U.S. Urban History

History 304/504


Dr. J. Mark Souther
Rhodes Tower 1904
Department of History
Cleveland State Univ.
Spring 2005






Euclid Corridor Project

Syllabus (PDF)




Souther Home





1. Euclid Corridor History Project. 65%
Landscape Essay 5%
Timeline Essay/Source Collection 10%
Two Oral Histories 10%
People Essay 10%
Interpretive Essay 25%
Project Binder 5%

The Euclid Corridor History Project is a collaboration of the CSU Department of History, Cleveland Public Art, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, and Ideastream (WVIZ and WCPN) as part of the public art component of the larger Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. Successive history classes are contributing historical documentation of the history of Euclid Avenue between Public Square and East Cleveland to support this important urban revitalization effort. Each of you in this course will research a neighborhood immediately surrounding one of the approximately thirty stations along RTA’s planned Silver Line (Euclid Avenue between Public Square and Windermere Station in East Cleveland), demonstrating how it reflects selected topics covered in the course. You will be building upon the foundation laid by last semester’s Introduction to Public History course, whose students prepared binders on each of the RTA’s seven designated segments along the Euclid Corridor. These binders will provide useful context for your narrower project topic.

Completing the project in this course is a very challenging task. It demands that you complete a variety of straightforward tasks and assignments in a timely and systematic fashion. In order to facilitate the development of the project—and introduce you to the research and critical-thinking process, the course is designed to lead students through those steps in a simple and methodical fashion. Also, your work is cumulative over the course of the semester, so that at the end of the semester. As a result, you will not only have compiled (and received instructor review of) a body of research and writing for your project that will become part of the final interpretive essay and research binder.

Given the nature of the project, it is critical that students complete each step/assignment along the way in a complete and timely fashion. The most significant barrier to successful completion of the course project (and student achievement in terms of grading) is procrastination and/or falling behind the course schedule.

The project will be divided into six phases, each with a corresponding due date. While this may seem overwhelming at first, bear in mind that many course projects simply ask for a lengthy research at the end of the semester, often leading students to procrastinate until it is too late. You will find that, if you give proper attention to your source collection and the approximately 11 pages of preliminary essays, your final paper will virtually “write itself.”

a.) Landscape Essay. After selecting your topic, which you must do by sending me an email message during the first week and receiving my confirmation, visit your sites. Note what you see. What is there? What isn’t? How do people use the site? What sorts of people use it? And, what intrigues you? Keep course readings in mind as you visit the site. Then prepare a 3-page descriptive essay in which you describe your sites and their surrounding urban landscapes. Be sure to include observations on the physical appearance of your sites and their surroundings as well as your thoughts on who frequents these areas and how these places might have evolved through time. Feel free to guess! This is a time for noting your observations—“reading” the urban landscape in the most basic way.

Sample Questions to Consider When Viewing Your Site

b.) Timeline Essay/Source Collection. Assemble images, maps, city directory pages, and any other relevant primary materials pertaining to your chosen sites and their surrounding vicinities. Also, locate scholarly books and articles that provide general or comparative context for one or more course topics that correspond to the changes observed at your sites. These topics would likely include but not be limited to industrialization, immigration, deindustrialization, population flight/suburbanization, and renewal/revitalization. Prepare an annotated bibliography on these sources. An annotated bibliography includes a brief description (one to several sentences) of how the source relates to your project. Finally, prepare a 4-page analytical essay in which you “narrate” a timeline of the changes in your sites and their surrounding urban landscapes, drawing upon all relevant primary sources (in other words, not including scholarly books and articles) in the source collection. In writing your essay, consider some of the following questions. Did your site change over time or not? How would you characterize change? Was it gradual or did it seem to happen suddenly? Do the changes within a time period seem related in any way? How about from one time to another? Can you see any patterns to the changes? Do you have any hunches about what caused specific changes? If there is great continuity, how would you explain that sameness over time? Are there differences between the physical site and its human construction?

Additional Instructions on Source Collection

c.) Two Oral Histories. Following our in-class oral history workshop, you will schedule and conduct two approximately 60-90 minute, tape-recorded interviews. On each of them you will work with another student in Professor Tebeau’s Local History Seminar. One interview will pertain directly to your project, during which the other student will assist, and the other will pertain directly to his/her project, during which you will assist. These oral histories should be conducted in March and April, respectively, but you are encouraged to get them both finished well before the due dates. On each due date, you will submit your completed release form, properly labeled cassette tape, interview transcript, and evaluative statement. Your interview must be competently conducted and fully documented according to the procedures outlined here and in the workshop in order to get credit. The Department of History will provide equipment and release forms for your interviews.

Euclid Corridor Oral History Project (incl. instructions and permission forms)

Oral History Teams

d.) People Essay. Prepare a 4-page analytical essay in which you draw upon your primary sources (including census data for the city and/or tract level) to “narrate” a timeline of the changing relationship of people to the sites you are studying. In other words, how have people used the sites over time? Who lives/lived or works/worked nearby? What roles do these places seem to play for people? NOTE NEW, LATER DUE DATE: MONDAY, APRIL 11, AND PENALTY FOR LATE SUBMISSION.

Additional Instructions on People Essay (to be added today)

e.) Interpretive Essay. Prepare a 10-12 page analytical essay that places their sites into the context of selected topics covered in the course, citing both primary and secondary sources (and including interviews as appropriate). The purpose of this essay is to give you an opportunity to combine all of the research and writing you will have done during the semester and relate just how it all fits together.

f.) Final Course Project. You should store your project materials in a 1 1/2- or 2-inch, three-ring binder (widely available at bookstores, pharmacies, office supply stores, and discount stores). The binder should include all materials for the project (organized with essays appearing first, followed by an appendix of supporting source materials) and should reflect revision based on comments provided at each stage of the project. The purpose of submitting a set of revised work is twofold: first, to develop a scholarly habit of responding to constructive criticism and, second, to present a refined product that will be used as a reference for urban planners, historians, and artists in a major urban revitalization initiative.


2. Reading Journal. 35%

For each reading assignment I will provide, in advance, on the course website a question or questions for your consideration as you read. You should keep a journal in which to record your responses to assigned questions pertaining to course readings. You may type or neatly print your answers. I strongly encourage you to write down anything else that strikes you as important as you read. Writing as you read and after you read encourages good analytical skills and careful reading, as well as promotes a higher level of engagement in class. This assignment is in lieu of exams, and so you should take it very seriously as I will ask you to submit it at midterm (for 15% of your final grade) and on the final day of class (for the remaining 20%). The Euclid Corridor project relates to this portion of the course requirements in two ways. First, the project serves as a highly visible and immediately relevant case study for trends and developments that have occurred in many other American cities. Second, our study of national urban history through course readings and class meetings helps us bring a broader perspective to what might otherwise remain purely “local history.” In this manner we are emulating the way that professional historians approach their craft—either seeking specificity in our understanding of broad trends or broad trends emerging from our specific subjects of study.

Academic Integrity

Using someone else’s ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism. “Ideas or phrasing” includes written or spoken material ranging from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences and phrases. “Someone else” can mean a professional source, such as a published writer or critic in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school or anywhere else; and a paper-writing “service” (online or otherwise) which offers to sell written papers for a fee.

Source: Capitol Community College’s guide to plagiarism (based on the MLA style)