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Impact of the Progressive Era

Subject: Eighth-grade, Social Studies
Written by:
Larry Bellis, Pitt County Schools, Greenville, NC

Lesson Plan Format


The inception of ECU is an example of the Progressive Era’s impact in North Carolina. It can be used to represent many of the schools that were begun in the state (and nation) during this time.



COMPETENCY GOAL 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social, and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.

Objective 5.02: Examine the changing role of educational, religious, and social institutions in the state and analyze their impact.

Time Required for Lesson:
One period and homework assignment.

Materials/Supplies Needed:
Access to computer or printed copies of documents available at: East Carolina University Centennial Exhibit: (; pencil and paper.

Recommended Digital Resources:

News articles, letters, and legislation concerning the founding of the East Carolina Teachers Training School:

"The Wilson Normal: Elder P.D. Gold of Wilson Addresses the Committee on Education", 7 March 1901

"The Wilson Normal: Delegation in Its Behalf Urge Its Establishment", 5 March 1901

"A Delegation from Elizabeth City Here in the Interest of a State Normal School in that City", 8 February 1905

"An Act to Stimulate High School Instruction in the Public Schools of the State and Teacher Training", 1907

"Reasons Why the Citizens of Pitt Should Vote in Favor of the School Bonds...", 1907

To My Dear Sir, 21 February 1907

"Notice to the Voters of Pitt County", 1 April 1907

Greenville's Proposal for ECTTS, 5 June 1907

"Greenville Gets Training School", 11 July 1907

"Greenville Winner of Training School", 12 July 1907

Lesson Plan Format

Focus and Review:
During the Progressive Era, North Carolina and the United States focused on the improvement and spread of education among the entire population. In the South, that movement was complicated by racial segregation. By 1900, eastern North Carolina had teacher training schools for African Americans, but there was none for whites. East Carolina Teachers Training School provided an answer to this problem. It also reflected the creation of similar schools throughout the state.

Statement of Objectives/Inquiry Formation:
Statement of Objectives/Inquiry Formation:
Students will understand that the creation of schools for the training of teachers was an important part of the Progressive Era’s emphasis on educational improvement for all people.

Teacher Input:
The teacher will discuss the debate over the location of a teacher training school in eastern North Carolina, opposition to such a school along sectional lines, and the rationale for creating such a school.

Individual Activities:
After reading the news articles and other documents available on the Web site, write a letter to the editor defending one town over the others that sought the school.

Reflection and Closure:
We live during a time of great, rapid change—much like that of the Progressive Era. What changes in education do you think need to be made in order to prepare today’s students for the challenges they will face in their lives? List at least two reasons and defend your answer based on what we have studied in class.

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Page Updated 01 September 2004
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