The Jazz Age 1920-1929

The Jazz Age
Section 1: Boom Times
Section 2: Life in the Twenties
Section 3: A Creative Era
Section 1: Boom Times
 Prosperity and Productivity
 GNP = $70 billion in 1922 and $100 million in 1929
 Investments grew
 Business expansion led to wage increases
 Electricity becomes common in American homes, by
1930 2/3 of homes have electricity
 Mixers, food grinders, sewing machines, washing
machines, radio and phonographs
 Scientific management – Frederick W. Taylor- based on
the idea that every kind of work could be broken down
into a series of smaller tasks
 “Time-and-Motion” studies identified these tasks
 “Efficiency” experts
 The Growth of the Automobile Industry
 Henry Ford
 Model T “Tin Lizzy”
 Assembly line at Detroit factory – cut production
time in half, reduced prices, $850 in 1909 to $290
Brought them to the average American
 Average 1 car for every 5 citizens
 Became largest business
 Consuming: glass, rubber, steel, etc
 By 1929 over 1 million people worked in auto industry or
a related industry
 Changes in work
 Ford and his workers
 Shortened workday (8 hours)
 Raised wages ($5 per day due to tedium)
 Regulated morality and personal behavior of workers
 Opposed tobacco use, alcohol use, American values
stressed, Recommended workers move from ethnic
neighborhoods, learn to read and write English
 Impact of new products
 Electric appliances
 Less domestic help
A Land of Automobiles
 Trains & Trolley Cars lose riders
 Almost completely replaced horse-drawn vehicles
 400,000 miles of new roads built in 1920s
 Billboards, drive-in restaurants, filling stations, tourist
cabins start to appear
 Suburbs
 Auto-tourism- allowed Americans to travel without
restrictions of schedules or routes of trains.
 Family life
 New social opportunities for teens
 Critics claimed it caused a loss of community
 Also brought pollution, traffic jams, parking problems,
accident rates soared
 Creating Consumers
 Alfred P. Sloan- head of General Motors
 Marketing
 Installment plans – “buy it on time” –kitchen
appliances, pianos, sewing machines, cars
 Streamlined
look – used for planes, ships, cars, etc…
started doing it for other things like radios, clocks, and
 Up-to-date models continued to arrive
 GM introduced yearly model change and the trade-in,
getting people to get a new car each year
 Department of Labor reported women were going
into debt trying to keep up with fashion!
 Advertising
 Big business in 1920s
 1929 $3 million spent on advertising alone – in
magazines, newspapers, billboards, radio spots
 Targeted women, used slogans, jingles and celebrities
 A growing retail industry
 Chain stores- A&P grocery chain
 Quick freezing techniques
 cellophane
Section 2: Life in the Twenties
 Prohibition
 Eighteenth Amendment
 Ban on manufacture, sale, transportation of
alcoholic beverages
 Volstead Act created to enforce amendment
 Some places strictly enforced, some not so much
 Al Capone and the Chicago mob
 violence against other mobs/gangs
 St. Valentine’s Day 1929 – his mob killed 7 of a
rival gang
 Speakeasies, clubs, bars, bootleg, smuggling
 Enter Eliot Ness and the Federal Prohibition Bureau
 Strict enforcement of prohibition laws
 “Untouchables” and Ness arrested Capone on
tax evasion charges, during prison time lost
control of his gang
 Positives of Prohibition
 Alcoholism, alcohol related deaths declined
 Negatives of Prohibition – more press
 Widespread breakdown of law and order
 Turned millions of law abiding citizens into
 Repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933
 Youth Culture
 The “new woman”
 Flappers: Stylish, adventurous, independent,
 Changed their dress = Goodbye corsets… hello
shorter skirts and silk hose!
 Cut hair into bobbed styles
 Drove cars, sought economic independence
 Participated in sports
 College life
 1900-1930 college enrollment tripled
 Middle and upper classes
 “collegiate look” = baggy flannel slacks
& sports
 Leisure fun and fads
 Dance marathons
 Dance Derby of the Century = 482 hours!
(nearly 3 weeks) in 1928
 Beauty Contests
 Miss America- 1921
 Flag pole sitting
 Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, most famous
 Mass entertainment
 Radio
 Broadcasted church services, local news reports,
music, sports events
 Dempsey- Carpenter heavyweight title fight
 World Series
 Advertising spots for sale “sponsors”
 Movies
 Cecil B. DeMille
 Biblical epic plots, complex characters
 Why Change Your Wife (1920)
 Forbidden Fruit (1921)
 The Ten Commandments (1923)
 Actors – silent films
 Lon Chaney (horror/scary)
 Charlie Chaplin (comedy)
 Tom Mix (westerns)
 1927 “Talkies”
 The Jazz Singer (1st one) 1927- starred Al Jolson
 The Sheik – Rudolph Valentino (married in Crown
Point)- created controversy. People demanded
regulations on films.
