Progressivism in the United States
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Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large corporations and railroads, and fears of corruption in American politics. In the 21st century, progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, the view that governmental practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, forms the ideological basis for many American progressives.
Historian Alonzo Hamby defined progressivism as the "political movement that addresses ideas, impulses, and issues stemming from modernization of American society. Emerging at the end of the nineteenth century, it established much of the tone of American politics throughout the first half of the century."
- 1 Progressive Era
- 2 Democracy
- 3 Municipal administration
- 4 Efficiency
- 5 Regulation of large corporations and monopolies
- 6 Social work
- 7 Conservationism
- 8 National politics
- 9 Culture
- 10 Other progressive parties
- 11 See also
- 12 Footnotes
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Historians debate the exact contours, but generally date the "Progressive Era" from the 1890s to either World War I or the onset of the Great Depression, in response to the perceived excesses of the Gilded Age.
Many of the core principles of the Progressive Movement focused on the need for efficiency in all areas of society. Purification to eliminate waste and corruption was a powerful element, as well as the Progressives' support of worker compensation, improved child labor laws, minimum wage legislation, a support for a maximum hours that workers could work for, graduated income tax and allowed women the right to vote.
According to historian William Leuchtenburg:
The Progressives believed in the Hamiltonian concept of positive government, of a national government directing the destinies of the nation at home and abroad. They had little but contempt for the strict construction of the Constitution by conservative judges, who would restrict the power of the national government to act against social evils and to extend the blessings of democracy to less favored lands. The real enemy was particularism, state rights, limited government.
All the Southern states (and Oklahoma) used devices to disfranchise black voters during the Progressive Era. Typically the progressive elements in the states pushed for disfranchisement, often fighting against the conservatism of the Black Belt whites. A major reason given was that whites routinely purchased black votes to control elections, and it was easier to disfranchise blacks than to go after powerful white men.
In the North Progressives such as William U'Ren and Robert La Follette argued that the average citizen should have more control over his government. The Oregon System of "Initiative, Referendum, and Recall" was exported to many states, including Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin. Many progressives, such as George M. Forbes —president of Rochester's Board of Education—hoped to make government in the U.S. more responsive to the direct voice of the American people when he said:
[W]e are now intensely occupied in forging the tools of democracy, the direct primary, the initiative, the referendum, the recall, the short ballot, commission government. But in our enthusiasm we do not seem to be aware that these tools will be worthless unless they are used by those who are aflame with the sense of brotherhood...The idea [of the social centers movement is] to establish in each community an institution having a direct and vital relation to the welfare of the neighborhood, ward, or district, and also to the city as a whole
Philip J. Ethington seconds this high view of direct democracy saying:
initiatives, referendums, and recalls, along with direct primaries and the direct election of US Senators, were the core achievements of 'direct democracy' by the Progressive generation during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Progressives fought for women's suffrage to purify the elections using supposedly purer female voters. Progressives in the South supported the elimination of supposedly corrupt black voters from the election booth. Historian Michael Perman says that in both Texas and Georgia, "disfranchisement was the weapon as well as the rallying cry in the fight for reform"; and in Virginia, "the drive for disfranchisement had been initiated by men who saw themselves as reformers, even progressives."
While the ultimate significance of the progressive movement on today's politics is still up for debate, Alonzo L. Hamby asks:
What were the central themes that emerged from the cacophony [of progressivism]? Democracy or elitism? Social justice or social control? Small entrepreneurship or concentrated capitalism? And what was the impact of American foreign policy? Were the progressives isolationists or interventionists? Imperialists or advocates of national self-determination? And whatever they were, what was their motivation? Moralistic utopianism? Muddled relativistic pragmatism? Hegemonic capitalism? Not surprisingly many battered scholars began to shout 'no mas!' In 1970, Peter Filene declared that the term 'progressivism' had become meaningless.
The Progressives typically concentrated on city and state government, looking for waste and better ways to provide services as the cities grew rapidly. These changes led to a more structured system, power that had been centralized within the legislature would now be more locally focused. The changes were made to the system to effectively make legal processes, market transactions, bureaucratic administration, and democracy easier to manage, thus putting them under the classification of "Municipal Administration". There was also a change in authority for this system; it was believed that the authority that was not properly organized had now given authority to professionals, experts, and bureaucrats for these services. These changes led to a more solid type of municipal administration compared to the old system that was underdeveloped and poorly constructed.
