Print

An online exhibit of artifacts from the collections of the Vermont Historical Society for students, teachers, and the curious.

The Gilded Age, 1865-1910, began in the aftermath of the Civil War, a conflict which had challenged the American identity on many levels. The rise of industry, the lure of the West, the end of slavery, the influx of immigrants, and the growth of power and corruption in government all challenged prevailing attitudes toward the state and the nation. What were the core values of Vermont and America? What constituted progress? What characterized an American or a Vermonter? What was the responsibility of government to its citizens?

 America in the Gilded Age saw changes as dramatic as any in its history as the population shifted from rural to urban, and the economy from agricultural to industrial. As Americans struggled with the traumatic aftermath of the Civil War, they also faced an economic change as significant as any other. As the state with the highest rate of casualties in the Civil War, the trauma in Vermont was particularly poignant, as was the growth of industry in an area symbolic of farming. Historic artifacts from the Vermont Historical Society collection illustrate the conflicting forces that ultimately produced twentieth-century America.

 This online exhibit was created by a group of Vermont teachers primarily for other teachers. They hope that their study of the period will facilitate its teaching and help to bring the VHS collection to others. The exhibit features 18 VHS artifacts with accompanying descriptions and lesson plans.

For teachers

The Gilded Age exhibit features photographs of 18 artifacts, each with a lesson plan and commentary. The lesson plans begin with a series of questions for students asking them to speculate as to what the artifacts might have been used for. Teachers who wish to use the collection as a stand-alone lesson will not want to identify the artifacts to students at first.