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HSTAA 105 A: The Peoples of the United States

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
* *
James Gregory
James Gregory

Syllabus Description:

Professor James Gregory
Office hours: Thursdays 12:30 and by appointmentNationOfImmigrants1.jpg


Section instructors:

Oya Aktas ( : AD 9:30, AE 10:30
Brendan McElmeel ( AA 9:30, AB 10:30
Xiaoshun Zeng ( AG 10:30, AH 11:30
Yichen Zhou ( AC 9:30, AF 11:30

This is a remote class. Lectures will be recorded and can be viewed when convenient. Friday discussion sections will meet at scheduled times and will not be recorded. Participation is mandatory. If you anticipate problems, it would be best to find an alternative course.

Weekly schedules:

  • Monday 12:30 class meeting to introduce the week’s lectures, readings, and assignment.  Attendance is optional. The meeting will be recorded.
  • By Tuesday night all lectures, videos and reading questions will be posted in the week's lesson plan. go to the the PAGES link .
  • Thursday midnight: reading response upload is due.
  • Friday: mandatory 50 minute section meetings.  Please inform TA if you cannot attend.

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.

The course earns writing course W-credits (all sections) You may also enroll in Eng 198 and receive additional W-credits.  HSTAA 105 satisfies the I&S and Diversity (DIV) requirements. It also counts as a foundations class for the Diversity Minor.  Students who pursue the Diversity Minor would have to earn only 20 more credits to satisfy its requirements.  For more information about this opportunity  please see the webpage (Links to an external site.) or email


  • 105 Reader (available at EZ Copy, 4336 University Way, next to University Bookstore, 206-632-2523)
  • Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family (Beacon Press)
  • Thomas Bell, Out of this Furnace  (University of Pittsburgh Press) 
The 105 Reader will cost $13.20 (tax included). It can be mailed to you for an additional $4.00. For mail orders, send an email to with "HSTAA 105 Gregory" in the subject line. Provide a phone number and address in the message. Someone will call back and take credit card payment over the phone. It should reach you within 5 days. The books can be picked up or mailed from University Bookstore.

ASSIGNMENTS: Grades will be based on five elements: a midterm, final, 8-10 page research paper, weekly reading responses, and participation in discussion section. All are mandatory; failure to complete either the midterm, the final, or the research paper will make it impossible to pass the course. The research paper and final exam will each count for 30% of the grade; the midterm 20%, reading responses 10%, discussion section 10%.

Due dates are subject to change:
Paper prospectus: January 20 (Wednesday)—a 1 page description of research project
Midterm exam: Jan 29 (Friday)
Paper due: Mar 1  (Monday)
Final exam due March 18 (Thursday) 9:15 a.m. The exam will follow the format of the midterm. Again you will see short answer questions about readings and lectures and have 45 minutes to upload answers. This will start at 8:30 and be due by 9:15 am. Again you will see two longer essay questions and have 24 hours to answer one. There is one change. We are reversing the order of the elements. You will receive the long essay questions Wednesday at 8:30 am, 24 hours before the short answer questions. Both elements will be due at the same time: Thursday, March 18, at 9:15 am.


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 Indigenous peoples 1607-1775
·       Atlantic slave industry 1520s-1870s

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

·       Inventing Americans: the road to independence
·       Building a new nation: the paradox of founding principles

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

·      Irish immigrants and the issue of Catholicism
·      Foreigners in their native land: Mexicans in the Southwest
·      MIDTERM

Week 5: Feb 1-Feb 5 reading assignment: Murray, Proud Shoes, 1-136
·       Civil War and the the violent end of slavery
·       The 14th amendment and the buried promise of equal rights
·      German immigrants and cultural challenges

Week 6: Feb 8-Feb 12 reading assignment: Murray, Proud Shoes, 137-end
·       Race and changing schemes of whiteness
·       Chinese in America 1848-1940

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, xenophobia in the 1920s

Week 8: Feb 22- Feb 26 reading assignment: Bell, Out of This Furnace, 179-end
·      New Deals: reorganizing economy, reorganizing democracy 1933-1948
·      Unburying the 14th amendment: civil rights campaigns 1941-1965

Week 9: Mar 1 -Mar 5 reading assignment: 105Reader, section E
·       Fifth wave immigrants: the changing face of diversity 1965-2020
·       Asians: disaggregating the "Model Minority"
·       Latinos: the search for cultural and political power

Week 10: Mar 8-Mar 12 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



Prospectus: Jan 20 (Wednesday)—a 1-page description of your project
Paper due: Mar 1 (Monday)

The 8-10 page research paper accounts for 30% of the course grade. You may choose between two kinds of projects: a family history project or a research paper about either a nativist movement or a civil rights movement. Papers will be submitted through VeriCite plagiarism checker. If you would like feed back on a rough draft it must be submitted by Feb 17 (Wednesday).


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. You must incorporate  one or more 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," “changing dimensions of whiteness,” “changing race formations,” “dangerous religions”

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 ethno-racial hierarchy 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 family 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. How do family members today talk about and use stories about family ancestry and heritage?

Note: Family history projects must focus largely on experiences in the United States and may not be appropriate for international students unless they have family members who have been in the US for some years.

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 citations from at least one book.

The final result should be 8-10 typed pages. It should be logically organized and well written. All quotations and specific references require citations. Here is a brief guide to Chicago-style footnotes. 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. Papers will be submitted through VeriCite plagiarism checker.



  •  This involves researching a political movement that has fought either to restrict or expand civil rights. It involves research in primary sources (historic newspapers) as well as in reputable secondary sources (especially books). Choose one of the social movements listed below.  You will record events associated with that movement in a database and write a paper about the movement’s goals and activities. Click on Pages to find instructions for each topic.

Civil Rights and labor movements:

o   National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Founded in 1909, the NAACP has been a premier civil rights organization for more than a century. You will read about the organization’s activities in the 1920s in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

o   Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Founded in 1929, 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 (online newspaper) and in a book that has been placed on reserve.

o   The Suffragist/ National Woman's Party. Founded in 1913 and initially called the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, the National Woman's Party was the most militant and creative of the organizations fighting for votes for women. You will read issues of The Suffragist, the weekly newspaper published by CU/NWP to see how the newspaper articulate the goals and strategies of the organization in its early years. 

o   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 and about the campaign to suppress the IWW in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

o   Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. Marcus Garvey founded United Negro Improvement Association in 1916 to fight for Black pride and economic self-determination in America and create a new nation in Africa. You will read about activities and explore press coverage  several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve. 

 Nativist and white supremacist movements:

·        Anti-Catholic campaigns 1850s.  In the early 1850s, the American Party (the Know-Nothing Party) won federal and state elections advocating anti-Catholicism and immigration restriction. You will read about the Know-Nothing movement in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

·        Anti-Chinese movement 1880s. Along the West Coast hatred and violence directed at Chinese people peaked in the 1880s. You will read about the campaign in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

·        Immigration restriction campaigns 1920s. In 1920 and 1924, Congress passed laws severely restricting immigration. You will read about the campaigns and legislation in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

·        Henry Ford, the Dearborn Independent, and antisemitism. In 1920, Henry Ford published a stream of vicious attacks on Jews in his widely read newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. You will read about the campaign in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.

·        Ku Klux Klan 1920s. The Ku Klux Klan resurfaced in the 1910s and by the early 1920s claimed millions of members. You will read about the organization’s activities in several historic newspapers (online) and in a pair of books that have been placed on reserve.


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: 
October 28, 2020 - 4:50am