Matters of Education

Learning Happens Everywhere

The Rise of Popular Culture in the 19th Century

Length of Time:   1-3 Class periods


Several factors came together in the middle of the 19th century that led to the rise of new forms of popular culture. Technological advancements made newspapers, photographs, cartoons, sheet music and lithographs relatively inexpensive to produce. A rising middle class had disposable income and a strong desire for items that would allow them to copy their wealthier role models.

The onset of the Civil War spurred demand for information as well as a shift to wartime content. Visual images, not dependent on literacy, and available to the working classes, were increasingly desired. Everything that was produced had a point of view, a perspective and often a definite bias.

Essential Questions

How did popular culture create common culture despite increasing diversity among the population of the United States in the 19th Century?

Common Core Standards

English/Language Arts: Anchor Standards, CCRS for Reading Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Content Standards