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The Jazz Age
Key
• Red writing – years/dates
• Yellow writing – historical evidence
• Blue writing – key words/phrases
• Purple writing – evaluation points
• During the 1920s, Jazz culture thrived, becoming almost a way of life.
• Jazz represented the free spirit attitude of the age, reflecting a
rebelliousness within society, especially against Prohibition; Jazz became
associated with speakeasies selling illegal alcohol.
• During this age, people were more able to make choices about their lives,
and this contributed to the changing lives of women with the emergence of
‘flappers’.
• The Jazz Age created the first celebrities, and the first talking movie was
called ‘The Jazz Singer’.
• It represented the first celebration of black culture and the Harlem
Renaissance, but there was still racism under the vibrancy.
Cinema and radio
Prosperity
• The development of cinema and radio had an effect on the economic
boom:
• Provided jobs
• Made electricity more desirable
• Normalised the individual’s exposure to advertising
• Made those from immigrant communities rich (esp. Jewish communities)
• 3 million radios owned by 1922
• Provided jobs in manufacturing and raw materials industries
• Broadcasting company shares rose astronomically
• RCA’s shares rose 929% 1925-1929
• HOWEVER: It could be argued that, radio in particular, was only a
result, rather than a driver, of prosperity:
• Not everyone could afford to buy radios, and it couldn’t have taken off without Ford’s
development of mass production techniques.
Radio
• Radio became a source of entertainment for millions, bringing the
country together and breaking down divisions.
• The main programming on the radio was entertainment, and many
programmes were sponsored; certain programmes would become
synonymous with the company who sponsored it.
• HOWEVER, as there were 556 radio stations by the end of 1922, the
number of mergers increased and this led to monopolies:
• Fox, Warner Bros, CBS and NBC owned 90% of the radio industry between
them.
Cinema
• After the film Birth of a Nation was made, it became clear that it was
possible to make feature-length films.
• The new emerging technologies were taken advantage of, and Jewish
and Eastern European immigrants put their imagination to the new
technology.
• During the 1920s 1000 films were being made per year.
• The economic boom meant that people could afford to go to the
cinema, and some went more than once a week.
Cinema and society
• The cinema, as a billion-dollar industry, was seen as a luxury, and
cinemas themselves were made comfortable.
• The films being made gave an image of the ‘Roaring Twenties’, and
brought people together as language was no barrier in the world of
silent film.
• Even after the Depression hit, cinema attendance was still high;
people wanted to have a laugh during the hard times and escape
from the reality of their situation.
Evaluation
• It had been argued that the Jazz Age brought people together,
creating – in effect – ‘one American society’.
• However, Jazz and the culture that it created had many who opposed
it, and it led to an uncomfortable clash between the old and the new:
• The ‘old’ were those living in small-town rural America, who were
likely to support Prohibition and harsher immigration laws, and/or be
KKK members.
• The ‘new’ were those experiencing the urbanisation of cities and the
Harlem Renaissance, who rebelled against Prohibition by going to
speakeasies.
General opposition
• Racists didn’t like Jazz as it was derived from music sung by slaves.
• The right-wing felt that it was leading to a decline in morality.
• Feminists such as Carrie Chapman blamed the Jazz culture for rising
illegitimacy rates:
• Using contraception became more acceptable
• Women’s behaviour changed (e.g. drinking more) and this was perceived as a
threat
• Provided young, unmarried couples the opportunity to date without
chaperoning
KKK opposition
• The KKK saw Jazz culture as disturbing what was ‘truly’ American.
• The clubs where Jazz was played and listened to were associated with
breaking Prohibition laws and so were seen as immoral.
• The KKK also didn’t like that women were assuming more masculine
roles.
Divisions within cities
• Even those within the urbanised cities were divided over the issue of
the Jazz culture, and whether or not black culture deserved to be
celebrated.
• Ghettoisation led to many African-Americans living in poor areas with
poor facilities such as healthcare and education.
• The White Flight led to the more affluent white workers leaving the
cities for the suburbs.
