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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Touring Turn-of-the-Century America

[Detail] U.S.S. Alert. Photographer - W H Jackson, 1901 or 1902

Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company 1880-1920, provides numerous opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. The images in this collection can be used to create an illustrated timeline depicting monuments to historic events. Special "photochrom" plates provide an opportunity to discuss the merits of coloring black-and-white photographs as well as mass producing contemporary artwork. Other photographs in this collection provide an opportunity to assess race relations in the late-nineteenth century and to further investigate the role of the railroad system in the industrial development of the nation.

Chronological Thinking Skills

A search on the term, monument, produces hundreds of images of statues and memorials from across the United States. Some familiar structures such as the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. appear along with lesser-known works. The collection contains monuments commemorating events and individuals from the colonial period, such as New York's Henry Hudson Memorial and Virginia's Monument to Captain John Smith. Memorials reflecting a divided nation include Confederate monuments constructed in Kentucky and Maryland. These various images provide an opportunity to create illustrated timelines and maps that demonstrate how the nation remembers its history.

  • What historical events are represented in these monuments?
  • Considering that it often takes years to plan, fund, and construct a monument, why do you think that these events were chosen for memorials?
  • How does the scale of a monument and its design reflect the event or person that it commemorates?
  • How do the monuments represented in this collection compare to contemporary memorials such as Washington, D.C.'s Vietnam War Memorial in terms of design and meaning?
  • What might account for changes in the way memorials are designed?
  • How do you think that the construction of contemporary national monuments in Washington, D.C., has influenced the construction of monuments in cities throughout the United States?