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ERIC Number: ED524273
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 40
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks: How Labor's Story Is Distorted in High School History Textbooks
Cole, Paul F.; Megivern, Lori; Hilgert, Jeff
Albert Shanker Institute
Imagine opening a high school U.S. history textbook and finding no mention of--or at most a passing sentence about--Valley Forge, the Missouri Compromise, or the League of Nations. Imagine not finding a word about Benjamin Franklin, Lewis and Clark, Sitting Bull, Andrew Carnegie, or Rosa Parks. Imagine if these key events and people just disappeared as if they'd never existed, or rated no more than a glancing phrase. That is what has happened in history textbooks when it comes to labor's part in the American story, and to the men and women who led the labor movement. In the high school history textbooks the children read, too often everyone finds that labor's role in American history--and labor's important accomplishments, which changed American life forever--are misrepresented, downplayed or ignored. That is a tragedy, because labor played (and continues to play) a key role in the development of American democracy and the American way of life. This report examines four high school textbooks published by some of the leading publishers in the country. Together, the books in this study represent a significant percentage of the purchasing market for high school history textbooks. Thus, their influence is enormous. The authors summarize their general observations, and are not a detailed point-by-point analysis of each textbook's presentation of workers' rights and organized labor issues throughout history. In each section, however, the authors highlight at least one key problem area. (Contains 1 figure and 154 footnotes.)
Albert Shanker Institute. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4401; Fax: 202-879-4403; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Albert Shanker Institute