Library Digital Content Access

The American Dream: Past, Present, and Future

Interpreting the American Dream at the Turn of the Century:
Ragtime, Grovers Corner, and Spoon River

Created By: Marty Sierra-Perry, Centennial High School (Champaign, IL)


This mini-project introduces the student to the ideas of the American Dream at the turn of the century. This mini-project will initiate a semester inquiry about the following:

  1. How have diverse groups in the U.S. population participated in the institutions of democratic life?
  2. What have been the processes and consequences of migration for people of the United States?
  3. How has the United States changed from an agrarian, rural society to an industrial, urban society?
  4. What effects have the shifts in population, changes in American social life, and influences of world events had on the development of American culture and literature?
  5. How has the American Dream, American Morality, and the American Hero evolved through the decades?


After completing this mini-project, students will:


Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Background information:

Ragtime by Doctorow
Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Online Resources:

Teaching with Digital Content

American Memory Collection:

Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters


Microsoft Word brochure template


Read through Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Select ten of the epitaphs. Summarize their stories. Select one to focus your interpretation. Your completed brochure will include the epitaph, your illustrated obituary, and works cited information.