Sarah Gold McBride:”School Begins” by Puck (1899)


Guided Discussion Questions 

  • The Spanish–American War occurred in 1898, and its concluding treaty was signed just one month before Puck published this cartoon; one major component of that treaty was that Spain gave the U.S. control over the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. How does this historical context shape your interpretation of this print?
  • Both the blackboard and the white sign above the doorway display messages about “the consent of the governed.” Do these textual messages reinforce, contradict, or complicate the visual messages of the caricatured people in this print? How?
  • Since newspapers and magazines like Puck served as a crucial source of information for white Americans during the nineteenth century, what do you think Puck‘s editors wanted their readers to conclude after looking at this print?
  • How did Louis Dalrymple, the Puck artist who created this print, signal the racial identity of the caricatured figures in this print? (Take a close look at their faces, facial expressions, clothing, hair, accessories, and body language.)
Dr. Sarah Gold McBride is a Lecturer in the American Studies Program at UC Berkeley, where she also received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History. As a historian and teacher, her work centers on the social and cultural history of the nineteenth-century United States, and on the way we teach (and the way students learn) about the past. She is a co-founder of The Teaching History Conference and the current Executive Director of the Western Association of Women Historians. Dr. Gold McBride is currently working on a book about the meaning of hair in nineteenth-century America. She tweets about teaching (and sometimes about hair!) at @sgoldmcbride.