 Professional sports
 College/professional football
 Red Grange played his first professional
the Chicago Bears Thanksgiving 1925
game for
“Black Sox” Scandal
Legends: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig
Books and magazines
Book-of-the-month club founded 1923
Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox
players accused of taking a bribe to throw the World Series
game in 1919
Cartoons, short stories, advertising pages
Dewitt and Lila Wallace found Reader’s Digest in 1921
Celebrities and Heroes
Young people copied the celebrities behaviors
A Woman of Affairs, starring Greta Garbo, she wore a slouch
hat… became the “in” thing
“Sultan of Swat” = Babe Ruth
Jim Thorpe, won both the pentathlon and decathlon in the
1912 Olympics, went on to play baseball and football
Amelia Earhart- first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean
 Religion
in the 1920s
 Revivalism
 Evils of popular entertainment and alcohol
 Aimee Semple McPherson
 Movie star image: white dress, white shoes, blue
 International Church of the Foursquare Gospel,
headquartered in Los Angeles
 Dramatic religious services- combined orchestra,
chorus, stage sets
 Closely tied with Pentecostalism
 Fundamentalism
 Protestant movement
 Traditional Christian doctrine to be followed without
 Bible was a literal translation
 Christian “liberals” were attacked, the ones who
believed in science, evolution
 Evangelical spread fundamentalism “old-time” religion
 The
Scopes Trial- July 1925
 Tennessee
legislature outlawed “Darwinism” in
public schools
American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend a school
teacher, John Scopes, a science teacher
 Defense attorney, Clarence Darrow
 Prosecution witness… William Jennings Bryan… 3
time democratic presidential hopeful
Trial exposed the deep divide in American society
between traditional religious values and new ones based
on scientific thought and theory
 Darrow attacked the law as impeding free expression
 Bryan admitted his belief that bible was literal, forced
Bryan to admit inconsistencies in his interpretation of
the scriptures
 Darrow failed to convince the jury. Snopes was found
guilty and fined $100
 Showed to some a narrow mindedness in some
fundamentalists like Bryan and lowered some
American’s views of fundamentalism
Section 3: The Creative Era
 Music
 The Emergence of Jazz
 Charles “Buddy” Bolden
 Blues mix of slave music and spirituals
 Mamie Smith
 Gertrude “Ma” Rainey
 Bessie Smith
 Louis Armstrong
 Jazz Moves North
 Chicago and New York
 Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton – Chicago formed a band
called the Red Hot Peppers, “Jelly Roll Blues”
 Joseph “King” Oliver, Creole Jazz Band, Louis
Armstrong joined his band in 1922, “Mabel’s Dream”
and “Froggie Moore”
 1924 Louis Armstrong goes solo “When the Saint Go
The popularization of jazz
Bix Beiderbecke, cornetist and pianist, put jazz rhythms in his
George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
Igor Stravinsky
Aaron Copeland
Big Band music, dance music
Harlem’s Cotton Club
Duke Ellington
 Ethel Waters
 Cab Calloway
Many clubs were “white” only with black entertainers, even
when the clubs were in black neighborhoods
Langston Hughes “Why should I want to be white? I am a
negro – and beautiful”
Josephine Baker and others traveled and spread jazz to other
places, such as Paris which had its own Jazz Age
 The
Harlem Renaissance
 Theater
Paul Robeson, Emperor Jones
 Son of a former slave
 Graduate from Rutgers and Columbia Law
 Singer “Ol’ Man River”, from Showboat
 First African American actor to play a leading role
opposite a white actress
Rose McClendon, Deep River
In Abraham’s Bosom
 Porgy, she appeared in the first production
 Literature
Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928)
Claude McKay, Home to Harlem
James Weldon Johnson, educator, lawyer, diplomat to
Venezuela and Nicaragua, office of the NAACP
 Poetry: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” became a song
 Autobiography
of an Ex-Colored Man (1912)
 The Book of American Negro Poetry
 Executive
secretary of NAACP, raised money to support
African American artists and art programs in Harlem
 The Lost Generation
 Scorned middle-class consumerism and superficiality of post
war years
 “lost generation” was coined by Gertrude Stein in reference
to Ernest Hemingway and others
 Stories of disillusionment
 Ernest Hemingway
 A Farewell to Arms – devastation of war
 F. Scott Fitzgerald
 The Great Gatsby –emptiness of the pursuit of social
status and money
 Married Zelda Sayre, her mental illness and his
alcoholism cut short their glamorous lifestyle when
his creativity dried up due to the pressures
 Criticizing
the middle class
 Sinclair Lewis
 Main Street (1920) satire of close-mindedness
of a typical small Midwestern town
 Babbitt (1922), story of middle aged realtor and
city booster who hates his life but is too
cowardly to change
 H.I. Mencken, wrote in The American Mercury, he
promoted writers who satirized middle America or
“booboisie”, made fun of Republican politicians,
Fundamentalist Christians, rural southerners, people
who lived in small towns, and others
 The Visual Arts
 Painting and Photography
 Georgia O’Keefe – NY factories and tenements
 Alfred Stieglitz – photos of people, airplanes,
skyscrapers, crowded city streets
 Mexican influence
 Jose Clemente Orozco
 Diego Rivera
 Detroit Institute of Art
 Wife, Frida Kahlo
 Rockefeller Center mural was destroyed by the
sponsors because it featured Lenin
 David Alfaro Siqueiros
 Architecture
 Louis Sullivan
 Frank Lloyd Wright
 Empire State Building (1250 feet) in 1931 – tallest
building in the world until 1954.
 Chrysler Building (1048 feet) in 1930
-End notes-
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