The U.S. Since 1877

Required and Recommended Texts, Manuals, and Supplies:  The American Yawp: A Massively Collaborative Open U.S. History Textbook, Vol. 2: Since 1877, ed. Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright (Stanford University Press). Freely available here: Print copies are also available. [Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781503606715]

Grading Standards: 

  • Participation & Professionalism: 10% 
  • Weekly Online Journal Posts: 30%  
  • Primary Source Activities (x2): 20% (10% each) 
  • Film or Game Review: 15%
  • Final Project: 25%

Course Requirements:

Participation & Professionalism: Things that may reduce your Participation and Professionalism grade include—but are NOT limited to—being tardy to class, failure to actively participate during lecture and engage with colleagues during small group activities, working on assignments not related to the course, and misuse of electronic devices during class. Things that may improve your Participation and Professionalism grade include answering questions when asked, contributing to discussion and group assignments, taking notes, asking questions, completing in-class assignments, etc.

Online Journal Posts: You will be responsible for responding to questions/prompts designed to engage you with that required reading and help guide you in understanding the material. Each post should be approximately 250-350 words and submitted before the start of class at the beginning of each week. The questions/prompts will generally be open-ended to allow for questions/discussion about what material a student may have had trouble understanding. You will then have an opportunity at the end of each week to post a follow-up response to your original post (please do not edit original posts after the due date has passed) that may elaborate or expand on comprehension areas that were clarified for you during the weekly class activities. This will allow me to more accurately grade each weekly post based on effort, specific references to the reading, and comprehension.

Primary Source Activities: At two separate points in the term, you will engage with one of the critical activities of a historian: analysis of primary sources. A brief review of primary sources can be found under the “Primary v. Secondary Source” section of the syllabus. You will be given a set of primary sources to analyze using questions from the National Archives Primary Source Worksheets to help guide you. In the In-Class portion of the assignment, you will work with an assigned partner to complete the worksheet. Once the worksheet is completed, you will individually write up a written version of your own analysis in short essay form, conducting a sort of comparison/contrast between the two sources. You will submit both the worksheet and the write-up and will be assessed on both parts. These will serve as practice for the final project, which requires you to examine seven primary sources.

Film or Game Review: Over the course of the semester we will cover a variety of people, places, themes, and events related to American History. You will be responsible for either A. watching a film or B. playing a game based on one of those historical pieces. Your game should be long enough or have enough in-game options that you can play a minimum of two hours. A list of pre-approved films/games are available towards the end of the syllabus. Examples from the American Revolution might include Assassin’s Creed III or The Patriot. If you have an alternative option in mind, you must run it by me first. After watching your film or playing your game, you will then write a review regarding things like its entertainment value, production, historical accuracy, etc. Worksheets of questions will be provided to help guide you as you craft your film or game review. You will then give your game/film a rating (0 to 4 stars) with an explanation as to the pros/cons and whether you recommend the game/film.

For film reviews check out this website:
For game reviews this site might be helpful:

Final Project:

Option A (Popularly known as an Unessay): To get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources and introduce you to the field of public history, you will create a public history product on a topic of your choice related to the course themes. Options may vary widely, but suggestions include: creating a website, designing a museum exhibit, filming a video (think Drunk History or CrashCourse), making a physical artifact, writing a pamphlet (such as those used for historical tours), creating an interactive and explanatory historical timeline (such as Tiki-Toki,, designing a public history blog, or even creating a “live-tweet” series of an event on Twitter! I’ve had students perform magic tricks, design their own choreography, and give historical tours! The options are nearly endless! A short explanatory/analytical write-up will accompany your “visual” product. 

Option B: This option is also designed to get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources. Rather than crafting a public history project, you will write a traditional five to eight page academic paper on a topic of your choice related to the course themes.


A primary source is a document or artifact generated in the past that we use as evidence of how people thought and lived in the period you are studying. A newspaper article, a diary, a speech, a court transcript, a map, a photograph, a building, a will, a political cartoon, a census report created at the time of your topic–all of these different types of documents are primary sources. Primary sources need to be viewed critically; they can have intent (to persuade the reader of a certain point of view), or be factually wrong, or be from a limited, individual perspective–all of which you need to take into consideration when using primary source evidence. 

A secondary source is a work that discusses and interprets such documents and artifacts in order to reconstruct the past (your paper will be a secondary source!) Sometimes there is considerable debate about many issues in American history; historians are often at odds in their interpretations. If there are conflicts within the primary or secondary sources, it will be your job to evaluate the arguments, and decide which is most persuasive.

A tertiary source synthesizes information from primary and secondary sources to give a broad overview of a historic event, person, time period, etc. Examples include encyclopedias and textbooks.



  • Hidden Figures (2016)
  • Selma (2014)
  • The Butler (2013)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
  • Thirteen Days (2000)
  • Tangerine (2015)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • Goodnight and Good Luck (2005)
  • JFK (1991)
  • Jackie (2016)
  • A League of their Own (1992)
  • All the President’s Men (1976)
  • Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Out in the Night (2014)
  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
  • Pearl Harbor (2001)
  • Rosewood (1997)
  • American Sniper (2014)
  • Band of Brothers (2001)
  • 42 (2013)
  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • His Girl Friday (1940)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Carol (2015)
  • Inherit the Wind (1960)
  • Detroit (2017)
  • Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)


There is a mixture of console, computer/online, card, and board games to choose from.

  • Twilight Struggle
  • Steel Division: Normandy 44
  • Verdun
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • Deus X
  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War
  • Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
  • Mission US: City of Immigrants
  • Mission US: Up from the Dust
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Call of Duty: World War II
  • Stratego
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
  • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
  • Cuban Crisis
  • Arms Race: The Cold War Era
  • Tropico III or IV
  • Men of War: Vietnam
  • Fate of the World
  • The Contender
  • Memoir 44
  • Diplomacy
  • Axis and Allies
  • Hearts of Iron IV
  • Papers, Please
  • LA Noire
  • Precipice
  • Harlem Unbound
  • Compare/Contrast The Game of Life with Life: Quarterlife Crisis
  • Compare/Contrast Monopoly with Monopoly Cheaters Edition
  • Action News

See sites such as this one for assistance: