1920s and 1930s culture
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1920s and 1930s CultureThe 1920s was an era of extreme economic growth, major social and cultural changes, and political conservatism. From music, film, and literature to religion and society, influential leaders were creating and pushing for change in the United States. The "roaring" 1920s era came to an end with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929.
Domestic and Social Changes of the 1920sThe 18th Amendment, passed in 1919, results in the prohibition of alcohol. This is done because many groups believe alcohol is harmful to society. Prohibition leads to a rise in gangster warfare and speakeasies (places that sell alcohol illegally). Anti-communist, conservative feelings lead to a Red Scare in 1919 and 1920, in which the Palmer Raids arrest a large number of alleged radicals.
Domestic and Social Changes of the 1920sThe Immigration Act of 1924 places strict quotas on immigration from Asia and Eastern Europe, greatly reducing the number of individuals allowed to legally enter the United States The controversial Sacco and Vanzetti trial (1921) convicts two anarchists of murder and sentences them to death. Many believe the trial was unfairly influenced by anti-immigrant and anti-radical feelings of the era.
Domestic and Social Changes of the 1920sAlso associated with the pro-nativist feelings of the early 20th century was the reformation of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The KKK was reformed in 1915 by William J. Simmons, an ex-minister in Georgia. The new Klan added antiCatholicism and nativism to its white supremacy beliefs. The Klan spread quickly through the North and South and added many members all over the country. During World War I, the Klan had an intense patriotism.
August 9, 1925. KKK services. Complete with flaming 80-foot cross, some 100,000 people thought to have attended.
Entertainment in the 1920sRadio and motion pictures become much more popular forms of entertainment and reach a broader audience. In 1920, the first commercial broadcasting radio station is established in the United States. In 1926, the first radio broadcasting network is formed, which brings with it the golden age of radio. Shows, speeches, and music are played in homes all over the U.S.
Entertainment in the 1920sFamilies listen to Westerns and quiz shows on the radio together. Jazz music spreads in popularity because of the radio and musicians like Louis Armstrong. Armstrong was known for his improvisation when he played, and he was a major influence on the development of jazz in the 1920s. New authors emerge, many of whom become known as "the lost generation." These writers build a new kind of literature out of their disillusion and rejection following World War I. King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band These authors include Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Entertainment in the 1920sNews and entertainment is readily available in homes across the U.S. Companies begin advertising new products on the radio according to what kind of people are listening to a specific program. Irving Berlin creates many famous songs for Broadway musicals. Berlin also writes patriotic music, his most famous song being "God Bless America." He composes all of the music for seventeen movies and twenty-one Broadway musicals.
Entertainment in the 1920sIn the 1900s and into the 1920s, motion pictures without sound, called silent films, are made. Moviegoers must read the dialogue on screen. In 1927, spoken dialogue is introduced in the first talking movie, or "talkie," called The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson.
Increasing Equality for WomenAlice Paul organizes suffragist parades for the sake of women's rights. In 1916, Paul forms the National Women's Party, which fights hard for a constitutional amendment that would extend suffrage to women. Carrie Chapman Catt also becomes a notable leader of the women's suffrage movement in the early 1900s. She and others fight for women's right to vote by holding meetings, organizing protests, and speaking before government leaders. Catt holds the position of president for National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1900 1904 and 19151920. Ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 grants women the right to vote.
Increasing Equality for WomenNew inventions (washing machines, electric stoves, water pumps) make domestic chores less burdensome. Professional opportunities increase in the wake of WWI. Previously all-male universities admit women. The "flapper" image becomes a powerful and popular symbol of the changing role of women.
Great MigrationJobs for African Americans in the South are scarce and low-paying. African Americans move to northern cities in search of better employment opportunities. African Americans face discrimination and violence in both the South and the North.
Harlem RenaissanceAfrican American artists, writers, and musicians based in Harlem reveal freshness and variety for the African American artistic culture. Painter Jacob Lawrence chronicles the experiences of the Great Migration north through art. Langston Hughes combines the experiences of African and American cultural roots in his writings. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong compose jazz classics. Economic hardships of the Great Depression and the Harlem Riot of 1935 bring an end to this time of cultural growth in the Harlem area of New York City.
Important Individuals of the 1920sThere were many important people who had a great impact on life in the United States in the early 1900s. From writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, to entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, the United States was filled with influential people. These people were important not only in America, but also throughout the world.
Louis ArmstrongLouis Armstrong was a famous jazz trumpet player, singer, and bandleader. He was a major influence on the development of jazz in the 1920s. He was known for his improvisation when he played. He organized several large jazz bands and appeared in Broadway shows, jazz festivals, and films.
William Jennings BryanWilliam Jennings Bryan was an American politician, orator, and lawyer. He was a three-time Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States and one of the most popular speakers in American history. He was called "The Great Commoner" because of his total faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people. In the 1920s, he was a strong supporter of Prohibition but is probably best known today for his crusade against Darwinism, which culminated in the Scopes Trial in 1925.
Clarence DarrowClarence Darrow was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He was best known for defending John T. Scopes in the so-called "Monkey" Trial in 1925, in which he opposed the statesman William Jennings Bryan. He also defended teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb in their 1924 trial for murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks.
William FaulknerWilliam Faulkner was an American novelist, film screenwriter, and poet whose works featured his native state of Mississippi. He is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature. Along with Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams, Faulkner is considered one of the most important "Southern writers."
F. Scott FitzgeraldFrancis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works are suggestive of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely thought of as one of the twentieth century's great writers. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I.
Henry FordHenry Ford created the Ford Motor Company in 1903. By creating the first moving assembly line, Ford was able to drastically reduce the amount of time it took to make a car. As a result, production of automobiles increased, and the price decreased. For the first time, average Americans could afford to buy automobiles.
Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Hemingway's unique writing style is characterized by economy and understatement. His writings had a significant influence on the development of twentieth-century fiction writing. Many of his works are now considered classics in American literature.
Langston HughesLangston Hughes was an African American poet. He was the central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement that brought about a new black cultural identity in the 1920s and 1930s through music, literature, and art. Hughes' poems use dialect and jazz rhythms and are mostly concerned with showing African American life in the city. His collections of poetry include Shakespeare in Harlem and OneWay Ticket.
Charles LindberghCharles Lindbergh is one of the most well-known aviators of the twentieth century. On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh made the first nonstop airplane flight from New York to Paris. He flew in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. It took him 33 1/2 hours to complete the flight.
Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein was an American writer who spent most of her life in France. She became a leader in the development of modern art and literature. Her judgments in literature and art were highly influential. She was also Ernest Hemingway's mentor.