The Roaring Twenties

They were nice while they lasted

Birth of a Mass Culture

  • Automobiles

    • Ford Model T came at the cheap price of $260 so it was easily accessible to the common man

    • At the beginning of the 1920s the cars were luxuries but by the end of the decade people needed to have one

    • Along with the boom of cars came the need for service stations and more motels to meet the needs of the excessive amount of drivers on the road

  • Movies

    • 75% of the american population went to a movie theatre every week

    • Filmmakers and directors such as Charlie Chaplin created and used new filmmaking methods which revolutionized the film industry.

    • Audiences tended to show particular interest in certain actors which lead to the beginning of actors being popular and being scouted for their talents.

Culture Civil War

  • African Americans moved up into Northern cities to avoid discrimination

  • “New Woman” vs. Traditional woman

  • Emergence of jazz

  • Prohibition

  • KKK rising in popularity


New Women and the great migration

New women were extravagant and broke previously existing social boundaries set for women by being more open. This caused conflict with the past generation who were more conservative minded and reserved. Older people regarded the newer generation as obscene and vulgar, and the newer generation regarded the older generation as too reserved. Created conflict between the two generations as social boundaries were stretched and expanded past the comfort level of the pre-war generation.

The great migration described the period during which African Americans in the south left behind their old life styles (where they were often discriminated against) for a new life in the north which they believed would not include racism or segregation. A direct consequence of the great migration was that the KKK became more active and gained a lot of support from white northerners who were scared. The KKK was extremely influential during the 1920s and became known as the “Invisible Empire” due to its influence in American politics, meanwhile, African Americans began to develop their own culture in the North.

Hero of the 1920s ( Charlie Chaplin)

-His mother was sent away to a mental asylum,so young Chaplin was forced to become independent, and eventually joined a performing arts company, marking the beginning of his fame

-he started creating silent films as his contract with the company ended

-Chaplin revolutionized the film industry, bringing a unique aspect of creativity never seen before

-many of his films portrayed to the mass audiences social issues of the time, creating a visual representation to make society more aware during the war time. He created movies over immigration, women and many other issues by incorporating the comical flair with the emergence of jazz at the time.

Economic Status

  • How did the mass culture stimulate the economy during the 1920s?

First advertising on radio shows and at the movies. Now mass audiences would be presented with products. Both the rich and the poor could use the same product, encouraging more purchasing of items, boosting the economy. Also, the improving on the mass production systems significantly helped meet the demands of the public.

  • What areas of the culture led to the downturn of the economic stability of the US in the 1920s?

The rural population led to the downfall of the economy in the 1920’s. They had experienced a great boom of sales during WW1, when their farming goods were worth more to war torn Europe and had even greatly increased production of crops. Yet after the war there was no longer such a high demand of crops, yet a large output was constant, so the price of farmers goods was very little to what they were selling. Many farmers had taken out loans from banks to purchase farm equipment and add acreage to their land but now they couldn’t pay back their debts, going into debt themselves. The great Depression, for farmers, began in 1920 and 1921, and their loss only started to be felt by the nation in 1929.

Final Response

As America entered a new decade after their first world war, the technological advancements that helped connect America to a greater extent than ever before also created conflicts between groups as people and cultures became more and more connected. The Great Migration introduced a large population of African Americans into the North, this cultural change led to a backlash through the reformation of the Ku Klux Klan. During this time period, women were granted new rights and freedoms, such as voting rights, and began to dress differently and become less reserved than women were before. The popular culture, including jazz, movies, and popular dances, also portrayed women differently than before the war. This led to a generational conflict between the older, pre-war generation and the newer, post-war population as the elderly considered what the youth were doing to be vulgar and disrespectful. However, this cultural merging also began to create a "mass culture" which was powered by common technology shared by most groups such as automobiles and movies.