The Roaring 20's

Judy Xu, Caitlyn Sharrock, Nelson Lee, Farzin Amiri

An examination of social, political, and economic change.

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Hero: Babe Ruth

  • Major League Baseball player

  • born as George Herman Ruth

  • began as very talented Boston Red Sox pitcher

  • career peaked as outfielder for New York Yankees

  • set batting record for career home runs at 714

  • became an American sports hero: regarded as “greatest baseball player of all time”

  • helped Yankees win 3 World Series

  • Yankees never made it to World Series before Ruth was traded to them by Boston Red Sox

  • Yankees became first team to attract 1 million fans to stadium game thanks to Ruth

  • Yankee Stadium opened 1923, known as “The House that Ruth Built”

  • 1930, made $80,000 a year while President Herbert Hoover made only $75,000

Babe Ruth became the face of American baseball throughout the 1920’s, gaining massive popularity with his record-setting plays and carrying his team to the World Series for the first time. His fame attracted many new fans to the sport as well as made him the subject of much media attention (Kardashian levels of coverage) for such things as being a drunk womanizer off-field. His impressive performance on the field made him an American sports hero to the people of America. His face and name adorned hundreds of merchandise ranging from simple baseball cards to actual balls from his games. “Babe Ruth” became a household name for baseball, similar to how Michael Jordan represents the NBA now.

Birth of a Mass Culture

  • Starting in the 1920’s, America saw the “Birth of a Mass Culture.” Two of the biggest factors of this were the mass production of the radio and the automobile. Both the radio and car had been around for awhile, but with lower prices, this was the beginning of them being possessions of the common man.
  • Within the decade, over 12 million Americans had a radio in their home. Now, Americans all across the nation could simultaneously find out about events that occurred thousands of miles away; or listen to the same music as people in different states. Also, they could hear the voices of ones who are suffering, and feel similar emotions. Radio could communicate feelings in a way that newspaper couldn't. Also, radio was not limited. Newspaper was only a resource to literate people, while radio could be heard by almost anyone.
  • As Ford lowered its price of automobiles to a cost that many Americans could afford, cars almost became a necessity. With cars, Americans gained much more freedom and mobility. Now, Americans could go wherever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to, for however long they wanted to.

Cultural Civil War: The Impact of the New Woman and the Jazz Age on America

New Woman

  • Women were able to obtain white collar jobs and economic independence. This new
  • Washing machines and other household appliances eliminated heavy household work that often burdened women.
  • Bobbed hair and short skirts changed the image of a "lady".
  • 19th amendment allowed women to vote, which gave them more voice in government and more equality in relation to men.
  • These changes caused tensions between people who wanted to keep the status quo and the domestic women and others who embraced the change.
Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance

  • New music in the form of jazz and the blues were produced and became popular.
  • Older generations saw the music as vulgar and moral disasters, while young people embraced the freedom.
  • Dances such as the Charleston and the cakewalk were often sources of pastimes for the younger generations.
  • The Harlem Renaissance created tensions between blacks and whites. It sought to overcome white stereotypes of the black community.
  • Langston Hughes was one of the biggest contributors to Harlem literature.
  • Rudolph Fisher was also a writer during the Harlem Renaissance and contributed many notable short stories such as "City of Refuge".

Economic Status

Economy Booming During 1920s

  • Before the Roaring 20s, the money from the buying of the guns and payment of high interest loans that Europeans gave had a huge boost to United States economy
  • Rapid adoption of automobiles happened, because of the increased flexibility of car access, it led to more consumption, therefore more demand, which furthermore leads to economic growth.
  • Growth of suburbs accelerated therefore caused a boost to economy in terms of constructing houses.
  • The expanding access to electricity led to new types of lighting and heating to homes leading to growth in electricity industry.
  • Radios and more telephone communication broke up rural isolation therefore leading to more rural people migrating to cities, therefore more labor force.
  • GNP per capita grew 2.7 percent per year between 1920 and 1929.
  • New import taxes were called 'Tariffs' and made goods that were made outside of the USA more expensive to buy. This in turn encouraged Americans to buy goods made in the USA.
  • Hire Purchase - people could buy on credit. There was massive consumer spending.
  • Protectionism - import duties raised (1922).
  • Mass production - cars, radios, refrigerators etc.
  • causes
  • Reduced immigration because of limitations put on immigration of certain races, therefore less cheap labor
  • The Great Depression began in the summer of 1929, GNP fell 10.2 percent.
  • depression because of unexpected foreign competition started to interfere
  • consumption fell due to people starting to do saving
  • fall in consumption, because of low interest loans, businesses aren't being pushed to have more sales.
  • reduced capital investments
  • The government's response was for the Federal Reserve System to “create new money for national government which wasn't successful

In Conclusion

The development of modern communications and technology allowed mass culture to be rapidly spread nationwide, which placed more tension on social groups that were already in conflict. As cars and radios became common possessions, the spread of information and increase in mobility allowed culture to expand in ways it couldn't before. Music from the Harlem Renaissance and African American culture could spread to regions previously oblivious. This came as a shock to some nativists and extremists, which caused an increase in tension.


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