The World of the Play

America’s Gilded Age

In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, during what has become known as the Gilded Age (1870 – 1900), the population of the United States doubled in the span of a single generation. As national wealth expanded, two classes rose simultaneously, separated by a gulf of experience and circumstance that was unprecedented in American life.
- Source: PBS

All That Glitters is Not Gold

“Gilded – covered thinly with gold leaf or gold paint.” The irony of the term came to symbolize the contrast between the pampered upper class and the increasingly poor immigrant and working classes. Take a glance at some of the sights and typical views of the era.
- Source: Pintrest (collection of other linked sources)

Medicalizing Society

The rise of psychiatry was funded by America’s Gilded Age industrialists. Their aim: to cast society’s ills as problems of individual “mental health.”
- Source: Jacobin

The Gilded Age and How American Inequality Compares to Today

It was a party, but also a paradox. As historian Nell Irvin Painter explains, “‘Gilded’ is not golden. ‘Gilded’ has the sense of a patina covering something else. It’s the shiny exterior and the rot underneath.” Explore this comparison of wealth inequality past and present.
- Source: Time

The Eyes of the Playwright

Slip into the headspace of playwright and see some images of inspiration they took into writing the piece.
- Source: Pintrest (collection of other linked sources)

Jane Addams, Neighboring with the Poor

As a child, Jane Addams witnessed the harsh conditions faced by families living in poor neighborhoods of Chicago. As an adult, Addams co-founded a settlement house called Hull House that provided social, educational and artistic support to the community.
- Source: NBC News Learn

Post Civil War Mental Health

The past several years have been extraordinarily challenging for Americans. Has it “cracked us” as New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow contends? “The trauma of mass death and disruption is real, but Americans also have long demonstrated an incredible ability to self-soothe their trauma and distress under challenging circumstance.”
- Source: The Washington Post

Women’s Experience and Gender Roles in the Gilded Age

While the status of women in America was no doubt changing over the course of the Gilded Age, it was not all the same change for all women in the U.S. Around the nation, progress was made during this period that would affect women in major ways for the coming eras.
- Source: Northern Illinois University Library