Fall 2022: U.S. History since 1877

A writing-Intensive course at Minnesota State University, Mankato

Marines hoisting the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 1945

Photo by Joe Rosenthal

This course will examine the history of the United States from after the period of Reconstruction through the present day. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a slew of sweeping transformations in American society. With social, cultural, and political changes came new perspectives on race, class, gender, and sexuality that helped define much of our lives today. In this course, we will examine this history in two ways: from the top-down level, looking at how things affected American society broadly, and from the individual level, looking at how average Americans experienced their lives throughout significant moments between 1877 and the present day.

This class is completely online and in asynchronous format, meaning we will not regularly meet for lectures. As a “writing intensive” course at Minnesota State University, Mankato students will explore the history of the United States through various writing models: blog posts, analysis papers, and film reviews. By the end of the semester, students will have written 20 pages of work and received feedback on writing from myself within 10 days of the assignment submission date.


This course will develop a class blog on WordPress. Viewers can visit this website to see our work: https://ushistsince1877.wordpress.com.


Course Goals:

  • Provide students a basic survey knowledge of U.S. History from 1877 until the present day.

  • To have students understand how connected the past is with the present day.

  • Offer students an opportunity to gain critical thinking and writing skills which will translate to other college courses and in their post-college careers.

  • Help students understand how to do historical research, interpret and analyze historical primary sources.

  • Offer students a chance to engage with history in new ways. In particular, this class will provide students a chance to learn how to write accessible writing for public audiences. Also, this class will offer digital proficiency in programs used to visualize and display history to wide audiences.


Photograph of Works Progress Administration Worker Receiving Paycheck
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.

Required Reading: We will be using the open-access U.S. History textbook, The American Yawp, which is free and available on this website: https://www.americanyawp.com/. If you’d like to purchase a print version of the textbook, you can do so but know there’s no requirement. All other reading materials will be provided on D2L. We will read primary sources, documents produced in the past, to help contextualize our readings (all found on the American Yawp website unless provided to you on D2L). These documents could be in the form of artwork, newspapers, letters, reports, poems, material culture.

Contact Information:

John R. Legg

Email: john.legg@mnsu.edu

Twitter: @thejohnlegg