Hansen
U.S. History
1950s Unit- Study Guide
Economic Aftermath of World War II
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Know that after WWII, Americans had money saved up due to rationing and work in war
industries  leading to a rise in post-war spending and an economic boom
Americans were eager to buy after the Great Depression and wartime rationing
Factories were more efficient, in part because of wartime technological advances
Growth of white collar jobs, rather than blue collar jobs
Growth of service sector jobs (what is the service sector?)
Renewed Possibilities for the American Dream
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Baby Boom
GI Bill
Suburbia/Levittowns
Car culture
‘golden age’ of the teenager (Why? How?)
Dark side of the American dream  decaying inner cities, declining public transportation,
minority groups not included
50s Politics
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Truman
o Democrat
o Fair Deal
o Banned discrimination in federal hiring
o Republicans seek to break the Democratic deadlock on the presidency
 22nd Amendment  two terms max for prez
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Eisenhower/Ike
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Republican
What was his previous claim to fame?
What modern Republican policies did he follow?
NASA
National Defense Education Act
 Connection to ‘Sputnik Moment’?
The Cold War (a considerable amount of this info comes from the Cold War Background
Reading on my web page- another large amount comes from the textbook pages assigned
for the Early Cold War Timeline)
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What was it? Why? Who was involved?
What are the basic political and economic systems between the societies of the United States and
that of the USSR (aka Russia, aka the Soviet Union)?
Nuclear arms race, NATO, containment, spheres of influence, the iron curtain, Churchill,
Stalin, ‘free world’ versus ‘Soviet bloc’, the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA),
the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, demilitarized zone (DMZ), the
Warsaw Pact
The Truman Doctrine aimed to help Turkey and Greece and the Marshall Plan aimed to help the
rest of Europe
o What was special about Turkey and Greece in the late 1940s?
Although the United Nations was set up to maintain world peace, the Soviets and U.S. used it for
different purposes. How did they use it?
Know the division of German land at the Yalta Conference and understand how this set the stage
for the Berlin Airlift
The Second Red Scare
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What and when was the First Red Scare?
Who was Alger Hiss and why is he significant?
Who was Senator Joseph McCarthy? What did he do? In what sense were his actions
‘Witch Hunts’?
What events increased American hysteria?  Alger Hiss, soviets get the A-Bomb,
China falls to Communism under Mao Zedong (Chiang Kai Shek is forced to flee the
country) , the Rosenbergs, Korean War
How is communism’s adherence to atheism relevant for an understanding of the 2nd Red
Scare?
What elements of Communism make it so terrifying to the leaders of most world nations?
Truman’s Loyalty Boards, Whittaker Chambers, HUAC, Pumpkin Papers, Klaus
Fuchs, McCarthy Army Hearing,
Sputnik’s relevance?
The Korean War
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Who owned Korea during and prior to World War II? How was Korea divided at the end
of World War II? Who got what? Why?
Although the Soviets and Americans eventually left, they only sort of left in 1949.
Explain. How would this contribute to later tensions? Why is China’s impact on Korea so
huge and why is this impact different after 1949?
Which side (Northern or southern Koreans launched the first attack?
What international organization officially ordered troops to fight in Korea against the
Communist forces?
Did U.N./U.S. troops support North or South Korea during the war?
What happened to the course of the fighting immediately after U.N. troops landed in
Korea?
After winning back South Korea, the American general, named ___________, pushed
troops on towards China.
 Why did he advise that this would work out ok for the U.S.?
 How did the Chinese call his bluff?
What argument did Truman and MacArthur have after the Chinese attack on American
troops? Which of the two sides ‘won’ the fight? What is the proof?
What is the final (current) status of Korea today?
Civil Rights in the 50s
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African-Americans
o Continued discrimination in almost all arenas- housing, public facilities, wages, etc.
o Plessy v Ferguson’s “Separate But Equal” replaced in the 50s by Brown v Board of
Education, in which the Supreme Court rejected legal segregation
o Early Civil Rights movement led by black church leaders (e.g. Martin Luther King)
Chinese-Americans
o Americans who were seen to be foreign by most white Americans, like ChineseAmericans, were seen as suspicious during the Red Scare
o Increasing number of educated Chinese and women as many sought to escape the
Communist takeover in China
o Children of these Chinese immigrants were caught in between the older ‘communal’
culture of their parents and the newer ‘individualistic’ culture of America
Japanese Americans
o Hatred left over from World War II lingered
o Most Japanese did not get back land they had lost when sent to internment camps during
WWII
o Similarly to Chinese, children of were caught in between the older ‘communal’ culture of
their parents (1st generation Japanese Americans were known as Issei) and the newer
‘individualistic’ culture of America (second generation were known as Nissei)
Mexican Americans
o How did the Spanish American War increase the number of Mexican Americans?
o What are barrios and what were braceros/the brocero program?
o What was Operation Wetback?
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Native Americans
o What was the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934? When the U.S. terminated this act in
the 1950s and left Indian affairs up to individual states, was this a positive or a negative
for Indians?
Women
o Know that tension existed when women were asked to leave their WWII jobs and return
to being housewives. Know that the media did a great deal to reinforce this image of
women.
o Rates of women attending college dropped after WWII
o Why did so many women seek therapy in the 1950s?
o Towards the end of the 1950s, the number of households with two working parents
started to grow
Popular Culture in the 50s
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Music
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What is conformity? Is this represented by Sinatra or Elvis in the 1950s?
Understand the racial component of early Rock and Roll and why it is important to be
able to link this to Brown Versus the Board of Education.
Why was Elvis’ pelvis important? How did conservative networks deal with his pelvis?
How does the song ‘Yakkity Yak’ demonstrate both the rebelliousness of the 1950s but
also the limited nature of this rebellion?
What is the contrast between the performing styles of Frank Sinatra and Elvis? Why
relevant? What were the expected attributes of teens to conform to in the 1950s? What
marks of non-conformity started to show themselves towards the end of the decade?
TV
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Know that large numbers of Americans had TVs for the first time.
Know that the number of networks (and thus choices of what to watch) were extremely
limited
Know what types of shows were most common in the 1950s
Understand the basic portrayals of women and minorities on TV in the 1950s and also the
pressure put on real people of living up to the ‘real life’ shown on TV
 What were some of the key differences between the television world and the real
world?
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Hansen U.S. History 1950s Unit- Study Guide Economic Aftermath of