The swift and profound transformations in technology and industry that
the United States began to experience in the late 1800s manifested themselves in
school textbooks, which presented different patterns of race, ethnicity, and otherness.
They also displayed concepts like national identity, exceptionalism, and the
superiority of Euro-American civilization. This article aims to demonstrate, via an
analysis of two textbooks, how world geography was taught to children in primary
schools in nineteenth century America. It shows that the development of American
identity coincided with the emergence of the realm of the “other,” that is, with the
intensification of racial attitudes and prejudices, some of which were to persist well
into the twentieth century.