Gilded Age Documentary Project Mr. Kevin W. Walsh

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Gilded Age Documentary Project

Mr. Kevin W. Walsh
You are a member of a film production studio that has recently been hired to produce a documentary about the Gilded Age of American history.
American novelist Mark Twain coined the term"Gilded Age" in an effort to illustrate the outwardly showy, but inwardly corrupt nature of American society during the industrialization of the late 1800's.
The documentary will need to highlight the many aspects of society that made up the Gilded Age,

including: technological innovation, big business, urbanization, immigration, and reaction to the period.


Your team will be responsible for producing one specific segment of the documentary. Each segment production team will be responsible to:

--Research the theme for the group's segment

--Collaboratively create a 3-5 minute documentary using Presentation on Google Docs and voice over (including appropriate images, text, and voice-over narration, etc.) using You must then upload the video to and send me a link.

--Create a segment study guide for the class to use.

--Be creative, be fun, be outstanding…..DO NOT BE BORING!! BE A PINK FLAMINGO!!


• Divide up the roles among your group members.

• Organize the group's research and prepare it for the presentation.

• Write a script to use for the narration in your documentary.

• Edit and fine tune your segment before submitting it to the teacher.

• Write a review sheet/note taking sheet for documentary


  1. TECHNOLOGY DOCUMENTARY--Technology, along with an abundance of natural resources, was the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution in the United States . The telegraph, railroads, the telephone, and ultimately the use of electricity led to the shift from an agrarian to an industrial America.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

The Industrial Revolutio; Use of Natural Resources (Iron, Coal, Oil), Transcontinental Railroad, Inventors and Inventions (Morse, Bessemer, Bell, Edison)

  1. BIG BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY--Laissez-faire capitalism ruled the day during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the United States . In this atmosphere of unbridled money-making, numerous types of business organizations gave rise to Big Business. A question to answer is: Were the leaders of these companies Captains of Industry or Robber Barons? While some used ruthless business practices to wipe out their competition and earn large profits, others gave enormous sums of money to charities and their communities.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

Explain Laissez-Faire Capitalism (Adam Smith and Wealth of Nations), Business Organizations (Monopoly, Pool, Trust, Holding Companies), Entrepreneurs (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, Gould, and Ford); Were the entrepreneurs robber barons or philanthropers?

  1. URBANIZATION DOCUMENTARY--Urbanization was a direct result of the Industrial Revolution in the United States . Factories were centralized in cities which offered a central location for resources and workers to fuel their production. Immigrants and displaced rural workers flooded cities in the hopes of finding employment. Throughout the Gilded Age there were several positive, as well as negative, effects that can be attributed to urbanization.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

Negatives of Urbanization (tenements, slums, health issues--disease, poor sanitiation; Working Condititons--hours, dangers, child labor); Political Machines--Tamany Hall and graft; Postives of Urbanization--new technologies--elevators, skyscrapers, water and sewage systems; Philosophy of Social Darwinism.

  1. IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTARY--The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. During the Gilded Age, immigration to America increased tremendously. More people came to the United States than ever before, but immigrants were also coming from different places, and in doing so they added to the culture of America.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

History of Immigration (Colonial-timeframe and where they came from; Old Immigration; Early 1800s and where they came from; Late 1800s and where they came from); Reaction Against Immigration (Nativism, Know Nothing Party, Chinese Exclusion Act, National Origins Act); Theories of Immigration (Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl Theory)

  1. REACTIONS DOCUMENTARY--The Gilded Age was a period of immense change in the United States . All of the abuses and problems of the time generated many different reactions- most directed at reform. Slowly, government regulations began to reign in the abuses of big business. At the same time, social reformers actively sought to correct the problems evident in American cities.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

Railroad Rates and Practices; Granger Movement (Response to Railroad Rates); Interstate Commerce Act (1887); Sherman Anti Trust Act (1890); Union Movement--Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor, International Ladies Garment Workers Union; Early Reformers--Thomas Nast, Jane Addams (Hull House)

  1. SPORTS AND LEISURE DOCUMENTARY--In the late nineteenth century a new middle class emerged that had more leisure time and more disposable income than common people had ever enjoyed before in America. Eager to spend their newfound time and money outside the workplace, the middle class turned to sports, either as spectators or participants. Now, however, the elite had to compete with commoners on the playing field and for a seat in the audience.

Your documentary should include images, explanations, and ideas about:

Boxing--Queensbury Rules, John L Sullivan; “Gentleman” Jim Corbett; Football--College Football, Walter Camp and Yale University, Development of Professional Football; Baseball--Development of Professional Leagues, National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, First World Series; Basketball--James Naismith (Springfield Massachusetts), Creation of Basketball (Rules of the Game, Early Collegiate Basketball; Amusement Parks and Games
Roles for the Documentary

  • Researcher(s)--a student or multiple students should work on finding information and writing the script

  • Powerpoint Engineer(s)--a student or multiple students should work on creating powerpoint and finding appropriate images based upon the information

  • Screenwriter(s)--a student or group of students should write the script that will be read as the voiceover for the documentary

  • Narrator(s)--these students will read the voiceover in a variety of voices and tones to make the documentary more exciting

  • Study Guide Creator(s)--a student or multiple students will create a Note Taking Guide for the other students in class to take notes on and gain an understanding of the content.


While cooperation and team work are key to this project, it is not uncommon for some group members to work to a lesser or to a greater degree than others. To address this concern, individual grades will be determined based on the points earned by the documentary and based on the group's evaluation of each of its members. For example, if the group segment earns a total of 20/24 possible total points, or 83%, the group will need to decide how to fairly distribute 332 percentage points (83 project grade X 4 members) among the members of the group. Attendance, work ethic, and cooperation are some of the factors that a group should use in order to determine how many points to award to each member. If problems arise during this process that cannot be peaceably worked out by the members of the group, they should consult the teacher for assistance.

This project will be graded out of 25 points (there are 5 areas to be graded on a 5-4-3-2-1-0 scale. If your group scores 20/25 (that is an 80%). With 3 group members (not counting yourself) there are 240 points to distribute among your group (3 x 80=240). It is up to you to decide

For example:
















Factual Content- The information included in the documentary is accurate and relevant to the topic, and includes all of the required items listed on the Documentary Segments page.

Media Use -The sounds, images, animations, and slide transitions that are used are both relevant and purposeful.

Organization -The documentary segment is organized in a logical manner, making it easy to understand the information that is being presented.

Narration-Narration is used as the primary means of transmitting information for the documentary. The narration is relevant and compliments the media selected for the documentary segment. The narration is creative, entertaining and fun

Study Guide -The study guide acts as an outline of the documentary, providing students with a resource to review the material presented. The study guide should closely follow the presentation of the documentary.

Total Points


Be a PINK FLAMINGO--be entertaining, stand out, have fun!!!

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