Welcome to Becoming American: Trade, Culture, and Reform in Salem, Massachusetts, 1801-1861. The resources on this website are based on materials developed for the NEH Landmarks of American History workshops for schoolteachers held at Salem State College in summer 2004 and summer 2005. This website provides material for the Early Republic and Antebellum periods, organized around the National Standards for History: Era 4: Expansion and Reform 1801-1861. Themes include the rise of maritime history and international trade (Standard 1); the impact of immigration, industrialization and new types of labor (Standard 2); the reorganization of political democracy and reform movements dedicated to equalizing society (Standards 3 and 4); and the construction of a national identity in visual culture and literary texts (Standard 4B). Though Salem is best known for the 1692 Witch Trials, many historians believe that the city's most significant role in American history derives from its maritime trade with Asia and Africa during the Early Republic and the reform movements that developed in the city during the antebellum period. The city also is home to spectacular visual resources including the global collections of the Peabody Essex Museum, gracious Federal mansions, and the original wharf and Customs House in the Derby Street History District.
This website includes a timeline of Salem history, a walking tour of Salem's architecture, and a web bibliography of historic New England sites and resources. In addition, seven Document-Based Questions (DBQs) focus on culture and society in Salem and New England and cover the abolitionist movement, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, female antislavery societies, women and abolition, African Americans in the antebellum north, life at sea, and international horizons. Each DBQ offers an opportunity to examine letters, diaries, newspapers, paintings, photographs, and other material culture as well as providing links and resources for further investigation of the topic. In the Archives you will find information about past workshops. Our aim is to explore the accomplishments, changes, and growing pains experienced by the new nation between 1800 and 1861 and to encourage and strengthen teaching of issues in early 19th century American history using archival and other primary historical evidence.
Welcome to Salem!
Patricia Johnston, Professor of Art History
Brad Austin, Assistant Professor of History
Gayle V. Fischer, Associate Professor of History