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This theme essay is from the book Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Extending from the 1870s to World War I, the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era mark a a major turning point in American history. During this colorful period the country transformed itself from an isolated, rural, agricultural nation into an urban, industrial, multicultural world power. It was an era marked by bigness: Big Business, Big Labor, and big ideas. These forces changed people's everyday lives as a technical revolution swept the country, giving birth to such inventions as the telephone, light bulb, automobile, airplane, radio, and motion pictures. It was an era punctuated by disasters such as the Chicago Fire, the Johnstown Flood, and the San Francisco Earthquake, as well as two presidential assassinations. The same era also brought us ragtime, vaudeville, Coney Island, and Major League Baseball. Symbolized by larger-than-life figures--Teddy Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Mark Twain, Emma Goldman, and W.E.B. Du Bois to name just a few--the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era set the stage for the United States to become the world's industrial powerhouse and gave birth to the modern world. This illustrated encyclopedia provides definitive coverage of all the social and cultural developments of the period as well as its political and economic history. Edited by distinguished historian John Buenker and librarian Joseph Buenker, the set features original documents, sidebars, and in-depth essays on major themes and developments, as well as hundreds of detailed entries on issues, events, people, and ideas.

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