Skip to Content
  • Language
  • End User
  • Educational Use
  • Time Required
(1)
(7)
(5)
(7)
(8)
(2)
(1)
(6)
(2)
(5)

Found 8 Collections

 

Breaking Barriers: Innovation and Industry

This collection brings together EDSITEment and Smithsonian resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day 2020, "Breaking Barriers in History."

These resources—including, objects, photographs, portraits, lesson plans, and articles—explore how technologies developed in the interest of advancing industrialization during the United States’ Second Industrial Revolution made it possible to overcome economic and social barriers, while, in some cases, unintentionally creating new ones. Innovators who developed technologies and tools to make every day living easier and more enjoyable, along with transportation technologies that broke barriers in terms of travel and movement, are also included in this collection. Users are also asked to consider the legacies of these inventions and their significance to innovation and industrialization through to today. The second resource of this collection contains questions to help with the analysis of a chosen topic alongside photograph, document, artwork, portrait, and object resources. 

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research.

This collection was created in collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Share your National History Day collections and let us know what you think! Write to us on Twitter: @EDSITEment and @SmithsonianLab, #NHD2020. If you publish a collection on your National History Day topic, be sure to enter #NHD2020 in the description!

Tags: factory, industry, invention, innovator, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel F. B. Morse, telegraph, Christopher Latham Sholes, typewriter, telephone, communication, technology, workers, labor, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, David Dubinsky, Asa Philip Randolph, John Llewellyn Lewis, Frances Perkins, Samuel Gompers, strike, boycott, union, Transcontinental, railroad, nineteenth century, 19th, twentieth, 20th, #NHD

EDSITEment
98
 

Traqueros, part 1: The Mexican American Railroad Workers

Traqueros ('track workers') were Mexican and Mexican American laborers who were instrumental in the building and expansion of the railroad throughout the U.S., from the mid- to late-19th century until the early- to mid-20th century. 

Following the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), Chinese immigrant labor - central to the construction of the transcontinental railroad (1869) - was extremely curtailed, and Mexican workers were relied upon to fill the labor void. By 1900, U.S. railroads employed over 1 million people, which increased to almost 1.8 million by 1925. According to the late historian Jeffrey Marcos Garcilazo, in his book Traqueros: Mexican Railroad Workers In The United States, 1870-1930 (2012): "Between 1880 and 1930, Mexican track workers constituted almost two-thirds of the track labor forces in the Southwest, Central Plains, and Midwest" (p.34). 

The U.S. federal government's Immigration Act (1917), while curtailing European immigration, exempted Mexican immigrants coming to work in the U.S. from its restrictions, largely because of the abundant reliance on Mexican labor in the railroad industry. By even the 1890s, the U.S. railroad labor force was so largely Mexican that the Southern Pacific Railroad adopted the practice of employing Mexican cooks in their workers' camps to satisfy the appetites of their immigrant laborers. 

The legacy of traqueros is largely forgotten in U.S. history books about labor and the building of our country, but recent and ongoing scholarship is revealing the vital role of traqueros in the strengthening of the U.S. economy, transportation system, and large-scale industry since the Civil War.

#EthnicStudies #MexicanAmericans #Traqueros #Railroads #Latinos #Chicanos


David Colon
3
 

Examining the Transcontinental Railroad - Nn

Railroads started well before 1869, but it was not until that year that the nation was bound together by a commitment to build the first transcontinental system. On May 10, 1869, the driving of a golden spike, signaled the ceremonial end to a process that had been going on for 6 years of construction, engineering, and human toil. Two companies, one starting in Omaha, Nebraska and the other in Sacramento, California competed to lay track towards each other to join the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. Their reward for each mile was government money and lots of it. By the time that they met at Promontory Summit, Utah, vast sums of money and untold human labor and sacrifice had been expended on this incredible technical endeavor. A single track united the continent's Wester and Eastern regions. Travel from East to West used to take months by wagon train, could now be measured in mere days. This collection utilizes Primary Source student review strategies from the Library of Congress' Primary Source Analysis Tools

Brian Ausland
14
 

Golden Spike Anniversary Topical Collection

This collection was created by Jared Tupuola, a Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center intern. Jared dove into the histories of Chinese laborers and the Golden Spike Anniversary, the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. 

