The Roaring 20's

Paige Lauro, Cameron Gaither, Payton Conway, Anna Wakefield

Fads of the Future: Pole Sitting

Flagpole sitting was a fad that resurfaced in the 1920’s due to an excess of free time. Bored people would find a nice, uncomfortable pole or other tall, thin structure and then sit upon it for long periods of time as a test of endurance. This strange trend began when famous actor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly was dared to sit on a flagpole. Kelly took the dare with gusto, and spent the next 13 hours and 13 minutes atop the nearest flag-holding structure. This historic event set off a five-year pole sitting frenzy as hundreds of imitators sought fame and fortune via sitting aloft on a large metal strut. The record by the end of this period was 51 days.

The Birth of Mass Culture

The Birth of Mass Culture in the 1920’s refers to the boom in consumer goods becoming more affordable to the common man. Because of the economic boom, luxurious goods became available to normal everyday people. This sparked a change socially and economically. Two of the most important items were radios and automobiles.

Over 10 million families in the 1920’s owned a radio and tuned in to the same station. The radio had the power to make someone or something famous overnight. It also brought American middle class families and neighbors together by allowing them to listen to the president, sporting events, and church speakers at the same time. Aside from those things, the radio was used in rural areas to communicate weather reports. The radio made many Americans feel “connected” to what was going on in their country. No matter where they were in the country, the radio caused an interconnectedness and a sense of nationalism among all Americans.

The automobile was also a prominent figure the development of Mass Culture. For the first time, middle class people could now travel where they wanted when they wanted. This brought a interconnectedness to the American people because they could now go on more outings without needing a horse. Many people could now live in suburbs and work in the city because they now has transportation. It also contributed to the rise of consumerism because people could now go to stores they favored even if they weren't necessarily close. The automobile market also created smaller markets for automobile associated products.

Cultural Civil War


- the quality or condition of being normal, as the general economic, political, and social conditions of a nation

After the dominating personalities of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Americans craved a more "normal" leader for their changing nation. Through the election of Warren Harding, they received just that. His impacts on the United States through a limited conservative vision of the government include...

  • push for lower taxes and less regulation
  • repudiation of Wilsonian reform

The Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance:

In the Roaring 20's, African Americans continued their migration north to cities and factories in order to find jobs. Along the way, they faced prejudices and a need to deal with secondary status. Through this, a new method of coping, Jazz Music, made its first appearance as the first true American art form.

Alain Locke is the "Father of the Harlem Renaissance", a movement representing the outpour of African American culture and entrepreneurship. Harlem became a sort of Mecca where African Americans were allowed to embrace their heritage.

  • Langston Hughes - wrote novels, short stories, poems, and plays expressing his frustration regarding the plight of African Americans and searching for their acceptance in the American society as a whole
  • Rudolph Fisher - wrote book called Walls of Jericho presenting a cross-section of African American work and life in Harlem

Economic Status

  • How did the mass culture stimulate the economy during the 1920s? A greater transportation system helped to build a consumer demand for a multitude of car oriented products. As new products of all sorts were made in the 20’s, demands arose for other associated products, and the products themselves. All this demand led to more jobs in the factories that produced these products. The higher wages pushed for by labor group led to the workers being able to buy more commercial products. Mass culture things like radio led to new markets being created for things like advertising and propaganda. Therefore even more jobs were created.

  • What areas of the culture led to the downturn of the economic stability of the US in the 1920s? After World War I veterans gradually came back to the states. This was a cultural phenomena that directly led to an oversaturation of the job market. Not only were there an increasing lack of jobs, but citizens started buying products with credit based on speculation. This use of credit was spurred greatly by the rise of consumerist mass culture in America. The use of credit the cause inflation, and subsequently contributed to the crash of the market because when payment time came people couldn’t pay. A similar practice used was speculation which also caused inflation. it also helped to ruin the market because when payment time came people couldn't pay. This then led to people wanting their money from the banks, and the subsequent crash of the banks. So in summary, the mass consumer culture caused people to buy products with money they didn't have, and to speculate of deals, and investments that were not legitimate.


The roaring twenties was a time of rapid technological innovation in which advancements in communication, such as the radio, and transportation, such as the mass-produced car, made an era of prosperity possible. Thanks to the more interconnected culture of the twenties and the high levels of prosperity, information and the devices needed to facilitate it were widespread and available. This created a “mass culture” that large amounts of people were able to participate in.The roaring twenties were also a time for the emergence of new traditions, like Jazz music, a result of a heightened cultural presence for African Americans who felt misrepresented and secondary to whites. Innovations such as the radio would’ve helped spread the the newest true American tradition.