THE 1950s:“Conservatism, Complacency, and Contentment” OR “Anxiety, Alienation, and Social Unrest” ?? Ms. Stacey M. Hoye Caprock HS Amarillo, TX
•Nickname: "Ike" •Born: Oct. 14, 1890, in Texas •Died: March 28, 1969, in Washington, D.C. •Education: Graduate of West Point •WWII: Supreme Allied Commander during WWII•34th President: Republican, 1953 to 1961•VP: Richard Nixon
Baby Boomers •It seems to me that every other young housewife I see is pregnant. •British visitor to America, 1958.1957 1 baby born every 7 seconds
Baby Boomers •During GreatDepression, birthrate and population decreased. School Enrollment of children •Post WWII, both increase
AN AFFLUENT SOCIETY: Economic Prosperity• Regional Growth: The Sunbelt – Warmer climate, lower taxes, lower labor costs – Military spending Population Change, 1950-1960
The Culture of the Car •The U. S. population was on the move in the 1950s. •NE & Mid-W ---> S & SW (“Sunbelt” states)
On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signedthe "ServicemensReadjustment Act of 1944" “GI Bill of Rights”
AN AFFLUENT SOCIETY: Economic Prosperity• G.I. Bill of Rights (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) – Education • job training • college – Loans for homes and businesses G.I. Bill & College Enrollment
•Help veterans adjust to civilian life after separation from service •Gain higher education if you couldn’t afford one •Restore lost educational opportunities because of military service. •Enhance our nation •FDR signing the GI Bill through a more highly of Rights into law. educated and productive•This was a correction of work force our mistake after WWI.
GI Bill provided 6 benefits•education and training•Loans for a home, farm, or business•unemployment pay of $20 a week for 52 weeks•job-finding assistance Eligible for GI Bill Benefits WWII veteran, served 90 days or more after September 16, 1940 and a honorable discharge. Program ended July 25, 1956•Of the 15,440,000 veterans, some 7.8 million weretrained.•2,230,000 in college•3,480,000 in other schools•1,400,000 in on-job training•690,000 in farm training Total cost of the World War II education program was $14.5 billion.
Suburban LivingLevittown, L. I.: “The American Dream” 1949 William Levitt produced 150 houses per week.$7,990 or $60/month with no down payment.
Suburban Living: The New “AmericAN DreAm”1 story high12’x19’ living room2 bedroomstiled bathroomgaragesmall backyardfront lawn By 1960 1/3 of the U. S. population in the suburbs.
Suburban Living SHIFTS IN POPULATION DISTRIBUTION, 1940-1970 1940 1950 1960 1970Central 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 TownsU. S. Bureau of the Census.
Suburban LivingSHIFTS IN POPULATION DISTRIBUTION, 1940-1970 1940 1950 1960 1970Central 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.
AN AFFLUENT SOCIETY: Growth of SuburbsREASONS FOR THE GROWTH OF SUBURBS• Growth of families (“baby boom”)• Home-ownership became more affordable – Low-interest mortgage loans • gov’t-backed & interest tax-deductable – Mass-produced subdivisions• Expressways – facilitated commuting• Decline in inner city housing stock • Also: congestion, pollution• Race – “white flight”
Suburban LivingThe Typical TV Suburban Families Leave It to The Donna Beaver Reed Show 1957-1963 1958-1966 Father Knows Best The Ozzie & Harriet Show 1954-1958 1952-1966
Highway Act of 195642,000 miles of interstate highways linking majorcitiesImprove national defenseGood for jobs, truckingBad for the poor, public transportation
The Culture of the Car America became a more homogeneous nation because of the automobile.First McDonald’s (1955) Drive-In Movies Howard Johnson’s
The Culture of the Car Car registrations: 1945 --> 25,000,000 1960 --> 60,000,000 2-family cars doubles from 1951-19581956 --> Federal Interstate Highway Act --> largest public works project in American history! * Cost $32 billion * 41,000 miles of new highways built
The Culture of the Car1959 Chevy Corvette 1958 Pink Cadillac
The Culture of the Car1955 --> Disneyland opened in Southern California. (40% of the guests came from outside California, most by car.)Frontier Land Main Street Tomorrow Land
Truman’s “Fair Deal” program called for improved housing full employment a higher minimum wage better farm price supportsNew Tennessee Valley Administrations extension of Social Security. “Point Four Program” financial support of poor, underdeveloped lands keep underprivileged peoples from becoming communists.
