By Nichols, Christopher M.; Unger, Nancy C
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Additional resources for A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Subsequently, many of them took what they had learned in the universities and contributed to “the political and intellectual ferment of the Progressive Era” (Gordon 1990, 2–3). In Search of Progressivism: The Kaleidoscope of Reform Traditions By the 1980s, historians were exploring the many facets of progressivism, rather than simply treating it as a single entity. Indeed, it was during this decade that scholars started Precursors to Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reforms to argue that progressivism, rather than being a single movement, was actually a collection of movements.
Perhaps, some scholars note, these elements are not so contradictory after all but a sign of the general fluidity and vitality of the reform era. It is useful, therefore to understand how the historiographical debate over the precursors of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era has developed since the 1920s. Having said that, this chapter can only touch on some of the key text and debates in the field; it is not meant to be exhaustive. Although there is no clear consensus among historians regarding the precursors to the Progressive Era, since at least the 1960s scholars have tended to discuss several groups or movements as antecedents to the era’s reforms.
In 1998, Daniel Rodgers—the same historian who had stressed the multi‐faceted nature of progressivism in 1982— published his influential volume Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age. Rodgers began this massive tome with the premise that American history has long been tied to political, commercial, and intellectual networks that stretch well beyond the nation‐state. He echoed Goldman and Hofstadter by stressing the connections between the Progressive Era and New Deal, yet Rodgers deviated from those 1950s historians by situating the reforms of the 1890s to the 1930s in a distinctly transatlantic context.
A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era by Nichols, Christopher M.; Unger, Nancy C