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Exploring American History Unit X – Post War America Chapter 27 – Section 3 The Nation Prospers The Nation Prospers The Big Idea An expanding economy led to new ways of life for many Americans in the 1950s. Main Ideas America’s economy boomed in the 1950s.

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exploring american history

Exploring American History

Unit X – Post War America

Chapter 27 – Section 3

The Nation Prospers

the nation prospers
The Nation Prospers
  • The Big Idea
  • An expanding economy led to new ways of life for many Americans in the 1950s.
  • Main Ideas
  • America’s economy boomed in the 1950s.
  • Americans enjoyed new forms of popular culture.
  • Social critics found fault with 1950s society.
main idea 1 america s economy boomed in the 1950s
Main Idea 1:America’s economy boomed in the 1950s.
  • Millions of Americans earned more money than ever and could spend more.
  • Young Americans getting married and starting families led to a baby boom, a significant increase in births.


  • Many businesses and workers moved to the Sun Belt– southern and western states that offered a warm climate year-round and low tax rates.
  • 1956 Highway Act encouraged travel and made commutes easier.

On the


suburbs and cities
Suburbs and Cities
  • Rising demand for homes encouraged development of new suburban neighborhoods.
    • By mid-1950s, builders were constructing preplanned suburbs all over the country.
    • By 1970 more Americans lived in suburbs than in cities.
  • Suburban life appealed to many.
    • Many enjoyed the additional space and convenience.
  • Suburban life was criticized by others.
    • Critics believed suburban life too heavily based on consumer culture
    • Lacking in diversity– most people living in suburbs were white and middle-class
    • Discrimination– some communities refused to sell homes to black families
  • Move to suburbs meant cities collected fewer taxes and began to decline.
  • Federal government began urban renewal program to improve life in cities.
  • 16 million GI's were returning from either Europe, the Pacific, or from military bases in the United States.  Many were planning to get married and raise families.  But these former soldiers were running into trouble in their search to find suitable shelter for their new families. 
  • The war had created a shortage of construction materials and the housing industry had fallen off rapidly.
  • At the end of 1945, the US was in dire need of about five million houses, as ex-GIs and their families were living with their parents or in rented attics, basements, or unheated summer bungalows.  Some even lived in barns, trolley cars, and tool sheds.
  • In Levittown all a prospective buyer needed was a $90 deposit and payments of $58 per month
main idea 2 americans enjoyed new forms of popular culture

By end of 1950s, nearly 90 percent of American families owned television sets.

Americans shared the experience of watching the same news, comedies, and sports shows.

American families watched about six hours of television a day.


New styles of music helped reshape American culture.

New style of jazz, known as bebop, became popular.

Rock ’n’ roll swept the nation.

Teenage fans bought more than 70 percent of all records sold in the late 1950s.

Main Idea 2: Americans enjoyed new forms of popular culture.
baby boom television quiz shows
Baby Boom - Television- QUIZ SHOWS
  • A naively trusting public of the Fifties fell in love with television game shows. Some of the games were played for laughs and some for prizes and some for big money. Some survive today in contemporary form. The Price is Right wasn't born with Bob Barker at the helm. It was Bill Cullen in 1956.
  • On Sunday nights everything came to stop while America watched The $64,000 Question. At their peak, there were 22 game shows on the air.
  • By 1958 no one was laughing. That naive trust had been replaced by a suspicious cynicism that is with us yet. Why? Because many of the shows were rigged. The "winners" Americans had rooted for had been supplied with the answers in advance.
  • Charles Van Doren, - “Twenty-One”. As Van Doren kept winning, his popularity grew until he became a recognized celebrity. His acting ability didn't suffer either as America watched him "agonize" over each question. Ultimately, he won $129,000 - a hefty sum at any time, but a huge amount in the 50's
  • The scandal prompted Congressional hearings. Although there were no laws prohibiting the "fixing" of game shows, both the networks and their sponsors acknowledged the public's distaste and kept game shows off the air for quite some time.

This Is Your Life

I’ve Got A Secret

Price is right

Queen for a Day

Twenty-One- Scandal

To Tell the Truth

What’s My Line?

baby boom tv dramas
Baby Boom - TV Dramas
  • Daytime Soap Operas- Hawkins Falls- 1950-1955
  • Dragnet- 1950-1970- Jack Webb
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents- mystery/ suspense dramas that came to an end after the last commercial. 1955-1962
  • Dick Powell Theatre
  • Kraft Suspense Theatre
  • Studio One
  • The Whistler
  • Superman- Starring George Reeves- 1951-1957
  • Perry Mason - Lawyer- 1957-1966
  • Robin Hood- 1955-1958
  • Route 66- 1960-1964
  • Highway Patrol- 1955-1959
  • The Grey Ghost- 1957-1959
  • The Fugitive- 1963-1967
  • 77 Sunset Strip- 1958-1964
  • Ben Casey- Doctor show- 1961-1966

