American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Who Built America?

The Who Built America? multimedia materials are the foundation of ASHP/CML’s work. Intended for classroom use and general audiences, they are designed to reshape the way U.S. history is taught and learned. The award-winning materials include a two-volume college-level textbook; a series of ten half-hour video/DVD documentaries with accompanying viewer guides; and two CD-ROMs.

Who Built America? stands out from other textbooks in the clarity of its focus. The labor theme serves as an excellent framework, allowing the authors to synthesize most of the events in the standard chronology of history while still providing a distinctive perspective.”
– Lawrence A. Peskin, Morgan State University

The third edition of the two-volume Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s History was published in 2008 by Bedford/St. Martin’s. That edition is now out of print. However, we are now in the process of revising and updating an online digital version. Please check the News feature on this website for further developments of the eWBA? project.

Who Built America? offers a unique synthesis of U.S. history that draws upon the best scholarship on “ordinary” Americans – artisans, slaves, small proprietors, tenant farmers, women working in the home, and factory, white-collar, and service workers – and integrates their stories into a full picture of the nation’s historical development. Who Built America? represents the realization of one of ASHP/CML’s original and most important goals: the creation of an accessibly written and illustrated synthesis of U.S. history. The two volumes have been adopted over the past eighteen years in hundreds of college community college courses around the country. The third edition covers events through 2006 and features organizational changes intended to increase its accessibility and utility for teaching. This edition also contains more “Voices” in each chapter, excerpts from letters, diaries, autobiographies, poems, songs, journalism, fiction, official testimony, oral histories, and other historical documents.

Who Built America? on CD-ROM represents an astounding innovation for history textbooks. The interactive quizzes, graphics, sound (including original recordings of songs and speeches), and even early movies makes this already innovative book into an exciting new teaching tool.”
–Sara Evans, University of Minnesota

ASHP/CML’s first multimedia project extended Who Built America? into the then-emerging digital world with Who Built America? From the Centennial Celebration of 1876 to the Great War of 1914 (Voyager, 1993), a CD-ROM based on four chapters of the textbook. The disk received outstanding notices and reviews in computer magazines as well as mainstream newspapers; was the focus of computer, educational, and academic conferences; and became one of the first CD-ROMs to be widely used in high school and college classrooms (winning the 1994 American Historical Association James Harvey Robinson Prize for “outstanding contribution to teaching”).

Due to changing computer operating systems, this first CD-ROM is no longer available. But many of its resources have been incorporated into our History Matters website. Our second CD-ROM, Who Built America? From the Great War of 1914 to the Dawn of the Atomic Age in 1946 (Worth Publishers, 2001), a technically and aesthetically advanced sequel also based on chapters from the textbook, is still operable and in use.

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