"On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rail lines were connected in a highly publicized ceremony attended by railroad laborers, major financial supporters and the press. Led by industrial tycoon, Leland Stanford, the event commemorated the birth of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The completion of the railroad made national news and was lauded as a great economic and cultural success for the U.S. 

Despite the attention given to the event, there remained one group of contributors who were almost entirely left out of being recognized for their integral work to the project; Chinese railroad laborers. Although making up the vast majority of the physical work force behind the railroad, Chinese labor contributions were largely disregarded. This instance was not unique to many early Chinese Americans who faced discrimination, animosity, and degradation not only in rail work, but in almost every industry and facet of life. The hardships for early Chinese in America were exacerbated by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which not only prevented further immigration from China to the U.S., it also birthed an impetus to drive out Chinese communities already established.

Through this collection, the work, lives, and experiences of Chinese laborers and migrants are presented as an opportunity to learn more about how some of America's earliest Chinese residents navigated America in the late 19th Century. This collection provides art, ceramics and information that expounds upon the realities of Chinese American life and the First Transcontinental Railroad while ensuring that the Chinese contributions are not forgotten.  By no means an exhaustive resource, this collection allows for an introduction into Chinese contributions to the Transcontinental Railroad and encourages further exploration into the topic."

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
77
 

Golden Spike Anniversary

On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rail lines were connected in a highly publicized ceremony attended by railroad laborers, major financial supporters and the press. Led by industrial tycoon, Leland Stanford, the event commemorated the birth of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The completion of the railroad made national news and was lauded as a great economic and cultural success for the U.S. 

Despite the attention given to the event, there remained one group of contributors who were almost entirely left out of being recognized for their integral work to the project; Chinese railroad laborers. Although making up the vast majority of the physical work force behind the railroad, Chinese labor contributions were largely disregarded. This instance was not unique to many early Chinese Americans who faced discrimination, animosity, and degradation not only in rail work, but in almost every industry and facet of life. The hardships for early Chinese in America were exacerbated by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which not only prevented further immigration from China to the U.S., it also birthed an impetus to drive out Chinese communities already established.

Through this collection, the work, lives, and experiences of Chinese laborers and migrants are presented as an opportunity to learn more about how some of America's earliest Chinese residents navigated America in the late 19th Century. This collection provides art, ceramics and information that expounds upon the realities of Chinese American life and the First Transcontinental Railroad while ensuring that the Chinese contributions are not forgotten.  By no means an exhaustive resource, this collection allows for an introduction into Chinese contributions to the Transcontinental Railroad and encourages further exploration into the topic.

Jared Tupuola
78
 

Transcontinental Railroad: the 19th Century "Network" of the Future

In 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies, and tasked them with building a transcontinental railroad that would link the United States from East to West. Over the next seven years, the two companies would race toward each other starting from Sacramento, California in the West and Omaha, Nebraska to the East, both teams struggled to overcome  great engineering obstacles and physical risks to their workforce before the two lines were joined at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. This "network" connecting our nation and  continent, was a huge technological step forward for our country that incited many other technologies and industries.

Jodi Halligan M.Ed
13
 

Building the Transcontinental Railroad

At our core, we are railroad people. The railroads, for better or worse, shaped the cities in which we live and the spatial relationships between the rural and urban areas of the United States. Railroad language creeps into our vocabulary. We are always getting derailed, or off-track, or, if angry, we are steamed or getting ready to blow our stacks! Our understanding of time and of time zones and our ability to trace the minute shifts of seconds and minutes is a product of being a railroad nation. And, until recently, as one of the largest employers in the United States, many people have a personal family connection to working on the railroads. Railroads started well before 1869, but it was not until that year that the nation was bound together by a transcontinental system. On May 10, 1869, the driving of a golden spike, signaled the ceremonial end to a process that had been going on for years. Two companies, one starting in Omaha and the other in Sacramento competed to lay track. Their reward for each mile was government money and lots of it. By the time that they met at Promontory Point, Utah, vast sums of money and untold human labor and sacrifice had been expended on this incredible human endeavor. A single track united the continent. What used to take months by wagon train, could now be measured in mere days. It changed everything, forever. 

California State Railroad Museum
13
 

Road to the West: Railroads

This subject goes over the construction of the railroads in the United States in the 1860's and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad

Richard O'Brien
9