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Perry Mason

Robin Hood

Route 66

baby boom westerns
Baby Boom - Westerns
  • Roy Rogers- 1951-1957
  • Hopalong Cassidy- 1949-1951
  • Gene Autry- 1950-1956
  • Death Valley Days- 1952-1970(Ron Reagan)
  • Sgt. Preston of the Yukon- 1955-1958
  • Tombstone Territory- 1957-1958
  • Rough Riders- 1958-1959
  • Swamp Fox- 1959-1961
  • Johnny Ringo- 1959-1960
  • Laredo- 1967-1969
  • Here Come the Brides- 1968-1970
  • Bat Masterson- 1958-1961
  • Annie Oakley - 1952-1956
  • Branded- 1965-1966
  • Cisco Kid- 1950-1955- “Oh, Cisco, Oh Poncho”
  • Davey Crockett- 1954-1955
  • Gunsmoke- 1955-1971
  • Life and Times of Wyatt Earp- 1955-1961
  • Lone Ranger- 1949-1957
  • Maverick- 1957-1962
  • Riflman- 1958-1963
  • Rin Tin Tin- 1954-1959
  • Wild Bill Hickock- 1951-1958
  • Yancy Derringer- 1958-1959
  • Zorro- 1957-1959
baby boom variety shows
Baby Boom - Variety Shows
  • American Bandstand- Dick Clark- 1952-1987
  • Arthur Godfrey- 1949-1959
  • Milton Berle Show- 1948-1967
  • Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour- 1948-1970
  • Your Show of Shows- Sid Ceasar and Imogene Coca. 1950-1954
  • Perry Como Show- 1948-1963
  • Colgate Comedy Hour- 1950-1955
  • You Hit Parade- 1950-1959
  • Jack Benny Show- 1950-1965
  • People are Funny- Art Linkletter- 1954-1961
  • George Gobel Show- “Lonesome George”- 1954-1960
  • Ed Sullivan Show- 1948-1971- “A really big shew”
  • Diana Shore Show- 1951-1963 + 1974-1980
  • Lawrence Welk- 1955-1977
  • Red Skelton- 1951-1971- “God Bless”
  • Ernie Kovacs- 1952-1962
  • Jackie Gleason- 1952-1970
baby boom comedy shows
Baby Boom - Comedy Shows
  • Amos and Andy- 1951-1953
  • Andy Griffith Show- 1960-1968
  • Bachelor Father- 1957-1962
  • Batman- 1966-1968
  • Beverly Hillbillies- 1962-1971
  • Brady Bunch- 1969-1974
  • Burns and Allen- 1950-1958
  • Car 54 Where are you?- 1961-1963
  • Make Room for Danny- Danny Thomas- 1953-1964
  • Dennis the Menace- 1959-1963
  • Many Loves of Doby Gillis- 1959-1963
  • Get Smart- 1965-1969
  • Gilligans Island- 1964-1967
  • I Dream of Jeannie- 1965-1970
  • I Love Lucy- 1951-1957
  • The Honeymooners- 1952-1961
  • Leave it to Beaver- 1957-1963
  • Mr. Ed- 1961-1965
  • Ozzie and Harriet- 1952-1966
  • Topper- 1953-1955
  • Grouch Marx- You Bet Your Life- 1950-1961
  • Father Knows Best-1954-1963
baby boom kid s shows
Baby Boom - Kid’s Shows
  • Captain Kangaroo- 1955-1984
  • Ding Dong School- 1952-1956
  • Flintstones- 1960-1966
  • Flipper- 1964-1967
  • My Friend Flicka- 1956-1958
  • Howdy Doody- 1947-1960
  • Jetons- 1962-1963
  • Lassie- 1954-1971
  • Mickey Mouse Club- 1955-1957
  • The Monkees- 1966-1968
  • Bozo the Clown- 1961-Today- Chicago TV
  • Romper Room- 1954-1992
  • Soupy Sales show- 1960- Pie in the Face.
main idea 3 social critics found fault with 1950s society
Main Idea 3: Social critics found fault with 1950s society.
  • Some women were frustrated at lack of opportunities.
    • Could only find work in limited fields
    • Discouraged by expectation that they would give up jobs when they got married
  • Novelists commented on society in their work.
    • J.D. Salinger criticized culture filled with love of money and conformity.
    • Ralph Ellison wrote of how African Americans were excluded by society.
  • Young people known as beatniks, or beats, criticized society with unusual writing styles and rebellious behavior.
    • Beat authors inspired many to question the rules of mainstream society.
    • Many identified with rebellious characters in popular movies of the 1950s.