• African-Americans were not allowed into the clubs where Jazz was
being played, even though most of the Jazz musicians were black.

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The Jazz Age

  • 2. Key • Red writing – years/dates • Yellow writing – historical evidence • Blue writing – key words/phrases • Purple writing – evaluation points
  • 3. • During the 1920s, Jazz culture thrived, becoming almost a way of life. • Jazz represented the free spirit attitude of the age, reflecting a rebelliousness within society, especially against Prohibition; Jazz became associated with speakeasies selling illegal alcohol. • During this age, people were more able to make choices about their lives, and this contributed to the changing lives of women with the emergence of ‘flappers’. • The Jazz Age created the first celebrities, and the first talking movie was called ‘The Jazz Singer’. • It represented the first celebration of black culture and the Harlem Renaissance, but there was still racism under the vibrancy.
  • 5. Prosperity • The development of cinema and radio had an effect on the economic boom: • Provided jobs • Made electricity more desirable • Normalised the individual’s exposure to advertising • Made those from immigrant communities rich (esp. Jewish communities) • 3 million radios owned by 1922 • Provided jobs in manufacturing and raw materials industries • Broadcasting company shares rose astronomically • RCA’s shares rose 929% 1925-1929 • HOWEVER: It could be argued that, radio in particular, was only a result, rather than a driver, of prosperity: • Not everyone could afford to buy radios, and it couldn’t have taken off without Ford’s development of mass production techniques.
  • 6. Radio • Radio became a source of entertainment for millions, bringing the country together and breaking down divisions. • The main programming on the radio was entertainment, and many programmes were sponsored; certain programmes would become synonymous with the company who sponsored it. • HOWEVER, as there were 556 radio stations by the end of 1922, the number of mergers increased and this led to monopolies: • Fox, Warner Bros, CBS and NBC owned 90% of the radio industry between them.
  • 7. Cinema • After the film Birth of a Nation was made, it became clear that it was possible to make feature-length films. • The new emerging technologies were taken advantage of, and Jewish and Eastern European immigrants put their imagination to the new technology. • During the 1920s 1000 films were being made per year. • The economic boom meant that people could afford to go to the cinema, and some went more than once a week.
  • 8. Cinema and society • The cinema, as a billion-dollar industry, was seen as a luxury, and cinemas themselves were made comfortable. • The films being made gave an image of the ‘Roaring Twenties’, and brought people together as language was no barrier in the world of silent film. • Even after the Depression hit, cinema attendance was still high; people wanted to have a laugh during the hard times and escape from the reality of their situation.
  • 10. • It had been argued that the Jazz Age brought people together, creating – in effect – ‘one American society’. • However, Jazz and the culture that it created had many who opposed it, and it led to an uncomfortable clash between the old and the new: • The ‘old’ were those living in small-town rural America, who were likely to support Prohibition and harsher immigration laws, and/or be KKK members. • The ‘new’ were those experiencing the urbanisation of cities and the Harlem Renaissance, who rebelled against Prohibition by going to speakeasies.
  • 11. General opposition • Racists didn’t like Jazz as it was derived from music sung by slaves. • The right-wing felt that it was leading to a decline in morality. • Feminists such as Carrie Chapman blamed the Jazz culture for rising illegitimacy rates: • Using contraception became more acceptable • Women’s behaviour changed (e.g. drinking more) and this was perceived as a threat • Provided young, unmarried couples the opportunity to date without chaperoning
  • 12. KKK opposition • The KKK saw Jazz culture as disturbing what was ‘truly’ American. • The clubs where Jazz was played and listened to were associated with breaking Prohibition laws and so were seen as immoral. • The KKK also didn’t like that women were assuming more masculine roles.
  • 13. Divisions within cities • Even those within the urbanised cities were divided over the issue of the Jazz culture, and whether or not black culture deserved to be celebrated. • Ghettoisation led to many African-Americans living in poor areas with poor facilities such as healthcare and education. • The White Flight led to the more affluent white workers leaving the cities for the suburbs. • African-Americans were not allowed into the clubs where Jazz was being played, even though most of the Jazz musicians were black.