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The Roaring 20’s. 1920s Overview. The 1920’s laid the foundation for modern America. Many new inventions, new manners of dress and behavior, and new entertainment and leisure activities began in this decade.

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1920s overview
1920s Overview
  • The 1920’s laid the foundation for modern America. Many new inventions, new manners of dress and behavior, and new entertainment and leisure activities began in this decade.
  • Prohibition, the sale of alcohol, was started with the 18th Amendment—yet very few people in urban areas followed the law.
  • The decade was all about “pushing the boundaries”: technological and social boundaries were shattered as we embraced an urban future.
  • Often referred to as the “Lost Generation”- innocence lost during the war, driven by greed, materialism, pleasure and shallow
1920 s slang
1920’s Slang
  • What can slang terms tell us about an era?
  • With your groups, review the packets of 1920’s slang terms and complete the following:
  • Make a list of all the terms still used today
  • Which ones surprise you?
  • What 5 are the ‘best’ in your opinion?
  • What 5 are the ‘strangest’ in your opinion?
  • Create a list of 10 slang terms from your generation?
  • How is your slang similar to and different from the slang of the 1920s?
  • What slang terms do your parents(or older people) use that you don’t?
  • Create a quick skit with your group using a minimum of 15 terms from the 1920’s. Give the skit a setting( dance hall, speakeasy, party, school, etc.) Each person should have lines!!!!!!!!!!
post war adjustment
Post-War Adjustment
  • 1.Hardships of WWI
  • 2. Social unrest/change
    • 3,600 strikes in 1919
    • Bombs mailed to prominent figures(plans foiled)
    • Simultaneous bombing of 8 U.S. cities(June,2 1919)
    • 18th-19th amendment
    • Intense race riots in major cities 1916-1919
  • Isolationism: pulling away from world events
  • People feared:
    • 1. Immigrants
    • 2. Communism
    • 3. Anarchists
palmer raids red scare 1919 1920
Palmer Raids(Red Scare 1919-1920)

American’s fear communists and anarchists are operating everywhere!

  • Attorney General Mitchell Palmer began Palmer Raids
  • Rounding up suspected communists, deporting and jailing some (without trials)
  • Claim alleged plot to overthrown the U.S. on May Day 1920
  • 600+ deported
  • 10,000+ arrested
closing the doors
Closing the Doors
  • Immigration Act of 1917-
    • but not limited to “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, "criminals", “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective”, polygamists, and anarchists. Almost all Asian nations
  • Emergency Quota Act-1921
    • Only 3% of each ethnic group admitted(1910 census)
    • 805,228 in 1920 to 309,556 in 1921-22
  • Immigration Act 1924

(National Origins Act)

  • Lower Quota- 2%(1890 census)
    • Japanese Exclusion Act
sacco and vanzetti
Sacco and Vanzetti
  • April 15, 1920 gunmen robbed a shoe factory and killed the paymaster and guard
  • Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested; they were known anarchists and Italian immigrants
  • Found guilty and executed in 1927
  • Evidence against them was controversial; many felt they were innocent.
postwar social change 1920 1929
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Society in the 1920s: Changing Role of Women

Flappers-example of a “new woman.”

Short dresses, short hair,

wore make-up, smoke and

drank in public. Not every

woman was a flapper.

Working Women-women worked low-paying jobs as clerks or office typists in the cities. Employers were still prejudiced towards women.

Women Vote- 19th Amendment in 1920. Few women voted early in the decade but laid the foundation for future generations.

life in the twenties
Life in the Twenties-
  • Smoke, drank, loved to dance (rebels!)
  • Birth Control ^ and Divorces ^
  • Kids go to school and peer pressure begins
  • 1930 51% of children were in school compared to 6% in 1890
postwar social change 1920 19291
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Society in the 1920s: American Heroes

National Celebrities- Charles Lindbergh was first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. He became instant celebrity

Sports Heroes-Sports became big business in the 1920s.

Babe Ruth- Most famous player of the 1920s. Hit 60 homeruns for the Yankees in 1927.

Jack Dempsey- Heavyweight champion of the world. First boxer to earn $1 million.

postwar social change 1920 19292
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Mass Media and the Jazz Age

Mass Media

Radio- Early radio broadcast reached only local audiences. Broadcasts go national by end of the 1920s

Results- National networks, advertising becomes prominent, created national culture, music increased in popularity, sports broadcasted, spreads news quickly

Movies- Silent movies until 1927 (The Jazz Singer). California becomes movie capital (no rain)

Results- Breaks down ethnic barriers to create national culture.

postwar social change 1920 19293
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Society in the 1920s: Americans on the Move

Great Migration-Movement of

African-Americans from the South to industrial centers of the NE and Midwest

Causes- Decreased cotton prices, lack of immigrant labor, war industries

Effects- Higher wages, more educational opportunities, and better standard of living for African-Americans

Negatives- Race Riots and growth of the KKK

postwar social change 1920 19294
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Mass Media and the Jazz Age

Mass Media

Writers- Many were affected by WWI and had some pent up anger. Reflected the 1920s spirit of rebelling against social norms. Collectively known as the Lost Generation

F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Great Gatsby—commentary on the illusion of the American Dream.