The Progressives mobilized concerned middle class voters, as well as newspapers and magazines, to identify problems and concentrate reform sentiment on specific problems. Many Protestants focused on the saloon was the power base for corruption, as well as violence and family disruption, so they tried to get rid of the entire saloon system through prohibition. Others (like Jane Addams in Chicago) promoted Settlement Houses. Early municipal reformers included Hazen S. Pingree (mayor of Detroit in the 1890s) and Tom L. Johnson in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1901, Johnson won election as mayor of Cleveland on a platform of just taxation, home rule for Ohio cities, and a 3-cent streetcar fare. Columbia University President Seth Low was elected mayor of New York City in 1901 on a reform ticket.
Many progressives such as Louis Brandeis hoped to make American governments better able to serve the people's needs by making governmental operations and services more efficient and rational. Rather than making legal arguments against ten hour workdays for women, he used "scientific principles" and data produced by social scientists documenting the high costs of long working hours for both individuals and society. The progressives' quest for efficiency was sometimes at odds with the progressives' quest for democracy. Taking power out of the hands of elected officials and placing that power in the hands of professional administrators reduced the voice of the politicians and in turn reduced the voice of the people. Centralized decision-making by trained experts and reduced power for local wards made government less corrupt but more distant and isolated from the people it served. Progressives who emphasized the need for efficiency typically argued that trained independent experts could make better decisions than the local politicians. Thus Walter Lippmann in his influential Drift and Mastery (1914), stressing the "scientific spirit" the "discipline of democracy," called for a strong central government guided by experts rather than public opinion.
One example of progressive reform was the rise of the city manager system, in which paid, professional engineers ran the day-to-day affairs of city governments under guidelines established by elected city councils. Many cities created municipal "reference bureaus" which did expert surveys of government departments looking for waste and inefficiency. After in-depth surveys, local and even state governments were reorganized to reduce the number of officials and to eliminate overlapping areas of authority between departments. City governments were reorganized to reduce the power of local ward bosses and to increase the powers of the city council. Governments at every level began developing budgets to help them plan their expenditures (rather than spending money haphazardly as needs arose and revenue became available). Governor Frank Lowden of Illinois showed a "passion for efficiency" as he streamlined state government.
Movements to eliminate governmental corruption
Corruption represented a source of waste and inefficiency in the government. William U'Ren in Oregon, and LaFolette in Wisconsin, and others worked to clean up state and local governments by passing laws to weaken the power of machine politicians and political bosses. In Wisconsin, LaFolette pushed through an open primary system that stripped party bosses of the power to pick party candidates. The Oregon System, which included a "Corrupt Practices Act", a public referendum, and a state-funded voter's pamphlet among other reforms was exported to other states in the northwest and Midwest. Its high point was in 1912, after which they detoured into a disastrous third party status.
Early progressive thinkers such as John Dewey and Lester Ward placed a universal and comprehensive system of education at the top of the progressive agenda, reasoning that if a democracy were to be successful, its leaders, the general public, needed a good education. Progressives worked hard to expand and improve public and private education at all levels. Modernization of society, they believed, necessitated the compulsory education of all children, even if the parents objected. Progressives turned to educational researchers to evaluate the reform agenda by measuring numerous aspects of education, later leading to standardized testing. Many educational reforms and innovations generated during this period continued to influence debates and initiatives in American education for the remainder of the 20th century. One of the most apparent legacies of the Progressive Era left to American education was the perennial drive to reform schools and curricula, often as the product of energetic grass-roots movements in the city.
Since progressivism was and continues to be 'in the eyes of the beholder,' progressive education encompasses very diverse and sometimes conflicting directions in educational policy. Such enduring legacies of the Progressive Era continue to interest historians. Progressive Era reformers stressed 'object teaching,' meeting the needs of particular constituencies within the school district, equal educational opportunity for boys and girls, and avoiding corporal punishment.
