Political Reform in the Gilded Age
The Gilded Age of the late 1800s is not typically recalled as an age of reform, though the Pendleton Civil Service Act was signed into law in 1883. This action to stem patronage in federal jobs was a response to the dramatic expansion in the size and scope of government. Reformers hoped its passage would initiate an era of civil service reforms at the state and local levels too, but Pennsylvania did not pass a comprehensive civil service reform law until 1941.
This teacher workshop introduces a lesson on the reform efforts using the records of the Civil-Service Reform Association of Philadelphia housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Danson, a high school social studies teacher in the Rose Tree Media School District of Pennsylvania who created the lesson for the Fall 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Legacies, will showcase these documents and suggest how teachers can use them in the classroom to explore essential questions about the multiple causations of a historical event, the role of analysis in historical construction, and how individuals and interest groups help government shape policy. Attendees will receive a copy of the Fall 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Legacies.