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HSTAA 105 A: The Peoples of the United States

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
SMI 120
James Gregory
James Gregory

Syllabus Description:

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


Section instructors:


Lectures will be in person and I hope to be able to record them for later viewing. I can't guarantee that this is going to be possible. Friday discussion sections will meet in person with no recordings.

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 )
  • 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 

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 19 (Wednesday)—a 1 page description of research project
Midterm exam: Jan 28 (Friday)
Paper due: Feb 28  (Monday)
Final exam: TBA


Week 1: Jan 3-Jan 7 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 10-Jan 14 reading assignment: 105Reader, section B
Winners and losers among Indigenous peoples 1607-1775
·       Atlantic slave industry 1520s-1870s

Week 3: Jan 17-Jan 21 reading assignment: 105Reader, section C

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

Week 4: Jan 24-Jan 28 reading assignment: 105Reader, section D

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

Week 5: Jan 31-Feb 4 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 7-Feb 11 reading assignment: Murray, Proud Shoes, 137-end
·       Race and changing schemes of whiteness
·       Chinese in America 1848-1940

Week 7: Feb 14-Feb 18 reading assignment: Bell, Out of This Furnace, 1-118 plus Afterword 415-424
·       Third wave immigrants: Poles and Italians
·       Greeks and Jews: the rewards of small business enterprise
·       Immigration restriction, xenophobia in the 1920s

Week 8: Feb 21- Feb 25 reading assignment: Bell, Out of This Furnace, 119-258
·      New Deals: reorganizing economy, reorganizing democracy 1933-1948
·      Unburying the 14th amendment: civil rights campaigns 1941-1965

Week 9: Feb 28-Mar 4 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 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



Prospectus: Jan 19 (Wednesday)—a 1-page description of your project
Paper due: Feb 28 (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 16 (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 SimCheck 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 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 (online newspaper) and in a book that has been placed on reserve.

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 13, 2021 - 1:56am