Progressive Era

What direction will your Progressive era research take? Are you interested in the settlement house movement? Do you want to focus on the drive to abolish child labor? If you a student of the "great man" approach, you might want to read up on Theodore Roosevelt or Walter Lippman. Try to narrow your research to a particular area. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book about the Progressive movement. This will give you an overview of the subject and help you to refine your search. Check out the starting your research project page before you begin! Some possible subject areas for the Progressive era include:

                                                Jacob Riis and the impact of his photography
                                                The Triangle Factory Fire
                                                The women's suffrage movement

We can't fit every resource about the Progressive era on to this list! A pathfinder is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Annals of American History Online Primary sources.
Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, court decisions, editorials and photos. Use the subject term: Progressive movement (United States history)
Gale Virtual Reference Library

General Reference Center Gold


Derks, Scott. (2002). Working Americans, 1880-2005.REF 305.5 D44 2002.

Tompkins, Vincent, ed. (1996). American decades: 1900-1909. and American decades: 1909-1919.REF 973.91 Am3a 1996


Books about the Progressive era will usually be found around 973.8 and 973.9 Books specific Progressive reforms can be found in the 300s; for example, 331.3 for child labor. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name (for example, a biography of Theodore Roosevelt would carry the call number: 921 Roosevelt).
Chace, James. (2004). 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs -- the election that changed the country. 324.973 C34 2004 323 pages.
Schlesinger, Arthur. (2003). The election of 1912 and the administration of Woodrow Wilson . 973.913 E12 2003 128 pages.
Smith, Karen M. (1994). New paths to power : American Women 1890-1920. 305.4 Smi4 1994 142 pages.
Stille, Darlene R. (2008). The emergence of modern America (1890-1930). 920 St5 2008 48 pages.

Other Resources


For these Gale Group Resources, use the subject term: Progressive Era, CA. 1890-1924. You could also try searching for particular topics related to the Progressive era: Women's Suffrage or child labor - history
Academic OneFile
Biography in Context For information on famous people associated with the Civil War or Reconstruction. Search by the person's last name.
General OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
Student Edition
US History in Context
History Study Center Contains primary and secondary sources.
Issues and Controversies in American History
The New York Times (1851-2005) Primary sources.
SIRS Copy this subject heading: U.S., History, Civil War (1861-1865) and paste it into the search field.

Internet sites

Library of Congress Progressive era to new era, 1900 to 1929
The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University
Public History Resource Center For many links to sites on specific Progressive era movements and causes.

BPL: Electronic Resources

History Study Center This resource was designed just for students! Start here to learn more about the Progressive era, see a timeline of important events, learn about key people and places. An excellent starting point for your research.
History Resource Center: U.S.. A good starting point for pre-search and fact-checking as well as more advanced searches. Use the subject search Progressive Era, CA. 1890-1924 or Progressive Movement. This site will also let you limit your searches to reference, biographies, periodicals, news, primary sources or maps and multi-media.
America: History and Life. This database indexes scholarly and popular articles on American History. You can limit your search to full text if you want articles instead of citations.
Archive of Americana. Search for primary sources: pamphlets, newspapers and government publications.


*Robert La Follette (June 14, 1855 - June 18, 1925), governor of Wisconsin, United States senator, and Progressive candidate for the presidency. A Republican, he championed good government and reform, favored business regulation, and opposed U.S. entrance into WWI.

Updated, 9-09