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HSTAA 105 A: The Peoples Of The United States

Meeting Time: 
James Gregory
James Gregory

Syllabus Description:

 HSTAA 105


Professor James GregoryNationOfImmigrants1.jpg
118 Smith   543-7792; e-mail:
Office hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30 and by appointment

 Section Instructors:

  • Josue Estrada <>AB (11:30) and AD (12:30); Locations CMU 226 and SAV 138
  • Roneva Keel <>Sections AA (10:30) and AC (11:30); Location SAV 166 

See Pages at left for lecture slides, sample exams, and other materials 

This course explores the history of American diversity. Covering five centuries, it examines the sequences of immigration and conquest that eventually made the United States one of the most ethnically and racially complicated societies on earth. The consequences of diversity are another theme of the course. We will discuss both the contributions of various peoples and the conflicts between them, paying special attention to the historical construction of race and ethnicity and the changing understandings of American citizenship. "What is an American?" each generation has asked, usually answering in terms that are new to their era.

HSTAA 105 earns writing course w-credits and satisfies the I&S and Diversity (DIV) requirements. The course also fulfills requirements for the UW Diversity Minor. If you have questions about that program, please see the webpage or email


  • 105 Reader (available at Rams Copy: 4144 University Ave.)
  • Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family
  • Thomas Bell, Out of this Furnace      

ASSIGNMENTS: Grades will be based on four elements: a midterm, final, research paper, and participation in discussion section. All assignments are mandatory; failure to complete any assignment will make it impossible to pass the course. The research paper and final exam will each count for 30% of the grade; the midterm and discussion section will each contribute 20%.

 Due dates are subject to change:
Paper prospectus: Jan 19 (Tuesday)—a 1 page description of research project
Midterm exam: Jan 26 (Tuesday)
Paper draft: Feb 16 (Tuesday)
Paper final: Mar 4 (Friday)
Final exam: Mar 16 (Wed) 230-420 pm, PCAR 192

NOTE: Recording lectures or class discussions is allowed only under special circumstances and with the express permission of the instructor.



Week 1: Jan 4-Jan 8 reading assignment: 105Reader, section A

  •        Life and death in the first age of globalism
    · The British imprint on American demography and institutions

Week 2: Jan 11-Jan 15 reading assignment: 105Reader, section B

  •       Winners and losers among native peoples 1607-1775
    · Atlantic slave trade 1520s-1870s
    · Inventing Americans: the road to independence

Week 3: Jan 18-Jan 22 reading assignment: 105Reader, section C

  •       Building a new nation: the paradox of founding principles
    · The republic as empire: expansion 1800-1860

Week 4: Jan 25-Jan 29 reading assignment: 105Reader, section D

  •      Irish immigrants and the issue of Catholicism
    · The Kennedys and Irish ethnic enterprise
    · Foreigners in their native land: Mexicans in the Southwest

Week 5 : Feb 1-Feb 5 reading assignment: Murray, Proud Shoes, 1-136

  •       Germans and Scandinavians: cultural power in 19th century America
    · Civil War and the end of slavery
    · The 14th amendment and the buried promise of equal rights

Week 6: Feb 8-Feb 12 reading assignment: Murray, Proud Shoes, 137-end

  •       Race and changing schemes of whiteness
    · Chinese in America 1848-1940
    · Slaying the Dragon: Hollywood representations of Asian women

Week 7: Feb 15-Feb 19 reading assignment: Bell, Out of This Furnace, 1-178

  •       Third wave immigrants: Poles and Italians
    · Greeks and Jews: the rewards of small business enterprise
    · Immigration restriction, culture wars, cracking the culture of tribalism

Week 8: Feb 22- Feb 26 reading assignment: Bell, Out of This Furnace, 179-end

  • New Deals: reorganizing economy, reorganizing democracy
    ·Unburying the 14th “amendment: civil rights campaigns 1941-64

Week 9: Feb 29 -Mar 4 reading assignment: 105Reader, section E

  •       Fifth wave immigrants: the changing face of diversity 1965-2012
    · Asians: disaggregating the 'Model Minority"
    · Latinos: the search for cultural and political power

Week 10: Mar 7-Mar 11 reading assignment: 105Reader, section F

  •       Middle Easterners: a new indispensable enemy?
    · Indian Country in the age of pluralism
    · Race, class, justice, and opportunity in today’s America



Paper prospectus: Jan 19 (Tuesday)—a 1-page description of your project
Paper draft: Feb 16 (Tuesday)
Paper final: Mar 4 (Friday)

The research paper assignment accounts for 30% of the course grade. You may choose between two kinds of projects: a family history project or a civil rights movement project.