Ernest Hemingway- Served in WWI and wrote about the war (Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises)


postwar social change 1920 19295
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Mass Media and the Jazz Age

Jazz Age- Popular urban music of the 1920s. Started in New Orleans and moved North during the Great Migration. Created by and performed mostly by African-American artists, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and “Jelly Roll” Morton.


postwar social change 1920 19296
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Mass Media and the Jazz Age

Harlem Renaissance-Growth of African-American Arts and Literature. African American Literary and Artistic Movement-stressed cultural pride

Writers- Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes were the most popular.

postwar social change 1920 19297
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Cultural Conflicts: Every Action Has a Reaction

Prohibition- 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, or consumption of alcohol

Volstead Act- Defined alcoholic beverages and imposed criminal penalties

South- Favored, wanted to keep alcohol out of the hands of African-Americans

West- Favored, wanted to keep public intoxication, prostitution, and crime under control

East- Not favor, mostly ignored by foreign born city dwellers

Enforcement- Mostly ignored. Poor punished more than rich, cops open to bribery

postwar social change 1920 19298
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Cultural Conflicts: Every Action Has a Reaction

Prohibition- lawbreakers

Speakeasies- “secret” clubs that sold illegal alcohol

Bootleggers- someone who makes or sells illegal liquor

Moonshiners- homemade alcohol suppliers (bathtub gin)

Gangsters- Bootlegging led to bribery and violence. Chicago in the 1920shad 500 gangsters murdered

Al Capone- Head of the Chicago Syndicate. Eliminated Irish competitors on 2/14/1929

postwar social change 1920 19299
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Cultural Conflicts: Every Action Has a Reaction

Fundamentalism- A rigid view of religion and literal interpretation of the Bible. Threatened in the 1920s by science.

Scopes Monkey Trial- Fundamentalists vs. Modernists

Results- Scope was found guilty but the Fundamentalists lose in the long term. Increasing number of Christians come to reconcile science and religion.

scopes trial aka the monkey trial 1925
Scopes Trial aka The Monkey Trial (1925)
  • Dayton, Tennessee
  • John T. Scopes a substitute biology teacher agrees to include evolution in the curriculum (backed by the ACLU)
  • Challenged the Butler law
  • Trial is a national sensation
  • Creationism vs. Evolution
  • Clarence Darrow (Scopes lawyer) vs. William Jennings Bryan(prosecuting lawyer)
  • Scopes fined $100(a lot), later overturned
postwar social change 1920 192910
Postwar Social Change 1920-1929

Cultural Conflicts: Every Action Has a Reaction

Racial Tensions- Reaction to the rising social status of African-Americans

Race Riots- Violent reaction to the Great Migration. 1919 known as Red Summer as riots breakout in major cities (Chicago, Omaha, E. St. Louis)

Return of the Klan- Returns in the 1920s and spreads to the Midwest. Capitalized on resulting tensions caused by the Great Migration. Membership peaks in 1925 at 5 million members.

United Negro Improvement Association- Founded by Marcus Garvey to promote African-American self-reliance, self-confidence and the resettlement of the Africa.

ku klux klan
Ku Klux Klan
  • Inspired by the film, The Birth of a Nation
  • William J. Simmons revived the Klan(Imperial Wizard)
  • Devoted to 100% Americanism-Appeal to patriotic WASP’s
  • Anti-Jewish, immigrant, Catholic, communist, black
  • Reached 4 million members
  • KKK didn’t have to pay taxes and charged $10 to be a member, so they became rich
kkk cont
KKK Cont.
  • Violent!- Lynching, killing, shooting, whipping, branding, tar, and feather, etc.
  • Police and judges ignored violence

Postcard of

1920 Duluth lynching

presidents of the 1920 s
Presidents of the 1920’s

Warren G. Harding (1921-1923 #29)

Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929 #30)

warren g harding
Warren G. Harding
  • Pledge a “return of normalcy”
  • Established Bureau of Budget to make gov’t fiscally responsible
  • Cut taxes, raised tariffs, reduced debt, helps farmers
  • Cabinet was mostly his poker buddies, “Ohio Gang, “ and most were corrupt
  • Teapot Dome Scandal- Secretary of interior, Albert Fall, leased gov’t oil reserves to private companies and took money; found guilty
  • Harding died before scandal became public knowledge (slightly mysteriously)
calvin coolidge business of government is business
Calvin Coolidge: Business of government is Business
  • Passed Dawes Plan: loaned $ to Germany so they could pay France (did to avoid war)
  • Passed Kellogg-Briand Pact: a treaty to outlaw war. It failed to include punishments for future attacks
  • Main business of people is business; pledge prosperity: extremely pro-business
  • Reduced taxes, wages ^ 35%, productivity ^