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The Journal of American History


Teaching the JAH

Those of us who teach college-level history keep up on the scholarly literature in our own areas of specialization, but we rarely have the time to read widely across the entire sweep of U.S. history. Nonetheless, we attempt to cover it all (or at least a lot of it) in our undergraduate courses. How do we get from the monographic, specialized research to the undergraduate-level "big picture"?

The "Teaching the JAH" project attempts to bridge this gap between the latest scholarly research and classroom teaching by supplying online "teaching packages" for selected JAH articles. These "teaching packages" demonstrate how the featured article might be used in teaching the U.S. history course.

Each package includes a targeted article, brief comments from the article's author, and a set of annotated primary-source materials intended for classroom use. Depending on the targeted article, these source materials might include illustrations, photographs, video clips, audio clips, and excerpts from other primary historical texts. The packages also include links to other history-related Web sites that hold additional relevant materials.

The Indiana University Ameritech Fellowship Program provided the initial funding for the first four installments (March 2001–September 2002).

Current Installment

The Power of the Ecotone: Bison, Slavery, and the Rise and Fall of the Grand Village of the Kaskaskia

%u201CFranquelin Map of Louisiana, 1684, Detail of the Grand Village of Kaskaskia.%u201D Courtesy Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.  Many of the groups in this massive settlement at the top of the Illinois Valley were Illinois speakers who had moved from the West, making the Grand Village and surrounding settlements North America%u2019s largest population center in the 1680s.In the history of early America, native peoples too often get short shrift. We know how American history unfolded, to the devastation of many indigenous communities in the 1800s, but we sometimes misunderstand or misinterpret the power dynamics of colonial encounters.

The primary source for this Teaching the JAH installment uses the example of the Illinois to demonstrate that, rather than being weakened victims of colonization at the end of the seventeenth century, the native group took advantage of certain opportunities in their particular borderlands environment to build power. The massive Illinois settlement at the Grand Village of the Kaskaskia, on the tallgrass prairie of the Illinois Valley, was a center of exploitation, not a defensive measure or reaction against the forces of colonization.

The six segments in this installment are meant to introduce students to the complex story of the Illinois and their grand village, to reveal the topographical and environmental details of the place the Illinois inhabited, and to help students understand the group's relationship to the land and evaluate cultural encounters. The lessons can also be used to show upper-level students how historians use a variety of sources to reconstruct and interpret the Native American past.

Past Installments

Tippling Ladies and the Making of Consumer Culture: Gender and Public Space in Fin-de-Siècle Chicago

Tippling Ladies and the Making of Consumer Culture: Gender and Public Space in Fin-de-Siècle ChicagoIn American cities today, at practically any moment, one can easily find women enjoying alcohol in public. But in the nineteenth century, respectable women rarely dined, let alone imbibed spirits, outside of private homes and private clubs. Ladies were denied entry to most saloons and, unless accompanied by a man, refused service in most restaurants. Drinking in public was a male privilege, and women mainly confined their alcohol consumption to the private realm.

This gender divide in drinking began to erode in the late nineteenth century, as the expansion of the urban consumer economy drew more women into the city center to purchase pleasure. Capitalizing on this growing female market, retailers and entrepreneurs in cities such as Chicago established commercial dining spaces that catered to the monied ladies who flocked to downtown department stores, theaters, grand hotels, and other new consumer institutions. By century’s end, respectable women could be found satisfying their appetites for food and drink–even alcohol–in elegant new tearooms, ladies’ cafès, restaurants, and confectionaries.

 

 

Visit our archive of past installments.