Ohio History Journal

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Urban Political Change

in the Progressive Era


The nature and sources of political change in the early twentieth

century are among the favorite topics for assessment and reassessment

among American historians. The degree of concern is understandable,

for the Progressive period witnessed considerable expansion in govern-

mental functions and major changes in governmental structure. This

transformation in form and function was perhaps more pronounced in

the nation's cities than in any other segment of the society, and urban

historicans have joined enthusiastically in the debate over the char-

acter and definition of progressivism.

In the 1940s Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., set the terms for much of

this debate by arguing that the history of American liberalism, of

which progressivism represented one chapter, consisted of efforts by



Books reviewed in this essay:

The Age of Urban Reform: New Perspectives on the Progressive Era.

Edited by Michael H. Ebner and Eugene M. Tobin. (Port Washing-

ton, NY: Kennikat Press, 1977, viii + 213p.; tables, maps, biblio-

graphic guide, notes, index. $12.95 cloth; $7.95 paper.)

Progressive Cities: The Commission Government Movement in Amer-

ica, 1901-1920. By Bradley Robert Rice. (Austin: The University of

Texas Press, 1977. xix + 160p.; tables, appendix, notes, selected

bibliography, index. $10.95.)

Better City Government: Innovation in American Urban Politics, 1850-

1937. By Kenneth Fox. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,

1977. xxi + 222p.; notes, bibliographic essay, index. $15.00.)

The Politics of Efficiency: Municipal Administration and Reform in

America, 1880-1920. By Martin J. Schiesl. (Berkeley: University of

California Press, 1977. ix + 259p.; notes, bibliography, index. $11.75.)





James F. Richardson is Professor of History and Urban Studies at The University of