Gamson (2003) examines the implementation of progressive reforms in three city school districts—Seattle, Washington, Oakland, California, and Denver, Colorado—during 1900–28. Historians of educational reform during the Progressive Era tend to highlight the fact that many progressive policies and reforms were very different and, at times, even contradictory. At the school district level, contradictory reform policies were often especially apparent, though there is little evidence of confusion among progressive school leaders in Seattle, Oakland, and Denver. District leaders in these cities, including Frank B. Cooper in Seattle and Fred M. Hunter in Oakland, often employed a seemingly contradictory set of reforms: local progressive educators consciously sought to operate independently of national progressive movements; they preferred reforms that were easy to implement; and they were encouraged to mix and blend diverse reforms that had been shown to work in other cities.
The reformers emphasized professionalization and bureaucratization. The old system whereby ward politicians selected school employees was dropped in the case of teachers and replaced by a merit system requiring a college-level education in a normal school (teacher's college). The rapid growth in size and complexity the large urban school systems facilitated stable employment for women teachers and provided senior teachers greater opportunities to mentor younger teachers. By 1900 in Providence, Rhode Island, most women remained as teachers for at least 17.5 years, indicating teaching had become a significant and desirable career path for women.
Regulation of large corporations and monopolies
Many progressives hoped that by regulating large corporations they could liberate human energies from the restrictions imposed by industrial capitalism. Yet the progressive movement was split over which of the following solutions should be used to regulate corporations:
Pro-labor progressives such as Samuel Gompers argued that industrial monopolies were unnatural economic institutions which suppressed the competition which was necessary for progress and improvement. United States antitrust law is the body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior (monopoly) and unfair business practices. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft supported trust-busting. During their presidencies, the otherwise-conservative Taft brought down 90 trusts in four years while Roosevelt took down 44 in 7 1/2 years in office. .
Progressives such as Benjamin Parke De Witt argued that in a modern economy, large corporations and even monopolies were both inevitable and desirable. With their massive resources and economies of scale, large corporations offered the U.S. advantages which smaller companies could not offer. Yet, these large corporations might abuse their great power. The federal government should allow these companies to exist but regulate them for the public interest. President Theodore Roosevelt generally supported this idea and was later to incorporate it as part of his "New Nationalism".
Progressives set up training programs to ensure that welfare and charity work would be undertaken by trained professionals rather than warm-hearted amateurs.
Jane Addams of Chicago's Hull House typified the leadership of residential, community centers operated by social workers and volunteers and located in inner city slums. The purpose of the settlement houses was to raise the standard of living of urbanites by providing adult education and cultural enrichment programs.
Enactment of child labor laws
Child labor laws were designed to prevent the overuse of children in the newly emerging industries. The goal of these laws was to give working class children the opportunity to go to school and to mature more institutionally, thereby liberating the potential of humanity and encouraging the advancement of humanity.Therefore factory owners did not want this progression because of lost workers. They used Charles Dickens as a symbol that the working conditions spark imagination. This initiative failed, with child labor laws being enacted anyways.  
Support for the goals of organized labor
Labor unions grew steadily until 1916, then expanded fast during the war. In 1919 a wave of major strikes alienated the middle class; the strikes were lost, which alienated the workers. In the 1920s the unions were in the doldrums; in 1924 they supported LaFollette's Progressive party, but he only carried his base in Wisconsin. The American Federation of Labor under Samuel Gompers after 1907 began supporting the Democrats, who promised more favorable judges. The Republicans appointed pro-business judges. Theodore Roosevelt and his third party also supported such goals as the eight-hour work day, improved safety and health conditions in factories, workers' compensation laws, and minimum wage laws for women.
Most progressives, especially in rural areas, adopted the cause of prohibition. They saw the saloon as political corruption incarnate, and bewailed the damage done to women and children. They believed the consumption of alcohol limited mankind's potential for advancement. Progressives achieved success first with state laws then with the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. The golden day did not dawn; enforcement was lax, especially in the cities where the law had very limited popular support and where notorious criminal gangs, such as the Chicago gang of Al Capone made a crime spree based on illegal sales of liquor in speakeasies. The "experiment" (as President Hoover called it) also cost the treasury large sums of taxes and the 18th amendment was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1933.
