Ch. 13: Postwar Social Change
1920-1929
Section 1: Society in the 1920s
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The 1920s marked a period of rapid social
change in the United States. Many changes
challenged cultural norms and values of the day.
Women’s Changing Roles
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Many of the changes in
the era revolved around
women.
During WWI, many
women entered the work
force.
The Nineteenth
Amendment, adopted in
1920, granted women the
right to vote.
Flappers
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A new type of young women: rebellious, energetic, bold, fun-loving,
and risqué were known as flappers.
Flappers began wearing shorter hair, shorter dresses, and heavy
makeup.
Flappers challenged traditional values, with new styles of dress and
dancing. Some drank alcohol or smoked in public.
Flappers
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Flappers offended many people.
The New York Times wrote in
July 1920, “the American
woman… has lifted her skirts far
beyond any modest limitation.”
Between 1913 and 1928, the
average amount of fabric used to
make a woman’s outfit went
from 19.5 yards to 7 yards.
Women Working and Voting
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Increasingly, women entered the work force.
Most working women were young and single, but by
1930, 29% of all working women were married.
Businesses remained prejudiced against women seeking
professional jobs.
Women Voting
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As of 1920, women could vote in all elections.
Early on, most women either did not exercise their right to vote or
voted in patterns similar to men.
As the 1920s progressed, more women began to vote.
Jeannette Rankin of Montana won election to the U.S. House of
Representatives. Became first women elected to Congress.
Americans on the Move
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The 1920s magnified the gap between rural and urban
society.
The industrial economy of the city thrived during the 20s.
6 million people moved from rural to urban areas.
Urban Migration
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Education increased in urban settings
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In 1920 there were 2.2 million high school students,
in 1930 there were 4.4 million.
Youth in rural areas were needed for farm labor,
urban youth were more free to attend school into
their teenage years.
Rural and urban America were divided on
cultural issues.

Many rural Americans viewed the cultural changes
occurring in cities as immoral, dangerous, or corrupt.
African American “Great Migration”
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Many African Americans
moved from the South to
northern cities, the
“Great Migration.”
2 million African
Americans moved to
northern cities from
1910-1930.
Played a significant role
in the cultural changes
occurring in urban areas.
Growth of the Suburbs
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As cities grew and
transportation improved,
many Americans began to
move into the suburbs.
Trolleys were replaced by
buses in many areas and
automobiles became more
affordable.
Example: in NYC,
Manhattan’s population
decreased, but the suburb
of Queens’ population
doubled.
Charles Lindbergh
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Charles Lindbergh was among several of the idolized
heroes of the 1920s.
In 1927, Lindbergh became the first person to fly nonstop
from New York to Paris.
Praised not only for his flying achievements but his steady,
down-to-earth character.
Amelia Earhart
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In 1932, Amelia Earhart
became the first woman
to fly solo across the
Atlantic.
She set other aviation
records, including a solo
flight from Hawaii to
California.
In 1937, while attempting
to fly around the world,
she went missing after
completing 2/3 of the
trip.
Sports Heroes
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Spectator Sports greatly increased in popularity in the
1920s.
Heavy commercialization increased both the audience and
revenue of athletics, turning sports into big business.
Jack Dempsey
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Famous boxer, Jack Dempsey, beat Georges Carpentier
in 1921 to become the world heavyweight champion.
The fight broke the record for ticket sales, earning $1
million.
Dempsey became popular around the country.
Jim Thorpe
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Jim Thorpe was and
Olympic gold medalist in
the decathlon and
pentathlon.
He played professional
baseball and went on to be
a professional football star
in the 1920s.
An American Indian
George Herman “Babe” Ruth
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Most famous of all athletes during the 1920s, and
possibly all U.S. History, was “Babe” Ruth.
Ruth hit 714 career home runs, a record unbroken for 40
years.
Beyond achievements, Ruth was famous for his bold,
charismatic personality.
Women in Sports
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People from all aspects of life
began to participate in sports,
including women.
Hazel Wightman and Helen
Wills were Olympic and
Wimbledon tennis stars.
Gertrude Ederle was an
Olympic freestyle swimming
champion.

In 1926, Ederle became the first
woman to swim across the
English Channel, 35 miles long.
Section 2: Mass Media and Jazz
Age
1920s were greatly shaped by the introduction of
mass media and the Jazz Age
Mass Media
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New and improved methods of film, print, and
broadcasting created the birth of mass media,
communication with large audiences.
Film and radio broadcasting became more popular during
the era.
Movies
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Between 1910 to 1930 the
number of movie theaters
rose from 5,000 to 22,500.
Moviemaking became the
fourth largest business in
the country by 1929.
Hollywood became
moviemaking capital of
America.
Early movies were silent,
The Jazz Singer becomes
the first successful sound
film, a “talkie”.
Newspapers and Magazines
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Newspaper print and circulation roughly
doubled between 1914 and 1927.
Profits, not quality, drove newspaper
publishers.
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Tabloids, papers with large headlines,
few words and many pictures, became
popular.
William Randolph Hearst said he wanted
90% entertainment, 10% information.
Magazines also rose in popularity
 Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s
Digest, and Time
Radio
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In 1920, engineer Frank Conrad set up a radio transmitter in his
garage and began sending recorded music and baseball scores over
the radio.
Response was so positive it became the first commercial radio
station, Pittsburgh KDKA.
By 1922, there were more than 500 stations on the air.
The Jazz Age
“(Jazz was) an expression of the times, of the breathless, energetic,
superactive times in which we are living.”
-Leopold Stokowski
“Jazz objectifies America… a group of people can come together and
create art, improvised art, and can negotiate their agendas with
each other.”
-Wynton Marsalis
Jazz Arrives
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Jazz music grew out of African American music of the
South, a mixture of ragtime and blues.
Jazz becomes a nationwide craze.
Young people loved dancing to jazz music, causing
some opposition to the new sound.
The 1920s is sometimes referred to as the Jazz Age
Jazz Clubs and Dance Halls
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Harlem becomes a popular
Jazz area, with roughly 500
jazz clubs.
Many upscale clubs were
attended primarily by wealthy
whites, but the jazz was
played almost exclusively by
African Americans.
Most popular of jazz dance
forms was “the Charleston”, a
wild, reckless dance full of
kicks and twists and pivots.
Louis Armstrong
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Most important and
influential figure in Jazz
history.
Grew up in New Orleans,
where he learned to sing
and play trumpet.
His skill, improvisation,
showmanship, and new
“scat” singing made him a
huge hit.
“Duke” Ellington
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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington performed in NYC.
“Duke” was a pianist, band leader, an arranger, and a
composer.
Wrote over a thousand pieces in his career.
The Jazz Spirit
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Jazz spirit ran through all the arts of the
1920s.
People spoke of “jazz poetry” or “jazz
painting”.
More than a genre of music, “jazz”
became an identity and characteristic.
Painting

