Silicon Valley History Online  

Upton Sinclair-The Red Currency


Progressives in California
Upton Sinclair and worker’s rights
Students will demonstrate an understanding of how labor conditions in the early 20th system led to government reform.
– Know the effects of industrialization on living and working conditions, including the portrayal of working conditions,
food safety in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
Historical Interpretation (New History Education Skill)
1. Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events
and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
40 minutes
Review the document using 6C’s document analysis; summarize the content using postcards from the past
·      Computer lab or access to a computer and the internet.
·      The 6 Cs document analysis worksheet
·      Image from SVHO
·      Template for Postcards from the Past.
1.    This lesson is designed as a follow up to “How Progressive were the Progressives”
2.    Pass out a copy (or provide online access to) of the The Red Currency.
3.    Review the section in the textbook dealing with the passage of the 19th Amendment and growing activism from women in the late 19th century
4.    Distribute copies of the 6Cs-students will use this worksheet to help understand the document.
5.    Explain the directions for Postcards from the Past. (Separate document)
6.    Download the template for Postcards from the Past to every computer.  For this lesson, each student will use the The Red Currency.
7.    A completed Postcard is the student’s ticket out the door.
·      Image from SVHO: One Sincliar Dollar, The Red Currency, Endure Poverty in California, Easy Pickings in California, 1934
·      Directions for using the 6C’s:
The six C’s are a way of looking at historical resources.  The six Cs are: content, citation, context, connections, communication, and conclusions.  The six Cs are from the California History Social Science Project.
What is the main idea? Documents:  List important points, phrases, words, or sentences Images:  Describe what you see
Who created this?  When was it created?  What type of source is this?
What is going on in the world, country, region, or locality when this was created?
What other sources might help provide answers to this question?  What else do we need to know to better understand the evidence in this source?
How does this connect to what you already know?  Keep in mind: nothing happens out of its own time.
What is the author’s bias or point of view?  Who is the intended audience?  Why was the source created?  What is the tone of the document or image?
What contribution does this make to our understanding of history?  How did you come to these conclusions?  How does this document or image help answer our essential or research question?
Putting it all together
Remember most primary sources were never intended for our school audience.
This tool is designed to help students explicitly dissect a source.  The overall goal is to get the sense of its meaning.  Our purpose is to understand how a resource contributes to understanding an issue in its own time.