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This introductory survey course covers United States history through the lives of representative Americans. A series of biographies of major figures who confronted the pivotal issues and challenges of their times structure the course. Themes include colonial life, the emergence of American national identity, the founding and preservation of the republic, the struggle against slavery and racism, the spread of capitalism and industrialization, the rise of foreign affairs, the influence of immigration, the growth of the federal welfare state, and the creation of an inclusive society.

HIS 155 is a core course, with a cap of 33 students. The size of the class in addition to how the course is typically scheduled makes field trips unwieldy. Furthermore, because it is a requirement, most students give it low priority in terms of how much time they will commit to it. In view of this, I chose to make my project optional. For extra credit, students could choose to visit a location in the city related to a class topic. I chose Franklin Court (part of unit in which we read his Autobiography); the reenactment of the Battle of Germantown (unit on the Revolution); and the Custom House / Market Street Post Office (unit on the New Deal works projects). They had to document their visit with a photograph and brief description. All sites are free.