... for the Week of January 31, 2000
... for the Week of January 24, 2000
... for the Week of January 17, 2000
Between the end of the Great War and the crash of the Stock
Market in 1929, the '20s was a decade marked by mobility, intolerance and
contrast. Americans began a century long migration to the cities and
suburbs and the social status of many minorities, including women and black Americans, was
on the rise. But life was far from perfect for many. Immigrants that had
worked for the good of the war, were shunned in favor of returning veterans.
Lynchings of black Americans, was at a post-Civil War high. The Ku Klux Klan was
marching down Constitution Avenue. The prejudice went as far as to cost two Italians
their lives. On the farms of the midwest, black clouds were forming. Low
prices strangled the bread basket, foreshadowing a tumultuous collapse. Yet in the big
city, life was carefree. Talkies were hitting the local theatres, speakeasies were
around every corner and there seemed to be a sitter on every flagpole. Flappers,
Fords and fads dominated the social scene, and Republican presidents set the nation free,
letting big business do as they pleased. America turned its eyes away from foreign
troubles, an act that would later have a deadly price.
A Russian Immigrant Testifies to a
group of attorneys investigating the Palmer Raids, 1920.
The IWW Constitution illustrates the ideas of
those who were critical of American Democracy.
Sacco and Vanzetti on Trial -
Were they tried and executed for what they did..or who they were?
Documents regarding the changing moral
values championed by the new youth.
Dear Parents...an open letter from a Flapper - by
Ellen Welles Page, from Outlook Magazine, Dec. 6, 1922
Listen to and learn how to do The Charleston, the
dance that defined the decade.
Voice of the Renaissance - Langston
Hughes expresses both anger and hope through poetry.
Satchmo Plays the Blues - Hear Louis Armstrong
and the birth of Jazz
If ever there was a
symbol for a decade, the flapper was it. Like the
country that created her, the flapper was a free-spririt, driven to explore her new
world. She drove, drank (despite prohibition), smoked, and didn't seem to have a
care in the world. For ten years, like her nation, she lived it up - oblivious
to the pitfalls ahead. From Life Magazine, art by John
| The Twenties saw the car
become a crucial part of the American culture. Ford made his Model-T affordable and
the prosperity of the '20s made the car a necessity, especially for the flapper.
Taking a drive to the country, like this scene outside of Boston, become typical fare for
the growing middle class.
|| Black Americans were also
on the move - northward. Trying to escape the grasp of Jim Crow, Blacks initially
began heading north at the outbreak of the war. Good factory jobs were plentiful
making war materiel. This family, just off the train in Chicago, settled in
historically-established Black communities on the city's south side. Chicago still
remains a geographically segragated city.
A popular destination of
Black Americans was a neighborhood in New York City's Manhattan borough - Harlem. A renaissance of literature ,art and music fueled by thousands of migrating Black Americans made
Harlem a mecca of Black culture. Above, The Creation by Aaron Douglass.
| Though Black Americans
were moving, however slowly, up the social ladder, the forces working against them were
getting stronger as well. It wasn't since the first decade after the Civil War that
lychings of Black Americans were so widespread. In 1920, the Ku Klux Klan marched in
Washington D.C. with the Capital Building as a backdrop.
|| The intolerance of the
1920s didn't end with the KKK. The flood of immigrants, especially those from
eastern Europe, scare many Americans. Some of these "reds" as they
were called, brought with them ideas of anarchy and revolution. Popular belief
envisioned "reds" sneaking into America with a torch of anarchy and a knife of
Their socialist ideas
were borne from their economic class - they worked in America's factories and although the
Progressive Era made progress towards improving their situation, unions still provided the
strength the working class needed. The Industrial Workers of the World championed
"The Advancing Proletariat" as illustrated by the cover of this songbook.
| Another unique aspect of
the '20s was Prohibition. Initially banned in some parts of the country to conserve
wheat during the Great War, alcohol as seen by many as the root of many evils, including
poverty, violence and infidelity. In Chicago, a city with a large German population
known for its production and consumption of alcohol, federal agents dumped barrels of
alcohol into Lake Michigan, 1923
Americans found a way to get around the law and many estimate the consumption of alcohol
actually went up during the '20s. Its criminal nature certainly made it more
appealing to flappers and their "sheiks" who would do anything if they knew it
angered their parents and the older generation. At left, a man knocks on a door, an
eye peers out, and he "speaks easy" to get in.
Called by some an Era of
Wonderful Nonsense, the '20s had its share of fads and follies. One of the most
interesting was flagpole sitting. The man at left was one of 13 people who were
flagpole sitting in Baltimore at one time in 1926. Others included wing-walking and
marathon dancing (one couple danced for 217 days).
| Among the crazes was the
Charleston, a dance that both thrilled youth and disgusted their parents. There were
many different kinds of the Charleston, each type assimilating with the syncopation of the
music. Learn How to do one type of the Charleston.
|| The '20s were also
considered a Golden Age of sports. The media created heroes, the public idolized
them and the economic prosperity of the times allowed Americans the time and money to see
them perform. One of the greatest was "The Galloping Ghost," Harold
"Red" Grange, a product of Wheaton, Illinois, who went on to star for the
University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears.
Examples of fear of foreign ideas
Harding's method/philosophy of normalcy
Impact of the Automobile
Reasons the Klan gains power
Explain Anti-immigrant attitudes in America
Advertising effect on "consumerism"
Examples of Labor troubles
the scandals that rock Harding
'20s - a financial house of cards
Rural and urban changes
Define the flapper - what made her so?
Noble Experiment - why it worked and why it failed
Changing aspects of women's employment
Examples clashes between the old and the new (Science and Religion)
Change in the life at home
| What do the rise in school attendance, radio and
media say about America?
for northward migration
| Sports Icons - Why did the decade breed their
Conditions upon arrival in the north. What were they greeted by?
| Know the artist and authors that defined the decade
terms of Harlem, what was re-born? What and who did this renaissance produce?