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The 1950’s: Pop Culture and Everyday Life

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1 The 1950’s: Pop Culture and Everyday Life

2 Life in 1950's America The 1950's brought about a decade of phenomenal prosperity.John Kenneth Galbraith published The  Affluent Society which stated that the nations postwar prosperity was a new phenomenon .  The economy was booming mostly because there was new technology that allowed the nation to produce a vast amount of goods. There were also a lot of services given to people that had never been there before.So, this lead to a higher standard of living. 

3 The G.I. Bill he G.I. Bill (officially titled Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was a bill that provided college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as GIs) as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided many different types of loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses. This lead to a totally different life in post WWII America.

4 Money Between 1940 and 1955 the average income of a family almost tripled. This was true for all classes: poor, middle and rich This was also evident in the number of families that owned their own home as the rate went from 41% to 61% There were also changes made to the work place Americans moved from a farming industry into White collar jobs: jobs in sales and management In 1956 there were more people working white collar jobs than blue collar jobs: jobs in physical labor There were also  multinational corporations: these expanded overseas and were located closer to raw materials There were also franchises in which a person owned several stores of one item

5 Family Life in the 1950’s Family Dinner
There was a lot of conformity in the 1950’s This also fostered a belief that everyone would have the same items as their neighbors: refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and air conditioners, coffee makers, blenders, lawn trimmers, etc… Of course, all of these items looked lovely in the many advertisements that filled the air waves in the 1950’s, as did all products 1950's Commercial “a freezer became a promise of plenty, a second car became a symbol of status, and a mouthwash became the key to immediate success” Chevrolet Commercial

6 More on the Family Many people started to live in Suburbia
Levittown, NY was one of the earliest new suburbs Bill Levitt mass produced a planned residential neighborhood with hundreds of simple, similar looking homes behind New York City. Levittown mid 1950's By the mid 1950’s suburbs accounted for 85% of the new construction. People looked for better places to raise their children outside of cities The G.I. Bill offered low-interest housing which made house much more affordable in the post WWII era. Of course, there were always those who frowned upon conformity in general

7 The Baby Boom From 1945-1961 more than 65 million children were born
This has become known as the baby boom At it’s height, a child was born every 7 seconds There were several reasons for the boom: 1) young couples who wanted to get married and had waited because of the war finally got married 2) the government encouraged marriage with benefits for home buyers 3) In TV and magazines, pop culture encouraged pregnancy, parenthood, and large families

8 Women in the 1950’s Women focused on the traditional role of homemaker during the 50’s Many women had gone to the factories during the 40’s and now the nation felt that women belonged in the home Women were discouraged from looking for jobs A popular magazine Better Homes and Gardens add an article that said, “Let’s face it, girls that wonderful guy in your house and in mine is building your house, your happiness and the opportunities that will come to your children.”

9 Women The magazine and society in general pushed women to stay home, have many babies and to have a lot of friends Despite these facts, many women continued on their journey towards a career, often dealing with frowns from society as a result. By 1960, nearly 1/3rd of all married women were part of the workforce. In 1950 there were 40,174,705 employed males and 15,559,454 employed females. Mom was probably younger than today. People married younger in the 50s median age for a first marriage was 22.8 years old for men and 20.3 for women. In 2000 the median age at first marriage: Males: 26.8 Females: 25.1. Interestingly, however, teenage pregnancy was high in the 1950’s. It reached its peak in Why do you suppose this was?

10 Divorce Divorce was not a common thing. Why? Societal pressure for one thing. You were supposed to get married and stay married, regardless of how miserable you were. Divorce carried a stigma In 1950 there were 385,000 divorces which only rose slightly to 395,000 by 1959. Contrast that with 1,135,000 in 1998, and you begin to see the trend. To put those numbers in perspective, only 2.6 people out of 1,000 were divorced in 1950, whereas it climbed to 4.2 out of 1,000 in 1998. A woman's best chance at employment was in traditionally accepted "women's jobs" such as secretary, teacher, nurse, librarian and so forth. So there was an economic incentive to stay married.

11 Technology It weighed more than 30 tons and tool up 1,800 square feet
Several important technological advances were made in the 1950’s: for example, the transistor which could miniaturize radios and calculators The computer was also discovered. The second model was called UNIVAC: Universal Automatic Computer It was used mostly to make military calculations. It weighed more than 30 tons and tool up 1,800 square feet There were also advances in transportation which allowed Americans to have more free time for leisure

12 Medicine Medical personnel started to really focus on finding antibiotics to fight infection. They also looked for new drugs to help arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. There were also breakthroughs in surgery. All of this allowed the life expectancy rate to rise: Women 71.1,  men  65.6 Polio was a huge problem in the 1950’s It was an epidemic in the United States, having even struck FDR restricting him to a wheelchair The disease struck different parts of the country each summer, crippling and killing many. No one knew what caused the disease so no one knew where it would strike: playgrounds and beaches were closed. In 1952, 58,00 cases were reported. Finally Jonas Salk developed a vaccine lowering the number of cases to 3,277 by 1960. Albert Sabin developed an oral vaccine and the disease is almost completely gone.

