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The First Truly Modern Decade:

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Elizabeth Gordon

on 1 October 2018

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Transcript of The First Truly Modern Decade:

The First Truly Modern Decade:
Life in the 1920s

What does it mean to be modern?
Modernity- most often refers to the move from farming cultures toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, and the nation-state.
Life before the 20s
+ Strong Sense of Morality
+ Strong Religious Presence
+ Strong Sense of Tradition
+ Strong Sense of Local Community
+ Traditional Roles Accepted
+ Belief and trust in parents,
government, and society
Automobiles , Telephones, Radio
Culture Clashes
The Second Industrial Revolution (Technical Revolution)
Based on mass production, the moving assembly line, and the marketing of consumer goods, the economy of the 1920s experienced phenomenal growth.
Assembly Line
-goods are quicker and cheaper to make -> Prices Drop!
From Farming to Factories
From Country Towns to City Life
From Religion controlling society to a separation between Church and State
From superstitions and folklore
to science and reason
May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll of the assembly line. The average cost of the Model T in the 1920s? $260, down from $850 in 1908. Buggy $86.70,
WWI: The War to End All Wars
TARGET: I can analyze how society changes and/or stays the same over a time period.
GUIDING QUESTION: How was change seen in 1920s America?

The 1920s was a period of economic growth. Mass production led to more free time and cheaper goods. The rich and middle class became richer and spent their money. Millions of regular people began investing in the stock market for the first time.
Before the 1920s, 80-90% of the average American's salary was spend on food and other necessities (Compare to the ~40% today). After the adoption of mass production, good were cheaper and things that were previously luxuries (cars, radio, toasters, etc.) were now easy to afford! Americans bought items like never before, and, in turn, bolstered the economy. In order to get Americans to buy things, advertisements were used. By 1929, 75% of the economy was dependent on consumer purchases. This "consumer economy" is still the majority (71%).
Prices of Goods
By the mid 20s, two-thirds of American homes had electricity opening up a whole new realm of things to buy. If you couldn't afford to buy things outright, you could buy on credit.
Sugar 5 lbs. 97¢ 1920
Sugar 5 lbs. 35¢ 1925
Automobiles used to be only for the rich, but Henry Ford's innovations in production made it affordable for many. By 1929, there was almost one car per family in America. With a car, families could run their errands faster leaving them more free time.
Radios were now being produced cheaply, within a few years the majority of homes had one.

New radio stations started which allowed listeners to keep up with national issues and experience new ideas.
People now had an easy connection to ideas and people outside of their community.
Although invented in the 1800s, telephone companies began putting telephones anywhere inside the home.

Dialing numbers became possible (no need to talk to an operator).

Long distance phone calls were possible.

The ability to easily call people from far away meant that people could move away from their families but still keep in touch.
After a long struggle, women gained the right to vote in 1920.
There was both greater discrimination and greater tolerance.
Scopes Trial
The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes
Scopes was accused of teaching evolution in schools. It was widely covered across the nation and seen as trial of modernity vs. tradition.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution ushered in an era of Prohibition, which outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol. Still, many Americans found ways to imbibe illegally. They went to speakeasies, private clubs that provided entertainment and liquor. Others bought illegal whiskey and beer from bootleggers. Popular movies and novels about the 1920s make it look like one big happy party of booze, jazz, and good times.

Yet very few people actually made gin in their bathtubs. While movies about the 1920s often depict excessive use of illegal alcohol, per capita consumption of alcohol actually dropped from 2.6 gallons per person pre-Prohibition in 1910 to less than a gallon per person post-Prohibition in 1934. The average family drank 1.7 liters of liquor a week before prohibition. Prohibition helped change America's drinking habits.
Youth Culture
"flappers" and "sheiks"
Magazines told kids how to dress and act and what trends to follow
Cars allowed greater privacy and movement. Kids could go visit friends away from their parents. Teens could now "date."
College was king. College students set trends that high school students tried to imitate. Then many parents tried to copy the kids, so they could feel young.
Magazines were becoming read by all. They told Americans how to live their lives and what to buy.
Automobiles were cheap.
Roads were built so that Americans could go places they never had before. People had greater freedom of movement, and more time on their hands.
With more money and time, Americans wanted to be entertained.
Music and Dance
Pop Music

People took an interest in music, they owned sheet music, played instruments, and bought records.
Top Artists of the 20s
People began flocking to watch sporting events and we had some of the first national sports stars.
The Movies
In the 1910s, actors in films were not given screen credit. In the 1920s they were. Soon "Stars" were born.
By 1929- Sound films were standard
The first films were silent.
Questions for as we read Gatsby:
How does the novel show these changes in American culture? How does the novel show conflict between rich/poor, men/women, classes, cultures, etc.? How does The Great Gatsby demonstrate what it meant to be modern?

First Inexpensive process for mass production of steel. Invented by a Pennsylvanian, but William Bessemer (English) patented it.

Soldiers came back feeling betrayed by their parents, society, and government (disillusionment). The huge death rates created a "eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die spirit." They wanted CHANGE.
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