During the term of the progressive President Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909), and influenced by the ideas of 'philosopher-scientists' such as George Perkins Marsh, John Wesley Powell, Lester Frank Ward and W. J. McGee, the largest government-funded conservation-related projects in U.S. history were undertaken:
National parks and wildlife refuges
On March 14, 1903, President Roosevelt created the first National Bird Preserve, (the beginning of the Wildlife Refuge system), on Pelican Island, Florida. In all, by 1909, the Roosevelt administration had created an unprecedented 42 million acres (170,000 km²) of United States National Forests, 53 National Wildlife Refuges and 18 areas of "special interest", such as the Grand Canyon.
In addition, Roosevelt approved the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902, which gave subsidies for irrigation in 13 (eventually 20) western states. Another conservation-oriented bill was the Antiquities Act of 1906 that protected large areas of land by allowing the President to declare areas meriting protection to be National Monuments. The Inland Waterways Commission was appointed by Roosevelt on March 14, 1907 to study the river systems of the United States, including the development of water power, flood control, and land reclamation.
In the early 20th century, politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties, Lincoln–Roosevelt League Republicans (in California) and the Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party pursue environmental, political, and economic reforms, as well as supporting world peace. Chief among these aims was the pursuit of trustbusting (breaking up very large monopolies), support for labor unions, public health programs, decreased corruption in politics, and environmental conservation.
The Progressive Movement enlisted support from both major parties (and from minor parties as well). One leader, Democrat William Jennings Bryan, had won both the Democratic Party and the Populist Party nominations in 1896. The great majority of other major leaders had been opposed to Populism. When Roosevelt left the Republican Party in 1912, he took with him many of the intellectual leaders of progressivism, but very few political leaders. The Republican Party then became notably more committed to business-oriented and efficiency oriented progressivism, typified by Taft and Herbert Hoover.
Equally significant to progressive-era reform were the crusading journalists, known as muckrakers. These journalists publicized, to middle class readers, economic privilege, political corruption, and social injustice. Their articles appeared in McClure's Magazine and other reform periodicals. Some muckrakers focused on corporate abuses. Ida Tarbell, for instance, exposed the activities of the Standard Oil Company. In The Shame of the Cities (1904), Lincoln Steffens dissected corruption in city government. In Following the Color Line (1908), Ray Stannard Baker criticized race relations. Other muckrakers assailed the Senate, railroad companies, insurance companies, and fraud in patent medicine.
Novelists, too, criticized corporate injustices. Theodore Dreiser drew harsh portraits of a type of ruthless businessman in The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914). In The Jungle (1906), Socialist Upton Sinclair repelled readers with descriptions of Chicago's meatpacking plants, and his work led to support for remedial food safety legislation.
Leading intellectuals also shaped the progressive mentality. In Dynamic Sociology (1883) Lester Frank Ward laid out the philosophical foundations of the Progressive movement and attacked the laissez-faire policies advocated by Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner. In The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen attacked the "conspicuous consumption" of the wealthy. Educator John Dewey emphasized a child-centered philosophy of pedagogy, known as progressive education, which affected schoolrooms for three generations.
Other progressive parties
Following the first progressive movement of the early 20th century, two later short-lived parties have also called themselves "progressive".
Progressive Party, 1924
In 1924, Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette ran for president on the "Progressive party" ticket. La Follette won the support of labor unions, Germans and Socialists by his crusade. He carried only Wisconsin and the party vanished outside Wisconsin.
There, it remained a force until the 1940s.
Progressive Party, 1948
A third party was initiated in 1948 by former Vice President Henry A. Wallace as a vehicle for his campaign for president. He saw the two parties as reactionary and war-mongering, and attracted support from left-wing voters who opposed the Cold War policies that had become a national consensus. Most liberals, New Dealers, and especially the CIO unions, denounced the party because it was increasingly controlled by Communists. It faded away after winning 2% of the vote in 1948.
