This project seeks to document and represent the rapid and far-reaching social effects of railroads and to explore the transformation of the United States to modern ideas, institutions, and practices in the nineteenth century. The railroad was the first and most complex national system in American history. The records of this system's colossal growth are as diverse as they are voluminous, ranging from massive and detailed corporate records to editorials, cartoons, poetry, songs, and even abandoned track lines in today's landscape. While many histories have addressed the railroad's importance, we need a new approach that takes account of how the railroad triggered unexpected outcomes in American society and how the system became wedded into the fabric of modern America. Railroads and the Making of Modern America seeks to use the digital medium to investigate, represent, and analyze this social change and document episodes of the railroad's social consequence.
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