The Roarin' 20's*


The Establishment of Football

August 20, 1920 Jim Thorpe and seven other men met up to organize a professional football league in Canton, Ohio. As a result the APFC (American Professional Football Conference) was created and would later become the National Football league. More free time and better transportation to attend local games which allowed individuals to develop a strong loyalty for athletics. Harry Stuhldreher, Jim Crowley, Don Miller, Elmer Layden did a lot to popularize this sport which allowed for it to grow more popular than any other sport during this time. Today football has become known by many as the nation's most popular sport.

Birth of a Mass Culture

Advertising and movies in the 1920s dramatically transformed the American lifestyle and mass culture. The U.S. economy became one based on consumerism and marketing, creating the increased need for efficient and captivating advertisements. Due to decreased working time and higher earnings, people had plentiful leisure time and extra money to spend; advertisers took advantage of this and directed Americans on what to buy and where to buy it. Additionally, in the 20th century, the United States was the leading producer of movies in the world. Silent films became a staple of the mass culture of America, and people came out every weekend to see the newest moving pictures. Because of the plethora of leisure time for most Americans, they turned to the theater as a main source of entertainment, and as a response to this, film makers sought to advance special effects and film technology. Movie stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow gained fame and became lifestyle models for adults and children alike. Ultimately, the consumerism culture of America was heavily influenced by the introduction of mass-media advertisements and improvements in moviemaking.

Culture Civil War

The advancement of technology throughout the early 20th century produced a profound amount of effects to the people of America. The advent of cars and popularity of radio all allowed the average civilian to become closer to others much easier. This also allowed for those to do what they want when they want. Much of their entertainment was now portable, and if it wasn’t, it was a quick drive to get to it. During WW1, women and minorities got a taste of what it was like to live the American dream. They could work where they wanted, wages were raised, and the war ended in a “victory”. Once they taste freedom, you cannot quench the thirst. This is a major factor for the pseudonym of this time called the Jazz Age. It was the time when the younger generations and women along with minorities rebelled against the taboo of the time. A form of music that represented the time so well was of course Jazz. Relating to almost nothing of popular music at the time, Jazz was as rebellious of a genre as Rock was in the 50s. Fortunately, though, Jazz was incorporated into the “high-culture” of society and today is respected. Still, the Jazz Age along with the Harlem Renaissance catalyzed an explosion of new culture of all sectors to the masses. To try and combat this, presidential candidate Warren G. Harding spoke of a “Return to Normalcy” which sparked a public divide. His plan was to return to the ways before WW1, which the younger generation had not experienced. Not wanting to go back to the ways the thought of as boring, a “civil war” had started, splitting the young from the old.

Economic Status

The 1920s were a time of increased industrial output where film, radio, automobile and chemical industry industries skyrocketed. Consumerism was at an all time high as innovations such as the Assembly line allowed for mass production which allowed for the cost of automobiles to be affordable. Radio was now the first mass broadcasting medium and was vastly used for advertising and entertainment. With increased consumerism and and industrial success came a downfall. Following the war individuals began losing jobs, production went down and the crash of Wall Street in 1929 occurred, leading to the economic downturn of the U.S. economy.

Final Response

In the 1920s, advancements in transportation and communication helped spread people and ideas but also made the American community become increasingly close-knit in the face of numerous foreign and domestic issues. Because of the new assembly line production created by Henry Ford, automobiles could be created more efficiently and sell for cheaper prices. This change in transportation technology made it possible for middle-class families to afford automobiles for the first time, creating an increased ability for the average American to travel farther distances in shorter time spans. The newly-increased mobility made it possible for people to spend more time doing leisure activities such as watching films and shopping, serving as an escape from the many problems plaguing America at the time such as cultural conflicts, world wars, and economic distress. Additionally, new innovations in communication such as the radio and telephone created a network of interconnectedness, advancing the mass media and popular culture of the time; the advanced methods of communication made it possible for widespread advertising and furthered the consumer culture. After the war, however, this newfound freedom was not accepted well by some. A large part of the older community resented the changes the young were adopting. Attempting to “Return to Normalcy”, they wanted to revert culture back to how it was before the war. Along with this, the end of the war meant the end for demand. Factories that had produced war arms no longer needed production to be so high. Along with this came layoffs, with veterans losing all ties to the government and women and minorities forced to return to lower paying jobs.


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