13 Air and Space The Soviet Union developed the first space shuttle called Sputnik in 1957. This was problematic for the USA who desperately wanted to catch up with their Soviet rivals On January 31, 1958, the USA (only 4 months after the Soviets) launched their own satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida First Launch At the same time, jet planes were being developed. This transformed travel cutting the time from east to west to 5 and ½ hours on a jet.

14 Mass Media: It all began with the TV
By the 1950’s TV’s were everywhere in America In 1952 for the first time, television news was able to broadcast the Republican and Democratic conventions live from Philadelphia to the rest of the nation. The importance of that event for rural America went beyond the fact that rural residents knew in real time that Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson were running for President against each other. TV signals that could reach into the most remote corners of the U.S. broke down the last vestiges of isolation in rural America. Common national carriage of popular TV shows, news and sports events meant that there was a shared national experience. The day after major televised events, researchers found that almost everyone was talking about the event. They weren't saying the same things, but there was a sense of national dialog.

15 More on TV The visual and aural experience together that television allowed – especially after the advent to color TV in early 60s – meant that regional cultural differences were ironed out. A more generalized "American" culture co-opted regional subcultures. Television familiarized rural residents with other regions making migration even more appealing. By 1957 there were 40 million television sets in use News had become important for communicating information. Advertisements were a way for creators of new products to use commercials to benefit sales and commercials allowed television programs to continue Television also began televising athletic events making professional and college sports very popular. 1st Championship football game

16 Television shows Dragnet
Some of the first television shows were centered around laughter. Previous to TV, these shows were aired via the radio Jack Benny with Bob Hope Another form of popular TV were westerns and action/adventure like the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy and Gunsmoke. Dragnet was also one of the first police shows ever and it drew large audiences. Dragnet There were also Variety shows like Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town Toast of the Town Finally, quiz shows were very popular especially after the beginning of The $64,000 Question The $64,000 Question

17 The New Youth Culture During the 1950’s, a lot of young Americans decided that they didn’t agree with conformity. In general these youth wanted freedom and and excitement, free from parental pressure. This lead to many new ideas. Perhaps the most memorable being rock n’ roll. Alan Freed noticed white teenagers buying African American rhythm and blues records and dancing to the music in the store. He asked for permission to begin playing the music on his radio. The teenagers went crazy over it. Soon, white musicians started making music that stemmed from these African American rhythms and a new form of music was born: Rock N’ Roll

18 Rock N’ Roll Jailhouse Rock Maybelline Johnny B. Goode
Most Rock N’ Roll centered around romances, cars, and other things important to teenagers. Some of the most famous artists were Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, as well as Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley would eventually become the “King of Rock n’ Roll” Issues with Rock N' Roll Jailhouse Rock Maybelline Johnny B. Goode Rock Around the Clock

19 African American Artists
African Americans worked hard to be accepted in the country that often treated them like second class citizens Television tended to shut them out In 1956 Nat King Cole was given his own program but it was eventually shut down because no one would sponsor a program hosted by an African American Rock N’ Roll Singers did better They were accepted and revered in some cases Some of the most popular were Ray Charles, The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas Little Richard and Chuck Berry are thought to have given inspiration to groups like The Beatles The Supremes

20 The Other Part of the Country
In the 50’s about 1 in 5 people lived below the poverty line, somewhere around 30 million people Many poor were single mothers, the elderly, immigrants, inner city residents, Native Americans, and those living between Georgia and Pennsylvania (Appalachian Region) When the rich and middle class moved out of cities tax dollars went with them which caused a decline for all cities Often times, government help made things worse Some of the worst hit were African Americans who had left the South to come North looking for a better life

21 Juvenile Delinquency Between 1948 and 1953, there was a 45 percent rise in juvenile crime rates By 1954, 1 million young people got themselves into trouble Juveniles were committing car theft, rape, muggings, and murders These delinquents were not only poorer people: it reached across the classes The youth had conformed for so long that they felt they needed to rebel This was also a problem as the baby boomers reached school age In the 50’s school enrollments increased by 13 million There was a race to get enough schools and teachers

22 Education? This was especially true after the launching of Sputnik
Americans felt more pressure than ever to perform in the classroom to beat out their Russia enemies Some called this a Crisis in the Classroom and offered advice about what to do Education Statistics

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