CONSENSUS AND CONFORMITY: Organized Labor• Taft-Hartley Act (Labor Management Relations Act of 1947)• Unions – big, powerful and more conservative – Merger AFL and CIO in 1955 – blue collar workers - enjoying middle-class incomes and benefits – Goal: preserve and extend compensation Labor Union Membership, 1 920-1992
ConsumerismAmericans were caught up in the “economic boom” that took place after WWII 1950 --> Introduction of the Diner’s Card
Consumerism Americans were becoming a consumersociety…..Buying whatever new product that came out that would make their lives comfortable.
Television 1946 --> 7,000 TV sets in the U. S. 1950 --> 50,000,000 TV sets in the U. S. Television is a vast wasteland --> Newton Minnow, Chairman of Federal Communications Commission, 1961 RADIO AND TELEVISION OWNERSHIP, 1940– 1960 Mass Audience •TV celebrated traditional American values:•Superman-----Truth, Justice, and the American way!
TelevisionDavy Crockett--King of the Wild Frontier Sheriff Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke The Lone Ranger (and his faithful sidekick, Tonto): Who is that masked man??
TelevisionFamily Shows --> glossy view of mostly middle- class suburban life. Wally and the BeavI Love Lucy Alice Kramden, The Honeymooners
Popular Culture• Consumer-driven mass economyTelevision• By 1961, 55 million TV sets• 3 national networks, bland sit-coms, westerns, quiz shows, sports,• “vast wasteland” for children, cultureAdvertising• All media, aggressive• Shopping centers, credit cards• Change from “mom & pop” to franchises
Popular CulturePaperback books• Reading Increase despite television—1 million copies a dayRecords• Mass-marketed, inexpensive LP’s or 45’s• Rock and Roll music becomes popular with teenagers
Teen Culture “Happy Days” OR “Juvenile Delinquency”?Dobie Gillis Marlon Brando in James Dean in The Wild One Rebel Without a (1953) Cause (1955)
• Teen Culture developed (free time, spending money) – “teenager” – consumerism • By 1956, 13 million teens with $7 billion to spend a year.• Rock and Roll – Elvis Presley• James Dean, “Rebel without a Cause”• “juvenile delinquency”In the 1950s --> the word “teenager” entered the American language.1956 --> 13 mil. teens with $7 billion to spend a year.
Teen CultureThe “Beatnik” Generation: * Jack Kerouac --> On The Road * Allen Ginsberg --> poem, “Howl” * Neal Cassady * William S. BurroughsA man is beat whenever he goes for broke and wagersthe sum of his resources on a single number; and theyoung generation has done that continually from earlyyouth------------John Clellan Holms•Jack Kerouac is said to have responded:We’re a beat generation!•Against traditional values of the Great Depressions andWWII generation (their parents)•Would influence the “counter-culture” of the 1960’s
Well-Defined Gender RolesThe ideal modern woman married, cooked andcared for her family, and kept herself busy byjoining the local PTA and leading a troop of CampfireGirls. She entertained guests in her family’ssuburban house and worked out on the trampoline tokeep 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 1956 William H. Whyte, Jr. The Organization Man A a middle-class, white suburban Family male is the ideal. Man
Religious RevivalCONSENSUS AND CONFORMITY: Religion • Organized religion expanded dramatically after WW2 – church/synagogue memberships reached highest level in US history • 1940 64,000,000; 1960 114,000,000 – thousands of new churches and synagogues built in suburbs • Why?? – more a means of socialization and belonging than evidence of interest in doctrine? • atmosphere of tolerance – stage of life?
Progress Through Science1951 -- First IBM (commercial) Mainframe Computer1952 -- Hydrogen Bomb Test ENIAC, first mainframe computer, 19451953 -- DNA Structure Discovered1954 -- Polio Vaccine Tested – Jonas Salk1957 -- First Commercial U. S. Nuclear Power Plant1958 -- NASA Created Automation: 1947-1957 - factory workers decreased by 4.3%, eliminating 1.5 million blue-collar jobs.