1920s & 1930sinAmerica
Unit 8: Prosperity and DepressionChp. 9-12Part 3: Cultural Changes in America
Conflicts over ValuesUrbanization of America—jobs were moving to the citiesValues differed between rural & urbanRural = hard work, self-reliance, religion, slow-paced & innocentUrban = unions, socialism, trendy, fast-paced& worldlyKKK—shifted to political influenceRacial & Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities, & “radicals” were targetedRemained as the terrorist wing of the Southern Democratic partyMembership declined rapidly at the end of the 1920s—series of brutal scandals & onset of the Depression
New Opportunities19thAmendment allowed women tovote—somewereelectedWomenjoined the workforce in largenumbersMore womenattendedcollegeFlappersShocked society—short hair,short skirts, makeup,smoke/drink, dancing, urban lifestyleYoung, rebelliousgirls—defiedtraditional ideas of proper dress andbehaviorMany women disapprovedof flappers or wouldn’t dare to be soreckless—not takenseriously by women’srightsreformers
The Rise of Fundamentalism
Religious Revivals Swept AmericaBillySundayFormer pro baseball playerand ordainedministerCondemned radicals, rampant greedCriticizedtheattitudes toward women & materialism—RuralAmerica’s ideals.Simple message of faith &life—forgiven & born-again—2ndchanceBased ona literal translation of the Bible calledfundamentalism.Influenced Billy Graham & Martin Luther King, Jr.AimeeSempleMcPhersonFemalefundamentalistpreacherEmbraced some ofthe glamour that other fundamentalists warned aboutEspeciallywell known for healing the sick through prayer.Controversial—fund-raising scandal
Scopes TrialTennessee case over the teaching of Darwin’s Theory of EvolutionFocused attention on fundamentalism vs. scienceLed to limits on public religious action—Am. Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)Prohibition on AlcoholTemperance Reforms (1800s) were aided by the Progressives (1900s)Health & Safety/Protestant Christian groups pushed for Prohibition Reforms1917—50+% of states had passed it18thAmendment—proposed in 1917 & ratified in 1919Volstead Act (1919) enforced it in US
Enforcing the new Prohibition law proved to be virtually impossible, as making, transporting, and selling alcohol was illegal, but drinking it was not.Prohibition gave rise to huge smuggling operations, as alcohol slipped into the country through states like Michigan on the Canadian border.Federal officials estimated that in 1925 they caught only 5 percent of all the illegal liquor entering the country.Many people also made their own liquor using homemade equipment, or got alcohol from doctors as medicine.The illegal liquor business was part of organized crime—Chicago gangster Al Capone’s crew, who smashed competition, then frightened and bribed police and officials.Only 3,000 Prohibition agents nationwide worked to enforce the law.Millions of Americans violated the laws, but it would be many years before Prohibition came to an end.
The Arts and Pop Culture
Rise of the RadioGuglielmoMarconi invented the radio(1894)By 1910—military & shipsusedit1920—Radio hobbyist in Pittsburgh broadcast music onhisradio10/1920—George Westinghousestarted KDKA,1stradio stationBy 1922—570 stations in the USBetter technology drove popularityAmerican MusicJazz, Blues, Country, Folk, Western, & Gospel music from everywhere was heard by all—regionalnationalRadios and record sales spread styles and songs throughout the USShows, clubs, concerts, etc.
The HarlemRenaissanceEntertainment offered pride & some newopportunities for AfricanAmericansPerformersPaulRobeson—acting & operaJosephine Baker—singer &dancer in the U.S. and in Europe.WritersZoraNeale Hurston& JamesWeldonJohnson—modern topical writingClaudeMcKay&Langston Hughes—poetryMusiciansJazz—blends formsfrom the Lower South with newtechniques--improvisationLouis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller
The Stars of PopularCulture
Radio Station BoomThe growing popularity of those simple broadcasts caught the attention of Westinghouse, a radio manufacturer.In October 1920, Westinghouse started KDKA, the first radio station.By 1922 the U.S. had 570 stations.Technical improvements in sound and size helped popularity.Americans now had a shared experience.
