The Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Student Activity Six: DBQ - The Effects of Labor Conflict on Everyday Life

Materials:

Classroom United States history text and notes
Transcriptions from The Albany Argus:

  • Document #2B - July 21, 1877, excerpts from Page One: THE FIREMEN'S STRIKES
  • Document #2C - July 21, 1877, excerpts from Page One: The Pennsylvania and Other Roads
  • Document #4B - July 23, 1877, Editorial Page:  Matters at Albany Quiet
  • Document #5A - July 24, 1877, A PROCLAMATION By the Governor (of New York State)
  • Document #5C - July 24, 1877, editorial: THE STRIKE OF THE TRAINMEN
  • Document #6C - July 25, 1877, editorial: THE DUTY OF CITIZENS
  • Document #7 - Excerpts from VICINITY AND STATE: July 27, 1877 and July 28, 1877

This assignment is based on the accompanying documents (listed above). Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this assignment. Read all directions before you begin.

Directions:
There are two parts to this assignment, Part A (Short Answer Questions) and part B (Essay).

Historical Context:
In the second half of the nineteenth century, industrialization changed the way in which Americans lived. People in different regions of the nation now had their lives connected economically, and no other business represented this connection better than the railroad industry. The Great Strike of 1877 began as a simple reaction of railroad workers in West Virginia to unfair practices by company owners. Within a short period of time, it became an emergency situation affecting many people's lives throughout the nation.

Task:
Using information form the documents and your knowledge of social studies, answer the questions that accompany each document in Part A - Short Answer Questions. The Short Answer Questions are designed to help you understand the documents and collect information to use in your essay. Write your answers on the worksheet.
Then, complete the Part B Essay based on the documents. The Essay is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. You are to use the documents and your knowledge of social studies in the Part B Essay to:

  • Describe why the Great Strike of 1877 was an emergency;
  • Identify three different groups of Americans experiencing changes in their lives as a result of the Great Strike; and
  • For each group, explain one way in which the people in that group had their lives changed by the strike.

Use other paper for your answer.


Student Name:

Document-Based Question: Part A - Short Answer Questions Worksheet

The questions in Part A are based on the following documents:

  • Document #2B - July 21, 1877, excerpts from Page One: THE FIREMEN'S STRIKES
  • Document #2C - July 21, 1877, excerpts from Page One: The Pennsylvania and Other Roads
  • Document #4B - July 23, 1877, Editorial Page: Matters at Albany Quiet
  • Document #5A - July 24, 1877, A PROCLAMATION By the Governor (of New York State)
  • Document #5C - July 24, 1877, editorial: THE STRIKE OF THE TRAINMEN
  • Document #6C - July 25, 1877, editorial: THE DUTY OF CITIZENS
  • Document #7 - Excerpts from VICINITY AND STATE: July 27, 1877 and July 28, 1877

Read each document; answer all parts of the questions for each document to receive full credit on this sheet.  Do not quote the document directly; put your responses in your own words. Then, use the answers on this worksheet (Part A) to help you develop your Part B Essay.


Document 2B: The Firemen's Strike
Group(s) affected:

  • What evidence from this document supports the subtitle, "They Are Spreading in All Directions"?
  • What business is beginning to feel the effects of the strike?
  • What actions are the strikers taking to achieve their goals?

Document #2C:  The Pennsylvania and Other Roads
Group affected:

  • What information from this document indicates the strike is becoming serious?
  • What actions did Pennsylvania Governor Hartcranft take to stop the strike?

Document #4B:  Matters at Albany Quiet
Group affected:

  • What rumor indicates the strike is affecting the meat packing industry?
  • Why might the workers in West Albany want to strike?
  • What would the owner of the New York Central RR do to prevent his workers from striking?

Document #5A:  A Proclamation By the Governor (of New York State)
Group affected:

  • What does Governor Robinson want local government leaders throughout New York State to do during the strike?
  • According to Governor Robinson, what are the most important things to protect during the strike?

Document #5C: The Strike of the Trainmen
Group affected:

  • Why did the government of West Virginia have difficulty stopping the strike?
  • Why did the workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, join the strike?

Document #6C:  The Duty of Citizens
Group affected:

  • What behavior should the citizens of Albany, New York, avoid during the railroad strike?

Document #7:  Vicinity and State
Group(s) affected:

  • In what ways have the residents of New York been affected by the strike?
  • When will the knit goods manufacturers of Cohoes expect to get paid for their products?

Part B: Essay

DBQ: The Effects of Labor Conflict on Everyday Life

Directions:

  • Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs containing supporting evidence, and a conclusion.
  • Use evidence from the documents to support your response.
  • Include specific related outside information.
  • Use black or dark ink to write your essay on other paper.

Historical Context:
In the second half of the nineteenth century, industrialization changed the way in which Americans lived. People in different regions of the nation now had their lives connected economically, and no other business represented this connection better than the railroad industry. The Great Strike of 1877 began as a simple reaction of railroad workers in West Virginia to unfair practices by company owners. Within a short period of time, it became an emergency situation affecting many people's lives throughout the nation.

Task:
Using information from the documents and your knowledge of social studies, answer the questions that accompany each document in Part A. Then, complete the Part B Essay based on the documents. The Essay is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. You are to use the documents and your knowledge of social studies in the Part B Essay to:

  • Describe why the Great Strike of 1877 was an emergency;
  • Identify three different groups of Americans experiencing changes in their lives as a result of the Great Strike; and
  • For each group, explain one way in which the people in that group had their lives changed by the strike.

Use other paper for your answer.

Remember, you must use information from one more than half the documents provided in your essay.

To receive full credit, your essay must include:

  • an introduction;
  • why the Great Strike of 1877 was an emergency;
  • three different groups of Americans whose lives were affected by the strike;
  • one specific example of how people's lives in each group were changed by the strike;
  • evidence from the documents provided;
  • related information from your knowledge of social studies (outside sources);
  • no repetition (direct quotes) of the contents of the documents;
  • relationship of the documents to the historical context;
  • conclusion paragraph;
  • appropriate use of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation.

(This list is also the scoring guide that will be used to evaluate your work.)

 

Last Updated: March 18, 2014