Georgia O’Keeffe painted naturalistic scenes like
flowers, landscapes, and oceans.
Literature
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Sinclair Lewis- attacked American
society through his writings.

“savorless people, gulping tasteless food,
and sitting afterward, coatless and
thoughtless, in rocking-chairs prickly with
inane decorations, listening to
mechanical music, saying mechanical
things about the excellence of Ford
automobiles, and viewing themselves as
the greatest race in the world.”
–Sinclair Lewis, Main Street (1920)

Eugene O’Neill- play writer; wrote
dark, poetic tragedies.
The Lost Generation
Right: Hemingway
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Many writers found postwar America materialistic, and unintellectual.
These writers and artists left the U.S. for Europe, many in Paris,
France, where they produced many of their classics.
Coined a “Lost Generation” of writers, the group included E.E.
Cummings, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Harlem Renaissance
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Harlem, NYC served not just
as a center for jazz music,
but also gave birth to an
African American literary,
artistic, and cultural
awakening.
This movement was called
the Harlem Renaissance.
Renaissance is French for
rebirth.
Langston Hughes
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Most famous of these African American writers was
poet Langston Hughes.
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Section 3: Cultural Conflicts

A period of rapid cultural change, the
1920s often sparked significant conflict
between people with different values,
morals, and beliefs.
Prohibition
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In 1920, the 18th Amendment, a
prohibition of the production and
consumption of alcohol, took
effect.
Prohibitionists sought to…
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Eliminate drunkenness and abuse
Get rid of salons, where gambling
and prostitution also thrived
Prevent absenteeism and on-the-job
accidents stemming from
drunkenness
Prohibition
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Despite the new
Amendment, the prohibition
was largely ignored.
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Even President Harding continued
to drink alcohol.
Accentuated the contrast
between rural and urban
moral values.
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95% of Kansans obeyed the law
5% of New Yorkers obeyed the
law
Bootlegging
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Bootleggers was the name given to those who produced
and/or supplied alcohol illegally.
Speakeasies were bars that operated illegally.
Speakeasies thrived in the cities
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The state of Massachusetts has 1,000 salons before the
prohibition, but had 4,000 speakeasies in Boston alone during it.
Organized Crime
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Bootlegging operations led to other
forms of illegal activity, gambling,
prostitution, and racketeering
(bribing police and government to
ignore illegal activities)
Al Capone- the most notorious of
these new gangsters wielded
enormous power.
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Operating in Chicago, Capone made
$60 million a year from bootlegging
alone.
Finally was convicted of income-tax
evasion and sent to prison in 1931.
Religious Fundamentalism
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Many religious Americans
were concerned about
modern society’s questioning
of scriptural accuracy.
Published 12 pamphlets called
The Fundamentals, and soon
became known as religious
fundamentalists.

Major belief being the inerrancy of
scripture
Evolution and the Scopes Trial
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Fundamentalists denounced evolutionary theory.
Tennessee banned teaching evolution in schools.
John T. Scopes, a science teacher, taught evolution
anyway and was arrested, his highly publicized trial is
remembered as the Scopes Trial.
Scopes Trial
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William Jennings Bryan, a
fundamentalist, volunteered
to prosecute Scopes.
Clarence Darrow was the
defendant.
Scopes was found guilty but
the case highlighted a very
distinct national clash of
values, pitting science
against faith.
Racial Conflict: Revival of the Klan
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During Reconstruction, the Ku
Klux Klan was virtually wiped out.
In 1915, a Methodist preacher
from Atlanta revived the
organization.
By 1922, Klan membership had
grown to 100,000, in 1924, it had
grown to 4 million.
The “new” KKK hated not just
African Americans, but any “unAmerican” groups: Jews,
Catholics, and immigrants.
Marcus Garvey
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Marcus Garvey was born in
Jamaica and moved to NYC in
1916.
Garvey founded the Universal
Negro Improvement Association
(UNIA).
Promoted black self-pride and
power, helped set up blackowned businesses.
Started a “back to Africa”
movement, encouraged blacks to
return to Africa to create a selfgoverning nation.
Garvey’s Movement
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Garvey was not embraced by all
African Americans, including
W.E.B. Du Bois who disagreed
with Garvey’s call for a separation
of races.
Garvey collected $10 million for a
steamship company to take his
followers back to Africa.
Corruption and mismanagement
ended the shipping line and
placed Garvey in prison for mail
fraud in 1925.