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Grant number: BH-50666-14

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BH-50666-14

University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)
Eric Rauchway (Project Director: 03/05/2014 to present)
Pamela Tindall (Co Project Director: 09/15/2014 to present)

The Transcontinental Railroad: Transforming California and the Nation

Two one-week workshops for seventy-two school teachers on the transcontinental railroad and its impact on nineteenth-century America.

This workshop explores the impact of the transcontinental railroad on the politics, society, economy, and environment of California and the nation. Daily topics include technology and labor, geography and the environment, the social and economic impact of the railroad, and the West in the American imagination. Based in Sacramento, the western terminus of the railroad, the project includes visits to the California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the Sacramento History Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, and the mansion of railroad baron Leland Stanford. Farther afield, participants take day trips to the Bay Area, where they learn from prominent scholars at Stanford University and tour San Francisco's Old Mint, and to Donner Pass, to see for themselves the difficult terrain faced by railroad workers. In addition to co-directors Ari Kelman and Eric Rauchway of University of California, Davis, the faculty includes historians Richard White and Gordon Chang (both of Stanford University), Richard J. Orsi (California State University, East Bay), and museum curators and staff. Chang discusses his current research on Chinese railroad workers and how they shaped the social as well as physical landscape of the West; White discusses selected chapters from his prize-winning book Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. Other readings are drawn from Amy Richter's Home on the Rails: Women, the Railroad, and the Rise of Public Domesticity; Alexander Saxton's The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California; Wolfgang Schivelbusch's The Railway Journey: The Industrialization and Perception of Time and Space in the 19th Century; Andrew C. Isenberg's The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920; and The West As America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, edited by William Truettner. During the workshop, participants develop a lesson or unit plan using materials from the workshop, which receive peer feedback and undergo revision prior to posting on the project's website.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Program:
Landmarks of American History

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$173,400 (approved)
$173,374 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2014 – 12/31/2015