The online exhibitions are a particularly interesting feature of the Digital Public Library of America. These exhibitions, all of which focus on a specific aspect of US history, include: Women with Wings: American Aviatrixes; Indomitable Spirits: Prohibition in the United States; Staking Claims: The Gold Rush in Nineteenth-Century America; Bread and Roses Strike of 1912: Two Months in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that Changed Labor History; The Show Must Go On! American Theater in the Great Depression.
The most recent exhibition is titled Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. This exhibition explores the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad and its impact on American westward expansion. It is divided into five themes: History; Human Impact; Changing the Landscape; A Nation Divided; A Nation Transformed.
As the United States began the most deadly conflict in its history, the American Civil War, it was also laying the groundwork for one of its greatest achievements in transportation. The First Transcontinental Railroad, approved by Congress in the midst of war, helped connect the country in ways never before possible. Americans could travel from coast to coast with speed, changing how Americans lived, traded, and communicated while disrupting ways of life practiced for centuries by Native American populations. The coast-to-coast railroad was the result of the work of thousands of Americans, many of whom were Chinese immigrant laborers who worked under discriminatory pressures and for lower wages than their Irish counterparts. These laborers braved incredibly harsh conditions to lay thousands of miles of track. That track—the work of two railroad companies competing to lay the most miles from opposite directions—came together with the famous Golden Spike at Promontory Summit in Utah on May 10, 1869.