The Progressive Era

"I regard my people . . . I regard my machinery. So long as they do my work for what I choose to pay them, I keep them, getting out of them all I can. What they do or how they fare outside my walls I don’t know, nor do I consider it my business to know. They must look out for themselves as I do for myself."

— Massachusetts Business Owner

Viewing Options

Choose the experience that suits you best and dive into a world of award-winning video content.


Preview a short excerpt from each video chapter in The Progressive Era.


View The Progressive Era in our members-only Streaming Room™.


Explore subscription plans for our premium content portal, the Streaming Room™.

The Progressive Era

— from the series America in the 20th Century

The Progressive era stood as a beacon of hope, a time when passionate reformers grappled with the very essence of democracy. It reminds us that the pursuit of progress and the quest for a more perfect society are enduring American ideals.

The journey of modern America finds its origin in the Progressive era, a pivotal period deserving of profound examination. This era stands out for nurturing the nation's most dynamic array of reform movements since the 1830s-40s. Progressives, a diverse group with often competing agendas, rallied against the corrosive effects of rapid industrialization, urbanization, waves of immigration, and pervasive business and political corruption. Their unwavering commitment to revitalizing American democracy remains an inspiring testament to their era.

Two of the dilemmas confronted by Progressives remain as central today as they were then. Firstly, they grappled with the challenge of harnessing the benefits of the industrial revolution while subjecting the powerful forces behind it to democratic oversight and ensuring broader economic opportunities. Secondly, they navigated the complex terrain of preserving democracy and national identity amidst a burgeoning influx of immigrants, rampant political corruption, and the concentration of political power. Progressivism, true to its name, championed the pursuit of progress, aligning itself with the deeply rooted American belief in a society that continually strives for improvement.

However, it's essential to recognize the Progressive movement's limitations. It often clashed with radical labor movements and showed indifference towards the struggles faced by African Americans and other minorities. Just like the complexities of American history itself, students are encouraged to explore diverse perspectives. Progressivism, while uniting elements of reform, also sowed divisions. One such divide revolved around the contentious debate over female equality, especially concerning economic protectionism.

Robert LaFollette

Video Chapters

The Progressive Era is the second volume in the award-winning video series America in the 20th Century. This compelling narrative unearths the reform movements that emerged at the turn of the 19th century, responding to the profound economic and social challenges triggered by rapid industrialization in the United States.

Intriguing profiles of prominent reformers, including Jane Addams, Jacob Riis, Ida Tarbel, and Eugene Debs, intertwine with the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, showcasing their remarkable impact on this pivotal era.

The Progressive Era unfolds across four engaging video chapters, each offering a unique perspective on this transformative period in American history. Experience a sneak peek here or unlock the complete videos by accessing our exclusive members-only Streaming Room™. Not yet a member? Subscribing is quick and effortless, and provide access to a wealth of U.S. history and social studies content.

Get instant access to our entire collection of award-winning video programs—more than fifteen hours of standards-based content—plus creative sound galleries, interactive timelines, primary source media, comprehensive ancillaries, and more.

No bells. No whistles.

Just remarkable history and social studies content at the very best price.