- Democratic Party (United States)
- Center for American Progress
- Conference for Progressive Political Action
- Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Demos (U.S. think tank)
- Great Society
- Green Party of the United States
- Justice Party (United States)
- League for Independent Political Action
- Modern liberalism in the United States
- Mount Vernon Statement
- New Deal
- Occupy Movement
- Progressive Christianity
- Progressive Era
- Progressive Party
- Progressive States Network
- Roosevelt Institute
- Social democracy
- Square Deal
- Welfare state
- "Progressivism". The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05. Archived from the original on 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- Alonzo L. Hamby, "Progressivism: A Century of Change and Rebirth," in Progressivism and the New Democracy, ed. Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), 40 also notes that "a plethora of scholarship in the last half of the 1950s left the old consensus [about progressives] in shreds while producing a plethora of alternative views that defy rational synthesis."
- Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-531106-8.
Progressivism emerged as a response to the excesses of the Gilded age [...] [Progressives] fought for worker's [sic] compensation, child labor laws, minimum wage and maximum hours legislation; they enacted anti-trust laws, improved living conditions in urban slums, instituted the graduated income tax, won woman the right to vote, and the groundwork for Roosevelt's New Deal.
- Link argues that the majority of progressive wanted to purify politics. Link (1954); The "progressives strove to purify politics," concludes Vincent P. De Santis, The shaping of modern America, 1877–1920 (1999) p. 171. In the South, "purification" meant taking the vote away from blacks according to Jimmie Franklin, "Blacks and the Progressive Movement: Emergence of a New Synthesis," Organization of American Historians Jimmie Franklin, Blacks and the Progressive Movement: Emergence of a New Synthesis, Organization of American Historians.
- Leuchtenburg, William (December 1952). "Progressivism and Imperialism: The Progressive Movement and American Foreign Policy, 1898–1916". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39 (3): 483–5. JSTOR 1895006.
- Catherine Cocks et al. (2009). Historical Dictionary of the Progressive Era. Scarecrow Press. p. 112.
- David W. Southern, The Progressive Era and Race: Reaction and Reform, 1900 - 1917 (2005)
- Michael Perman (2010). Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 174.
- Charles P. Henry (1999). Ralph Bunche: Model Negro Or American Other?. NYU Press. pp. 96–98.
- "4. Shall the People Rule?", La Follette campaign literature, Historical Society,
La Follette has ever sought to give the people greater power over their affairs. He has favored and now favors the direct election of senators...
- Quoted in Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur, "Progressivism and the New Democracy," (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999) 19–20
- Philip J. Ethington, "The Metropolis and Multicultural Ethics: Direct Democracy versus Deliberative Democracy in the Progressive Era," in Progressivism and the New Democracy, ed. Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur (Amherst: Massachusetts University Press, 1999), 193
- Aileen S. Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement (1965)
- Michael Perman.Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888–1908. (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), pp 63, 85, 177, 186-87; quotes on pp 223, 298
- Quoted in Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur, "Progressivism and the New Democracy," (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999) 42
- Joseph L. Tropea, "Rational Capitalism and Municipal Government: The Progressive Era." Social Science History (1989): 137–158
- Michael H. Ebner and Eugene M. Tobin, eds., The Age of Urban Reform, (1977)
- Bradley Robert Rice, Progressive cities: the commission government movement in America, 1901–1920 (1977)
- Martin J. Schiesl, The politics of efficiency: municipal reform in the Progressive Era 1880–1920 (1972)
- Kenneth Fox, Better city government: innovation in American urban politics, 1850–1937 (1977)
- John D. Buenker, ed. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2005)
- Melvin G. Holli, Reform in Detroit: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics (1969)
- Eugene C. Murdock, Tom Johnson in Cleveland (1994)
- L. E. Fredman, "Seth Low: Theorist of Municipal Reform," Journal of American Studies 1972 6(1): 19–39,
- The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (Evanston: McDougall Littell, 2006), 308
- J. Michael Hogan (2003). Rhetoric and reform in the Progressive Era. Michigan State U. Press. p. xv. ISBN 978-0-87013-637-5.
- William Thomas Hutchinson (1957). Lowden of Illinois: the life of Frank O. Lowden. U. of Chicago Press. pp. 305 vol 1.
- Smith, Kevin B. (2011). Governing States and Localities. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. pp. 189–190. ISBN 978-1-60426-728-0.
- Carlos A. Schwantes (1996). The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 347–.
