Social History of the United States

by Brian Greenberg, Gordon Reavley, Richard Greenwald, Linda S. Watts, Alice George, Scott Beekman, Cecelia Bucki, Mark Ciabattari, John Charles Stoner, Troy D. Paino, Laurie Mercier, Peter C. Holloran, Andrew Hunt, and Nancy Cohen


The history of the United States in the 20th century is not just the story of its famous leaders. It is the story of the laborers caught up in the progressive movement, the soldiers in the trenches, the marchers in the women's and civil rights movements, the minorities fighting for acceptance and legal inclusion, the citizens enduring the Cold War, and other ordinary people living in both ordinary and extraordinary times.

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Cover image for Social History of the United States

October 2008


Pages 3330
Volumes 10
Size 7x10
Topics American History/General
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This ten-volume encyclopedia explores the social history of 20th-century America in rich, authoritative detail, decade by decade, through the eyes of its everyday citizens.

Social History of the United States is a cornerstone reference that tells the story of 20th-century America, examining the interplay of policies, events, and everyday life in each decade of the 1900s with unmatched authority, clarity, and insight.

Spanning ten volumes and featuring the work of some of the foremost social historians working today, Social History of the United States bridges the gap between 20th-century history as it played out on the grand stage and history as it affected—and was affected by—citizens at the grassroots level. Covering each decade in a separate volume, this exhaustive work draws on the most compelling scholarship to identify important themes and institutions, explore daily life and working conditions across the economic spectrum, and examine all aspects of the American experience from a citizen's-eye view. Casting the spotlight on those whom history often leaves in the dark, Social History of the United States is an essential addition to any library collection.


  • Entries covering the lives and contributions of ordinary citizens, social movements, religion, culture, the arts, economic and labor issues, and other aspects of American life across the 20th century
  • Contributions by accomplished researchers in the field of American social history
  • Sidebars providing additional emphasis on important issues and less well-known personalities
  • Detailed timelines for every decade, incorporating famous events with pivotal moments that changed the lives of everyday citizens
  • A thematically organized index for each of the encyclopedia's ten volumes


  • Takes its place as the new essential comprehensive American history encyclopedia covering the 20th century from a social historian's perspective
  • Draws on the work of an unprecedented team of expert scholars
  • Incorporates a wealth of statistical data in tables and entries to provide quantitative support for historical discussions
  • Brings to light lesser-known events and individuals that changed the course of American history in the last century
Author Info

Series Editors
Daniel J. Walkowitz is director of college honors, professor of cultural and social analysis, and professor of history at New York University, New York, NY. In addition to numerous articles and four co-edited books, he is the author of Worker City, Company Town: Iron and Cotton Worker Protest in Troy and Cohoes, New York, 1855-1884, and Working with Class: Social Workers and the Politics of Middle-Class Identity in 20th-Century America.

Daniel E. Bender is assistant professor of humanities at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Urban History. His published works include Sweated Work, Weak Bodies: Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns and Languages of Labor and Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective.

Volume Editors
Brian Greenberg is the Jules Plangere, Jr. Chair in American Social History at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ. His published works include Worker and Community: Response to Industrialization in a Nineteenth-Century American City, Albany, New York, 1850-1884 and, with Leon Fink, Upheaval in the Quiet Zone: A History of Hospital Workers' Union, Local 1199.

Richard A. Greenwald is associate professor of history and director of the Business, Society, and Culture Program at Drew University, Madison, NJ. He is an associate editor at the journal Enterprise & Society and his published works include The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York.

Gordon Reavley is a tutor in art history and critical theory at the University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education, in Oxford, United Kingdom.

Linda S. Watts is professor of American studies at the University of Washington, Bothell, WA. Her published works include Rapture Untold: Gender, Mysticism, and the ‘Moment of Recognition' in Works by Gertrude Stein and Encyclopedia of American Folklore.

Alice George is an independent historian and writer for the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events. Her published works include Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Scott Beekman is assistant professor of history at the University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH.

Cecelia Bucki is associate professor of history at Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT. Her published works include Bridgeport's Socialist New Deal, 1915–36.

Mark Ciabattari is a social and cultural historian, essayist, lecturer, and novelist. His published works include The Literal Truth: Rizzoli Dreams of Eating the Apple of Earthly Delights.

John C. Stoner is assistant professor of history at Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY.

Troy D. Paino Troy D. Paino is the provost, vice president of academic affairs, and professor of history at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO.

Laurie Mercier is associate professor of history at Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, WA. Her published works include Mining Women: Gender in the Development of a Global Industry, 1670 to 2005 and Anaconda: Labor, Community, and Culture in Montana's Smelter City.

Peter C. Holloran is associate professor of history at Worcester State College, Worcester, MA, and an editor of the Journal of Popular Culture. His published works include Boston's Wayward Children: Social Service for Homeless Children, 1830-1930 and Historical Dictionary of New England.

Andrew Hunt is associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Nancy Cohen is a visiting scholar at the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Her published works include The Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865–1914.



"BOTTOM LINE: The editors and authors of the set attempted to create a narrative coherence throughout the ten volumes--a feature that separates it from traditional encyclopedia sets on the topic. Recommended for college and university libraries serving lower-division undergraduates."Library Journal

"The impressive 10-volume set Social History of the United States divides history into eras (the 1900s, the 1930s) for each volume, allowing for a narrowed, more detailed examination than most offer… The set is wide-ranging and makes for a top reference pick for both high school and college-level collections strong in sociology and American history. Very highly recommended, it promises to hold lasting research value and is a particularly strong starting point for papers and classroom discussions."Midwest Book Review

"The introduction asserts that '[O]rdinary people make history,' and the set does a fine job of explaining how their actions, labor, and beliefs collectively shaped the course of 20th-century American life. Each volume covers a single decade and is divided into topical chapters ('Industrialization and Labor Discontent' in 1910s, 'The New Gilded Age and the American Social Divide' in 1990s). While the work discusses major events such as wars and elections, its focus is on how segments of the population, including workers, farmers, women, ethnic groups, and immigrants, either influenced or were affected by those events. The authors also examine popular culture and the impact of print and electronic media on leisure pursuits and consumer behavior. ...This compendium provides a fascinating and informative perspective on topics often overlooked in traditional histories, making it an outstanding choice."School Library Journal

"This ten-volume set includes an excellent introduction to the topic for students, inviting them to appreciate the study of social history...Rich with images and data… Additionally, and of great value for high school students, each subject-focused chapter includes its own topical overview, timeline, description and analysis of important events..."Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

"This exceptional set discusses the social history of the United States from the 1900s to the 1990s through such themes as Work and the Workplace, Radicalism and Reform, Popular Culture, Sex and Gender, and Religion. . . . For any library, high school, public, or academic wanting to increase its holdings in the field of American History, this is a needed purchase. Highly Recommended."Library Media Connection, Starred Review

"This work readily accomplishes its primary goal—namely, to offer a readable and comprehensive social history of American life in the twentieth century for a general audience. For high school and college students researching topics in numerous disciplines this would be an excellent source."ARBA


Best Reference Title 2008 — Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

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