The Roaring Twenties

How did American Culture and Attitude Change in the 1920’s?

The 1920’s were a time of great social change
characterized by apparent prosperity, new ideas, and personal
freedom. Known as the “roaring twenties” America was reacting to the
depression of the World War. It was like a giant party. New
technology, new ideas and great change. Yet under the surface the
same conservative values still flourished. The economic boom of the
era was short-lived, but most of the social changes were


What were some of the manners and
moral changes that occurred?

1. America’s population generally shifted from rural
areas to more urban ones.

More than half of the nations population now lived
in cities and towns.

2. Urban communities life was now unquestionably
lively and stimulating. There were many things to see-museums, art
exhibits, plays, athletic events, trade expositions, and the

3. New ideas in science were examined and often
accepted. Of course this was the case in the cities more so than in
the small towns. In small town America most people remained
relevtivley conservative. (See Scopes Monkey Trial) People now tended
to be judged on their accomplishments rather than on their social

As life in the United States began to undergo
changes, many felt the gnawing insecurity associated with change. The
heroic person who could face the trials of competition or the dangers
of the unknown became larger than life. The hero had come up against
the strongest adversaries and won. For people living in uncertain
times, the hero was proof that a brave and strong-willed man or woman
could win out over fears of the unknown or the impossible.

What qualities seem to have been idolized
in the 1920’s?

1. Writers Speak for the

A. F.
Scott Fitzgerald
This Side Of Paradise and The Great
He won instant acclaim as the
spokesman for the twenties generation. In
these novels and others, he described the confusion and tragedy
caused by a frantic search for material success.

B. Ernest
expressed disgust with
prewar codes of behavior and the glorification of war. He also
developed a clear, straightforward prose that set a new, tough,
“hard-boiled” literary style

2. Sport

A. Babe
– Perhaps the greatest baseball
player who ever lived. He led the Yankees to seven world series and
his record for Home Runs (Total and in a season – 60) stood for
years. Ruth was a media icon and fan favorite.

B. Harold Edward
“Red” Grange
– College football hero,
this running back drew tens of thousands to watch him play and helped
popularize college football.

C. Jack
– One of the greatest
heavyweight boxers of all time. Lost a dramatic title match to Gene

D. Bill Tilden and
Helen Wills
–Tennis champions who
epitomized grace and poise. These star athletes helped popularize the
sport of tennis.

E. Johnny Weismuller – Olympic gold medal winning
swimmer who later starred in Hollywood as Tarzan Lord of the


3. Other important

A. Charles
A. Lindbergh
–He flew a nonstop flight
from New York to Paris in thirty-three and a half hours. He was the
man who epitomized heroism in the twenties. Lindbergh became a world
and national hero who charcaterized courage and doing the

B. Louis
–a trumpeter who played the
first jazz heard north of Mason-Dixon line.

C. W. E. B. Du
–founder of the NAACP and worked hard
to improve the lives of blacks in America.

How Did the Role of Women Change in the

During World War 1, women served their country in
almost every possible capacity. They took jobs in steel foundries,
chemical plants, and munitions factories. Many went overseas as
nurses in the newly created Army Corps of Nurses. Their experiences
away from home and traditional women’s work gave them a strong moral
argument for the right to vote. The many tactics of the women and the
shameful way they were treated finally forced Congress to deal with
the issue. President Wilson, finally declared himself in favor of
woman suffrage and the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August

Many women’s styles changed as well. The popular
hair style of the time was for women’s hair to be cut short into a
bob. These modern women were known as “flappers.”

Between 1910 and 1930 the proportion of women in
the labor force remained at about 20 percent. However, there was a
notable change in the kinds of work that some women did. The number
of female cooks, dress makers, household servants, and farmhands
dropped. The number of women doctors, bankers, lawyers, police and
probation officer, social workers, and hairdressers rose.

For all the changes in status during the twenties,
it was still generally accepted-even by most women-that “woman’s
place is in the home.” Men should earn more than women, it was
thought, because usually they supported wives and children. Women
workers generally were single. In some states, women teachers who
married lost their jobs.