2Life in 1950's AmericaThe 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.
3The G.I. Billhe 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.
4MoneyBetween 1940 and 1955 the average income of a family almost tripled.This was true for all classes: poor, middle and richThis 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 placeAmericans moved from a farming industry into White collar jobs: jobs in sales and managementIn 1956 there were more people working white collar jobs than blue collar jobs: jobs in physical laborThere were also multinational corporations: these expanded overseas and were located closer to raw materialsThere were also franchises in which a person owned several stores of one item
5Family Life in the 1950’s Family Dinner There was a lot of conformity in the 1950’sThis 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 products1950'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
6More on the Family Many people started to live in Suburbia Levittown, NY was one of the earliest new suburbsBill Levitt mass produced a planned residential neighborhood with hundreds of simple, similar looking homes behind New York City.Levittown mid 1950'sBy the mid 1950’s suburbs accounted for 85% of the new construction.People looked for better places to raise their children outside of citiesThe 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
7The Baby Boom From 1945-1961 more than 65 million children were born This has become known as the baby boomAt it’s height, a child was born every 7 secondsThere were several reasons for the boom:1) young couples who wanted to get married and had waited because of the war finally got married2) the government encouraged marriage with benefits for home buyers3) In TV and magazines, pop culture encouraged pregnancy, parenthood, and large families
8Women in the 1950’sWomen focused on the traditional role of homemaker during the 50’sMany women had gone to the factories during the 40’s and now the nation felt that women belonged in the homeWomen were discouraged from looking for jobsA 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.”
9WomenThe magazine and society in general pushed women to stay home, have many babies and to have a lot of friendsDespite 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?
10DivorceDivorce 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 stigmaIn 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.
11Technology 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 calculatorsThe computer was also discovered. The second model was called UNIVAC: Universal Automatic ComputerIt was used mostly to make military calculations.It weighed more than 30 tons and tool up 1,800 square feetThere were also advances in transportation which allowed Americans to have more free time for leisure
12MedicineMedical 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 65.6Polio was a huge problem in the 1950’sIt was an epidemic in the United States, having even struck FDR restricting him to a wheelchairThe 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.
13Air and SpaceThe 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 rivalsOn January 31, 1958, the USA (only 4 months after the Soviets) launched their own satellite from Cape Canaveral, FloridaFirst LaunchAt 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.
14Mass Media: It all began with the TV By the 1950’s TV’s were everywhere in AmericaIn 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.
15More on TVThe 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 useNews 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 continueTelevision also began televising athletic events making professional and college sports very popular.1st Championship football game
16Television shows Dragnet Some of the first television shows were centered around laughter.Previous to TV, these shows were aired via the radioJack Benny with Bob HopeAnother 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.DragnetThere were also Variety shows like Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the TownToast of the TownFinally, quiz shows were very popular especially after the beginning of The $64,000 QuestionThe $64,000 Question
17The New Youth CultureDuring 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
18Rock 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' RollJailhouse RockMaybellineJohnny B. GoodeRock Around the Clock
19African American Artists African Americans worked hard to be accepted in the country that often treated them like second class citizensTelevision tended to shut them outIn 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 AmericanRock N’ Roll Singers did betterThey were accepted and revered in some casesSome of the most popular were Ray Charles, The Supremes and Martha and the VandellasLittle Richard and Chuck Berry are thought to have given inspiration to groups like The BeatlesThe Supremes
20The Other Part of the Country In the 50’s about 1 in 5 people lived below the poverty line, somewhere around 30 million peopleMany 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 citiesOften times, government help made things worseSome of the worst hit were African Americans who had left the South to come North looking for a better life
21Juvenile DelinquencyBetween 1948 and 1953, there was a 45 percent rise in juvenile crime ratesBy 1954, 1 million young people got themselves into troubleJuveniles were committing car theft, rape, muggings, and murdersThese delinquents were not only poorer people: it reached across the classesThe youth had conformed for so long that they felt they needed to rebelThis was also a problem as the baby boomers reached school ageIn the 50’s school enrollments increased by 13 millionThere was a race to get enough schools and teachers
22Education? 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 enemiesSome called this a Crisis in the Classroom and offered advice about what to doEducation Statistics