MoviesMovies became increasingly popularSilent Era & development of movie-makingTechnology improvedUse of make-up & special effectsActors developed characters—directors shaped techniquesTalkies & Animation add to experience1927—The Jazz Singer—1sttalking movie—changed industry1928—Steamboat Willie—Walt Disney brought Mickey Mouse & sound to cartoonsBy 1932 100 million movie tickets were sold per week—US pop. was 123 million
Charles Lindbergh was a daredevil pilot who practiced his skills as an airmail pilot, a dangerous, life-threatening job at the time.Lindbergh heard about a $25,000 prize for the first aviator to fly a nonstoptransatlanticflight, or a flight across the Atlantic Ocean, and wanted to win.On May 21, 1927, Lindbergh succeeded by touching down in Paris, France after a thirty-three-and-a-half-hour flight from New York.Lindbergh earned the name “Lucky Lindy” and became the most beloved American hero of the time.
A little over a year after Lindbergh’s flight,Amelia Earhartbecame the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, returning to the U.S. as a hero.She went on to set numerous speed and distance records as a pilot.In 1937 she was most of the way through a record-breaking flight around the world when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
Pilot Heroes of the Twenties
Radio helped inflame the public passion for sports, and millions of Americans tuned in to broadcasts of ballgames and prize fights featuring their favorite athletes who gave them something to cheer for in troubled times.Boxing—a means for the poor to get out of the streets—the only integrated pro sportJack Dempsey—came out of the mining camps of the west to become one of the most beloved boxers of all timeJames J. Braddock—overcame injury and financial ruin in the depression to become the hero of the nation as heavyweight champJoe Louis—African American fighter who became a hero—first for his race and then for his nation—nearly a 20 year span as champFootball—growing fan base after 1900 as more and more people got college degrees and identified with college teamsRed Grange—Illinois star who played before huge crowds and dazzled fans with his athleticism—turned pro after college and made the NFL a legitimate sportKnute Rockne and Notre Dame—small Catholic school in the Midwest that played powerful teams from all over the nation, creating a large loyal fan following—American CatholicsJim Thorpe—Native American who was a legendary Olympian and college star who continued as one of the founding fathers of the NFL
Sports Heroes (cont’d.)
Baseball—gained prominence in spite of the “Black Sox Scandal” of the 1919 World SeriesBabe Ruth—larger than life figure whose accomplishments on the field were legendary—changed the game foreverLou Gehrig—heroic player who battled a fatal illness with public dignityWalter Johnson—re-wrote the pitching recordsRogers Hornsby & Dizzie Dean—Put the St. Louis Cardinals on the baseball mapNew York became the center of pro baseball with 3 teams (NY Yankees, NY Giants, & Brooklyn Dodgers)Negro Leagues—Segregation was extended to pro sports—these all-black teams were wildly popular and extremely talented—Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and “Cool Papa” Bell
The Voice of the People
Will RogersCherokee cowboy, writer, commentator, actor and comedianSimilar to Mark Twain and Johnny Carson as someone who poked fun at people in power—Congress, President Hoover, etc.Died in a plane crash in AlaskaJimmie RodgersRR Brakeman, guitarist, singer, and song-writerCombined folk music, blues, country music, and jazz“Father of Country Music”—brought the day-to-day life of the common people to a mass audience—sang about the lives of the homeless, rural America, and the working poorDied of tuberculosis shortly after a massive recording session that preserved his music and provided for his familyWoody GuthrieSinger, guitar player, song-writer, political activist, and social commentatorUsed his songs and performances to raise awareness and tell the story of the less fortunate—commissioned by the US government to chronicle the WPA and PWA projects of the New DealBecame the outspoken advocate of the persecuted—inspired future singers