History Journal Entries

Journal 1: What will you want future historians to know about today?

Everything that has happened up until this moment is part of history. Historians reconstruct the past based on documents and artifacts that are available to them, and what may be available to a given historian may differ depending on a variety of factors.

In this unit, we have been learning about the events and culture of the United States during the Reconstruction Era, roughly 150 years ago.

For this journal entry, imagine what an historian conducting research 150 years from now would want to know about what is happening in the United States today. Write for 15 minutes, or about 250 words, about what you think that historian would want and need to know. Think of your journal entry as a “primary source document” that will be uncovered in 150 years – your journal entry will help that historian understand the United States today.

Journal 2: Contesting the West

During the Gilded Age, Anglo settlers moved into the Great Plains and Mountain West regions in increasing numbers, setting up conflicts with Native American Indians who had lived on the land for many generations.

Imagine you are either a Plains Indian, or an Anglo farmer, in the West. Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, about your experiences. Be sure to write in complete sentences and in your own words.

Journal 3:  Reflecting on Immigration

As you have read in Chapter 17 and watched in the accompanying video lesson, immigration was a major feature and driver of change during the Gilded Age. Immigration is also a major issue today, with some calling for restrictions on immigration, and others calling for immigrants to be welcomed into the United States, even as Texas generally and Dallas specifically have among the highest concentrations of immigrants from around the world.

Reflect on the extent to which our local and national economy and society relies on immigration, and reflect on the extent to which immigrants play a role in your daily life. Write for approximately 15 minutes, or 250 words, about your thoughts on immigrants and immigration in the 21st century.

Journal 4: Module 4 Journal: Ideologies and Empire

You have learned about both domestic racial and gender relations, as well as the beginnings of the United States’ overseas empire at the turn of the 20th Century, from the chapters and video lessons.

In what ways do you think that attitudes about race and gender in the United States, intersect with ideas about the projection of U.S. economic and military power abroad, in the current era? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, on this subject. Please write in complete sentences and in your own words.

Journal 5: Progressive Reforms Today

As you have read in Chapter 19 and watched in the accompanying video lesson, the Progressive Era was characterized by a series of significant reforms that were advanced at both the state and federal level. Many of these reforms continue with us today.

Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, about a particular Progressive Era reform – of your choice – that continues to shape society today.

Journal 6: Wartime Propaganda

From the chapter and video lesson, you have learned how the Wilson administration used propaganda and censorship to “manufacture the consent” of voters to support the U.S. involvement and effort in World War I.

What examples can you find today, of the U.S. government using similar efforts to build support for its policies, actions, and leaders? Write for 15 minutes, or 250 words, on this topic. Be sure to use specific examples and write in your own words using complete sentences.

Journal 7: The Ku Klux Klan and Right Wing Terrorism

Having learned about the re-birth of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, what parallels can you find between the Klan, and right-wing terrorist groups in contemporary society? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, about what similarities and differences that you see between the 1920s KKK, and right-wing terrorist groups today. Be sure to write in complete sentences and in your own words.


Journal 8: The Great Depression and the New Deal

You have learned about the structural causes of the Great Depression, and about how the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations differently responded to the Depression, in chapter 22 and the accompanying video lessons.

Based on what you have learned, reflect on the different responses to the Depression. To what extent should the federal government play a role in providing relief, recovery, and reform, when the private sector fails to meet the needs of the citizens? Write for 15 minutes, or 250 words, on whether and how the federal government should or should not provide relief, recovery, and reform.

Journal 9: Why is it called “The Good War?”

Author Studs Terkel nicknamed World War II, “The Good War,” in his book by the same name. In your opinion, what is it about World War II that causes many Americans to consider it “The Good War?” Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, on why you think this is so. Please write in complete sentences and in your own words.

Journal 10: Are We in a New Cold War?

You have learned about the Cold War conflict between the United States and its liberal democratic allies on one hand, and the Soviet Union and its communist allies on the other hand, with a large part of the world caught in an ambivalent middle and often finding itself the location for numerous “hot” proxy wars and interventions.

Reflect on the current global political and economic situation. Is the United States in a new Cold War with Russia? Or with China? Or both? If so, why? If not, why not? What similarities and differences do you see between the Cold War and the current geopolitical situation? Write for 15 minutes, or 250 words, with your thoughts on these questions.

Journal 11:  The Consumer Society

Chapter 25 refers to the period of 1945 to 1961 as “The Consumer Society.” In what ways are we still a consumer society? In what ways might that be changing? Do we think the present changes might be permanent? Or are we still consumers, but just with different consumption patters? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, on these questions. Be sure to write in your own words and in complete sentences.


Journal 12: What Civil Rights Work Remains?

In Chapter 26 and the accompanying video lessons, we saw the successes of the Civil Rights Movement lead to the advancement of ongoing reform movements designed to improve the lives of youth, women, Latinx peoples, and American Indians.

Based on what you have learned, what unfinished work remains to secure the blessings of liberty for various groups who live in the United States? What further reforms are needed? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, to answer these questions.

Journal 13: Living with Less

The title of chapter 27 is “Living with Less.” The 1970s featured both economic problems and political scandals. What parallels do you see in the current era? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, on the similarities and differences between the 1970s and the current era. Be sure to use your own words and write in complete sentences.

Journal 14: Does Conservatism Remain Triumphant?

Based on your reading of previous chapters and watching previous lessons, one broad theme you should have seen is that, from 1877 to 1932, the Republican Party was the stronger of the two parties, and apart from the Progressive Era, American voters tended to favor a limited role for the federal government. Beginning in 1932, voters began voting for more Democratic candidates and supporting an larger role for the federal government, such as a permanent standing army and national security infrastructure, and economic security programs like those of the New Deal and Great Society. But starting in 1968, with the election of Richard Nixon, continuing with the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter as an outsider, and certainly culminating with the 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the United States entered an era in which the federal government was increasingly scrutinized and limited in certain areas, even as it expanded in other areas that aligned with conservative priorities.

Today, our politics seems hopelessly divided between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. Are we still in a conservative era? Or are Americans again becoming more liberal/progressive? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, to answer these questions to the best of your ability.

Journal 15: The Bill Clinton Presidency

As you have read in Chapter 29, Bill Clinton’s presidency stretched across much of the decade. Historians are now only beginning to have the perspective in which to evaluate his presidency within the broader historical context. What are your thoughts on Bill Clinton’s presidency? Write for 15 minutes, or approximately 250 words, on what your thoughts are regarding his presidency and legacy. Make sure to use your own words and write in complete sentences.


Journal 16: What will you want future historians to know about today?

The Module 1 Journal asked you to write about what you would want future historians to know about today. You wrote that journal entry on the basis of what you knew at the beginning of the course, having just completed the reading and video lesson for Module 1.

Having now read chapters 16-30 in the textbook, watched numerous video lessons, and completed other activities, how would you answer that question differently? Based on what you have learned in this course, and reflecting upon your learning, what would you want an historian 150 years from now, to know about life in the United States today?  Think of your journal entry as a “primary source document” that will be uncovered in 150 years.

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