This involves research into your family's history. Pauli Murray’s book, Proud Shoes, is an example of what family research can yield. Family documents and interviews with relatives will be the major sources for this assignment, and they must be supplemented with library research. Collecting family stories is only part of this assignment. The idea is to use your family’s history to illustrate some of the concepts developed in this course. The family stories you tell must be used to discuss one or more of the following issues and concepts that will be explained in lectures over the coming weeks:

 Identity issues: "ethnic pride," "cultural retention/change," "varieties of Americanism," "passing," "evaporating ethnicity," "compiled ethnicity," "expanding whiteness"

Citizenship issues : "struggles for equality, " "xenophobia, " "exile politics," "14th Amendment, " "using politics," "expanding pluralism"

Economic issues : “job ghetto,” "ethnic enterprise, " "ethnic privilege, " "immigrant resources," "productive stereotypes, " "the educational divide"

Gendered ethnic issues : "gendered stereotypes," "gendered identity pathways," "gendered cultural guardians," "intermarriage"

Here are some ways to think about connecting a family story to the issues of this course: Does your family background lend itself to a discussion of immigration and Americanization? Think about the issues involved in coming to America and becoming American. Cultural conflicts and identity negotiations will probably be the focus of your analysis. Pay attention to national background, generations, gender, class, and other factors and conditions that might have affected your family's experience.

Some family backgrounds lend themselves to examinations of struggles for basic rights. Perhaps there are family experiences with prejudice and discrimination or perhaps there were ancestors who benefited from the oppression of others. In either case you will want to think about the historical context and try to understand how your family story fits into the changing patterns of pluralism and ethnocentrism that mark different eras. You may also have an opportunity to discuss the political forces that have changed the fabric of rights and opportunities.

Some of you will be intrigued by family stories about changing economic status, about struggles to attain wealth, position, or a better living. If so, you will want to pay attention to ethnic enterprises and perhaps ethnic privilege. Think beyond the purely personal aspects of these accounts. What events and conditions helped shape opportunities? How did ethnic connections and communities contribute to the family's experiences?

Some may choose to examine complicated genealogies that stretch back many generations. Here you may find opportunities to discuss issues of intermarriage, cultural retention or ethnic evaporation, and any number of other concepts.

 Library research is a required part of this assignment. You will need to set your family's stories in historical context, which means reading about the time periods and also ethnic groups you will be discussing. Here is a list of books that can serve as reference works. Your paper should include at least three book citations.

The final result should be 8-10 typed pages. It should be logically organized and well written. Good ideas do not count if they are not readily understood. All quotations and specific references require citations. Here is a brief guide to Chicago style footnotes and endnotes. Be sure to edit your work. There is no excuse for sloppy grammar, spelling, or typing. Warning: be very careful about plagiarism. I enforce a zero tolerance rule when it comes to any form of cheating.




This involves researching one of the civil rights movements listed below using online or microfilm newspapers. You will record events associated with the movement in a database and write a paper about the movement’s goals and activities that is based both on your primary source research and a few suggested secondary sources (books or historical articles). Choose one of the following civil rights movements:

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Founded in 1909, the NAACP was the premier civil rights organization for more than fifty years. You will read about the organization’s activities in the online newspapers located here.

  • Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL). Founded in 1928, the JACL sought to represent Japanese Americans the way the NAACP fought for African Americans. You will read about the organization’s activities in the Pacific Citizen (microfilm A7139). See instructions here.
  • National Women’s Party. Founded in 1913, the NWP was among the most militant and creative of the organizations fighting for votes for women. You will read about the organization’s activities in the Suffragist (microfilm A6853). See instructions here.
  • Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Founded in 1905, the IWW was committed to revolutionary unionism and was one of the first labor organizations to organize black and Asian workers as well as whites. You will read about the organization’s activities in the Industrial Worker (microfilm A5). See instructions here.
  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Founded in 1960 by black and white college students, SNCC organized some of the most effective civil rights actions in the South, including the 1964 voting rights campaign in Mississippi. You will read about the organization’s activities in the online newspapers located here.

  • Black Panther Party. Founded in 1966, the Panthers captured international attention with their revolutionary rhetoric and program of armed self defense. You will read about the organization’s activities in the online newspapers located here.


NOTE: Students choosing the civil rights movement projects will work directly with Prof. Gregory who will demonstrate research techniques, clarify sources, and tailor the scope of each project. Students completing successful projects may be invited to publish their work on the Mapping American Social Movements through the 20th Century, an online digital history project sponsored by the History Department.




Catalog Description: 
History of diverse peoples who have come together through conquest and immigration since 1500, including Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans. Explores contributions of may peoples with special attention to changing constructions of race and ethnicity and evolving understandings of what it means to be American.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:52pm