- Ravitch, Diane; Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms; Simon & Schuster
- William J. Reese, Power and the Promise of School Reform: Grassroots Movements during the Progressive Era (1986)
- Kathleen A. Murphey, "Common School or 'One Best System'? Tracking School Reform in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1853–75" Historical Studies in Education 1999 11(2): 188–211
- Gamson, David (2003). "District Progressivism: Rethinking Reform in Urban School Systems, 1900–1928,". Paedagogica Historica 39 (4): 417–434. doi:10.1080/00309230307479.
- The politicians still picked the school janitors.
- Victoria-María MacDonald, "The Paradox of Bureaucratization: New Views on Progressive Era Teachers and the Development of a Woman's Profession," History of Education Quarterly 1999 39(4): 427–453
- Published in Puck (23 January 1889)
- Samuel Gompers. Labor and antitrust legislation. The facts, theory and argument: a brief and appeal. Amer. Federation of Labor; 1914.
- Gompers, Samuel; McBride, John; Green, William (1916), The American federationist, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. p. 839.
- Kolasky, William. "Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft: Marching Toward Armageddon" (PDF). Antitrust, Vol. 25, No. 2, Spring 2011. © 2011. the American Bar Association. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- Gompers, McBride & Green 1916, p. 129.
- Mina Carson, Settlement Folk: Social Thought and the American Settlement Movement, 1885–1930 (1990)
- Judith Ann Trolander, "Hull-House and the Settlement House Movement: A Centennial Reassessment," Journal of Urban History 1991 17(4): 410–420
- Walter I. Trattner, Crusade for the Children: A History of the National Child Labor Committee and Child Labor Reform in America (1970)
- Hugh D. Hindman, Child Labor: An American History (2002). 431 pp
- Charles Dickens
- Julie Greene, Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and Political Activism, 1881–1917 (1998)
- James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920 (1970)
- Norman H. Clark, Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition (1976)
- Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2011) excerpt and text search
- "Ross, John R.; Man Over Nature - Origins of the Conservation Movement". Journals.ku.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
- "Conservation Commissions and Conferences under the Roosevelt Administration 1901-1909". Theodore Roosevelt Association. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- Buenker and Burnham (2006)
- Lewis Gould, Four hats in the ring: the 1912 election and the birth of modern American Politics (2008)
- Joan Hoff Wilson, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (1975)
- Robert Brett Westbrook, John Dewey and American democracy (1991)
- Henry Steele Commager, The American Mind (1952)
- Louis Filler, The Muckrakers (1976)
- Henry Steele Commager, ed., Lester Frank Ward and the Welfare State (1967)
- Buenker and Buenker, eds. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. (2005)
- David P. Thelen, Robert M. LaFollette and the insurgent spirit (1976)
- Thomas W. Devine (2013). Henry Wallace's 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism. U North Carolina Press. pp. 195–201, 211–12.
- Buenker, John D., John C. Burnham, and Robert M. Crunden. Progressivism (1986) short overview
- Buenker, John D. and Joseph Buenker, eds. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. (2005) 1290 pp. in three volumes. 900 articles by 200 scholars
- Buenker, John D. ed. Dictionary of the Progressive Era (1980), short articles by scholars
- Chambers, John Whiteclay, II. The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era, 1890–1920 (2000), textbook excerpt and text search
- Crunden, Robert M. Ministers of Reform: The Progressives' Achievement in American Civilization, 1889–1920 (1982) excerpt and text search
- Diner, Steven J. A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era (1998) excerpt and text search
- Flanagan, Maureen. America Reformed: Progressives and Progressivisms, 1890s–1920s (2007).
- Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth. Who Were the Progressives? (2002)
- Gould, Lewis L. America in the Progressive Era, 1890–1914" (2000) excerpt and text search
- Gould Lewis L. ed., The Progressive Era (1974), essays by scholars
- Hays, Samuel P. The Response to Industrialism, 1885–1914 (1957), old but influential short survey
- Hofstadter, Richard The Age of Reform (1954), Pulitzer Prize, but now sadly outdated
- Jensen, Richard. "Democracy, Republicanism and Efficiency: The Values of American Politics, 1885–1930," in Byron Shafer and Anthony Badger, eds, Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (U of Kansas Press, 2001) pp 149–180; online version
- Johnston, Robert D. "Re-Democratizing the Progressive Era: The Politics of Progressive Era Political Historiography," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2002) 1#1 pp 68-92
- Kennedy, David M. ed., Progressivism: The Critical Issues (1971), readings
- Kloppenberg, James T. Uncertain victory: social democracy and progressivism in European and American thought, 1870–1920 1986 online at ACLS e-books
- Leuchtenburg, William E. "Progressivism and Imperialism: The Progressive Movement and American Foreign Policy, 1898–1916," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 39, No. 3. (Dec., 1952), pp. 483–504. JSTOR
- Link, Arthur S. Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era: 1913–1917 (1954), standard scholarly survey
- Link, Arthur S. Wilson: The Road to the White House (1947), first volume of standard biography (to 1917); Wilson: The New Freedom (1956); Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality: 1914–1915 (1960); Wilson: Confusions and Crises: 1915–1916 (1964); Wilson: Campaigns for Progressivism and Peace: 1916–1917 (1965), the last volume of standard biography. all 5 volumes are online free (if you have an account) at ACLS e-books
- Mann, Arthur. ed., The Progressive Era (1975), readings from scholars
- Lasch, Christopher. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics (1991) excerpt and text search
- McGerr, Michael. A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920 (2003)
- Mowry, George. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Modern America, 1900–1912. (1954) general survey of era
- Noggle, Burl. "The Twenties: A New Historiographical Frontier," The Journal of American History, Vol. 53, No. 2. (Sep., 1966), pp. 299–314. in JSTOR
- Perry, Elisabeth Israels and Karen Manners Smith, eds. The Gilded Age & Progressive Era: A Student Companion (2006)
- Piott, Steven. American Reformers 1870–1920 (2006). 240 pp. biographies of 12 leaders online review
- Schutz, Aaron. Social Class, Social Action, and Education: The Failure of Progressive Democracy. (2010) introduction
- Thelen, David P. "Social Tensions and the Origins of Progressivism," Journal of American History 56 (1969), 323–341 JSTOR
- Wiebe, Robert. The Search For Order, 1877–1920 (1967) highly influential interpretation
- Blum, John Morton The Republican Roosevelt. (1954). Series of essays that examine how TR did politics
- Brands, H.W. Theodore Roosevelt (2001), biography online edition
- Buenker, John D. and Joseph Buenker, eds. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Sharpe Reference, 2005. xxxii + 1256 pp. in three volumes. ISBN 0-7656-8051-3. 900 articles by 200 scholars
- Buenker, John D., ed. Dictionary of the Progressive Era (1980)
- Cocks, Catherine, Peter C. Holloran and Alan Lessoff. Historical Dictionary of the Progressive Era (2009)
- Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1992) excerpt and text search
- Coletta, Paolo. The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1990) excerpt and text search
- Cooper, John Milton The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. (1983), influential dual biography excerpt and text search
- Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1991) excerpt and text search
- Harrison, Robert. Congress, Progressive Reform, and the New American State (2004) excerpt and text search
- Hofstadter, Richard. The American Political Tradition (1948), ch. 8–10 on Bryan, Roosevelt and Wilson. excerpt and text search
- Link, Arthur Stanley. Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910–1917 (1972), standard history
- Morris, Edmund Theodore Rex. (2001), very well written biography of Theodore Roosevelt covers 1901–1909 excerpt and text search
- Mowry, George E. Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement. (2001) standard history of 1912 movement
- Sanders, Elizabeth. Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers and the American State, 1877–1917 (1999) excerpt and text search
- Wilson, Joan Hoff. Herbert Hoover, Forgotten Progressive (1965), favorable to Hoover
- Progressive Republicans
- "What Is Progressive?", AlterNet opinion piece, July 25, 2005
- Common Dreams list of progressive websites by popularity
- 500 Leading Progressive Organizations in the United States by Category
- The Empathic Science Institute—the starting point for a progressive methodology for political science
- The Fifty Most Influential Progressives of the Twentieth Century: Part I, Part II, Part III—slideshows by The Nation