1950s American culture - Greater Albany Public Schools

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Nov 7, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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Essential Question

Assess the validity of the above
statement.


Explain how the decade of the 1950s
laid the groundwork for the social and
political turbulence of the 1960s.



The postwar era witnessed tremendous economic growth and rising social
contentment and conformity. Yet in the midst of such increasing affluence and
comfortable domesticity, social critics expressed a growing sense of unease with
American culture in the 1950s.

THE 1950s:

“Anxiety, Alienation, and

Social Unrest”?

“Conservatism, Complacency, and
Contentment”

Or . . .


Essential Terms/Concepts


The New “American Dream”


Baby Boom


Suburban Living


Consumerism


The Changing Workplace


Car Culture


Role of Television


Teen Culture


Religious Revival


Scientific Advances


Well
-
defined Gender Roles


Cold War Tension


Baby
Boom

It seems to me that every other young housewife I
see is pregnant.



--

British visitor to America, 1958

1957


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Baby
Boom

Dr. Benjamin Spock


and the Anderson
Quintuplets

Early Reading and School

Suburban
Living

$7,990 or $60/month with no
down payment.

Levittown:
“The American Dream”

1949


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Suburban Living

The New “American Dream”

1 story high

12’x19’ living room

2 bedrooms

1 bathroom

Single garage

Small backyard

Front lawn

By 1960


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Suburban
Living


SHIFTS IN POPULATION

DISTRIBUTION,

1940
-
1970





1940

1950



1960

1970

Central Cities


31.6%

32.3%




32.6% 32.0%

Suburbs


19.5%

23.8%



30.7% 41.6%

Rural Areas/


48.9%


43.9%



36.7% 26.4%

Small Towns



U. S. Bureau of the Census.

Suburban
Living:

The Typical TV Suburban Families

The Donna
Reed Show

1958
-
1966

Leave It

to Beaver

1957
-
1963

Father

Knows Best

1954
-
1958

The Ozzie & Harriet Show

1952
-
1966

Leave it to Beaver

Idealized living after
years of sacrifice

Consumerism

1950


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All babies were potential consumers who spearheaded a
brand
-
new market for food, clothing, and shelter.






--

Life

Magazine (May, 1958)

Consumerism

A
Changing Workplace


Automation
:


1947
-
1957


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4.3%, eliminating 1.5 million


blue
-
collar jobs.


By 1956


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Corporate Consolidation
:


By 1960


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WHY?

Cold War military buildup.

A
Changing Workplace

New Corporate Culture
:


“The Company Man”



Car Culture



Car registrations: 1945


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-
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largest


public works project in American


history

Cost: $32 billion.

41,000 miles

Route 66


Sample Lesson Plan (see handout)


Links Chicago to LA


America shifts focus to West


Car Culture

First McDonald’s
(1955)

America became a homogeneous nation

Drive
-
In
Movies

Howard Johnson’s

Car Culture



The U. S. population was on the move in the 1950s.

Lure of California

1955


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guests came from outside California, most by car.)

Frontier Land

Main Street

Tomorrow Land

Television



1946


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Mass Audience


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American values.

Television is a vast wasteland
.



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Television


The Western

Davy Crockett

King of the Wild Frontier

The Lone Ranger

(and his faithful

sidekick, Tonto):


Sheriff Matt
Dillon,
Gunsmoke

Television
-

Family Shows

I Love Lucy

Clip from "I
Love Lucy"

The Honeymooners

Glossy view of mostly

middle
-
class suburban life.


Teen
Culture

In the 1950s


瑨t⁷潲搠
“teenager”
entered
the
American
language.

By 1956


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扩b
⸠瑯
s灥湤p敡捨e祥慲
.

1951: “ROCK ‘N ROLL”

Elvis on "Ed Sullivan"

Teen
Culture

“Juvenile Delinquency”

Marlon Brando in

The Wild One

(1953)

James Dean in

R
ebel Without a
Cause

(1955)

1951


J. D. Salinger’s
Catcher in the Rye

Clip:
"Rebel"

Teen
Culture

The “Beat” Generation
:

Jack Kerouac


佮O周T 副慤

Allen Ginsberg


poem, “Howl”

“Beatnik”

“Clean” Teen

Teen
Culture

Behavioral Rules of the 1950s:

Obey Authority.

Control Your Emotions.

Don’t Make Waves


Fit in

with the Group.

Don’t Even Think About Sex!

Religious
Revival


Today in the U. S., the Christian faith is back in the
center of things.

--

Time

magazine, 1954

Church membership
:
1940


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Television Preachers
:

1. Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen


“Life is


Worth Living”

2. Reverend Billy Graham


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Religious
Revival

Hollywood
: apex of the biblical epics.

It’s un
-
American to be un
-
religious!



--

The Christian Century
, 1954


The Robe The Ten Commandments Ben
Hur


1953 1956 1959

Well
-
Defined
Gender Roles

The
ideal modern woman

married, cooked and

cared for her family, and kept herself busy by joining the local
PTA and leading a troop of Campfire Girls. She entertained
guests in her family’s suburban house and worked out on the
trampoline to keep her size 12 figure.


--

Life

magazine, 1956

Marilyn

Monroe

The
ideal 1950s man

was the provider, protector,

and the boss of the house.
-
-

Life

magazine, 1955

Being a middle
-
class, white
suburban

male is the ideal.

Well
-
Defined
Gender Roles

Changing Sexual Behavior:





Alfred Kinsey

Premarital sex was common.

Extramarital affairs were frequent

among married couples.

Kinsey’s results are an assault on the family

as a basic unit of society, a negation of moral
law, and a celebration of licentiousness.


--

Life

magazine, early 1950s

Progress
Through Science

1951
--

First Computer

1952
--

Hydrogen Bomb Test

1953
--

DNA Structure Discovered

1954
--

Salk Vaccine Tested for Polio

1957
--

First Commercial U. S. Nuclear


Power Plant

1958
--

NASA Created

1959
--

Press Conference of the First 7


American Astronauts

Progress
Through Science

1957


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乡瑩N湡氠䑥D敮獥†
Education Act

We NEED MORE SCIENCE!


Cold War Tensions

1959


乩硯N
-
Khrushchev: “Kitchen Debate”

Clash of Ideologies

Capitalism and Democracy


Communism


US Foreign Policy