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● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Postwar America:

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Presentation on theme: "● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Postwar America:"— Presentation transcript:

1 ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Postwar America: 1954 - 1960
PowerPoint by Mr. Hataway Created March 7, 2003 Revised March 14, 2011


3 Why It Matters After World War II, the country enjoyed a period of economic prosperity. Many more Americans could now aspire to a middle-class lifestyle, with a house in the suburbs and more leisure time. However, not everyone was prospering. Television became a favorite form of entertainment.




7 Return to a Peacetime Economy
G.I. Bill – a.k.a. Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 Provided federal aid to help veterans adjust to civilian life in the areas of hospitalization, purchase of homes and businesses, and, especially, education.

8 Return to a Peacetime Economy
G.I. Bill – The Federal Government subsidized college tuition, fees, books, and educational materials for veterans. Also contributed to living expenses incurred while attending college or other approved institutions.

9 Return to a Peacetime Economy
Election of 1948 Thomas Dewey (R) of NY. Harry S Truman (D) incumbent. Looked like Truman would not be reelected.

10 Return to a Peacetime Economy
Election of 1948 “Give-em Hell Harry!” Whistle train campaign. Truman criticized the “Do-Nothing Congress” Truman won, Democrats regained control of Congress.

11 Return to a Peacetime Economy


13 Return to a Peacetime Economy
Truman’s Fair Deal Agenda A series of domestic measures that sought to further the work done by Roosevelt the raising of the legal minimum wage long-range environmental and public works planning civil rights

14 Return to a Peacetime Economy
Election of 1952 With the U.S. at war in Korea (1950), Truman’s Fair Deal faded, as did his approval rating. Truman chose not to run for re-election.

15 Return to a Peacetime Economy
Election of 1952 Democrats chose Adlai Stevenson. Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower, hero of the D-Day Invasion, was the republican candidate slogan, “It’s time for a change!” {Hey students, sound familiar?}

16 Return to a Peacetime Economy
The Eisenhower Years Federal Highway Act 10-year project 40,000 miles of interstate highways Cost $25 billion Necessary to provide more efficient travel


18 Did you know? During the 1950s, suburban neighborhoods were usually filled with people who were alike. This conformity often led to discrimination. Sometimes suburban residents refused to sell their homes to minority families.


20 The Affluent Society American Abundance Spread of Wealth
Economist John K. Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958) Spread of Wealth In 1956, for the first time, white-collar workers outnumbered blue-collar workers – people who perform physical labor in industry.


22 The Affluent Society The 1950s Family The Baby Boom
Period between 1945 and 1961 in which more than 65 million children were born. Many young couples had delayed marriage until after WWII; now ready to start family. GI benefits encouraged growth of families Television and magazines promoted large families.

23 M/C 2-1

24 Discussion Question Why did the American birthrate explode after World War II? Many young couples had delayed marriage until after the war and were now ready to marry and begin a family. Other factors in this boom were the GI benefits that encouraged the growth of families, and television and magazines promoting pregnancy and large families.

25 The Affluent Society Technology Breakthroughs Computers
ENIAC developed by U.S. Army to make military calculations. UNIVAC could handle business data and led to the computer revolution.


27 The Affluent Society Technology Breakthroughs Medicine
Polio epidemic swept the nation in the 1940s and 1950s. Jonas Salk developed the first injectable polio vaccines.


29 Did you know? As American culture changed during the 1950s, new words and terms emerged, including hot rod, junk mail, cool, rock ‘n’ roll, and carry-out.


31 Popular Culture of the 1950s
New Mass Media In 1946 there were 8,000 television sets in the U.S.; this increased to 40 million by 1957.


33 Twenty-One A young professor from a prominent family, Charles Van Doren became famous in the late 1950s for correctly answering questions on the television quiz show “Twenty-One.” He later confessed to having cheated on the show. About the same time contestants from other quiz shows publicly disclosed the games were rigged by their producers and sponsors to attract larger audiences. In the photograph, left to right: Van Doren, an assistant, host Jack Barry, and challenging contestant Herbert Stempel.

34 Popular Culture of the 1950s
Moviemakers used gimmicks such as 3-D glasses and cinemascope to gain back audiences. Radio change formats to include recorded music, news, talk shows, weather, public-service programming, and shows for specific audiences.

35 Discussion Question What types of television shows were Americans watching in the 1950s? Television shows fell into the categories of comedy, action and adventure, variety-style entertainment, and quiz shows. Action shows like Gunsmoke and Dragnet were also hugely popular.



38 Popular Culture of the 1950s
New Youth Culture Young Americans rebelled against the conformist ideals of adult society. Looked to controversial styles in music and literature.

39 Popular Culture of the 1950s
New Youth Culture Rock ‘n’ Roll – Merged Rhythm & Blues, Country & Western, the electric guitar, and lyrics on teenage love. Radio personality Alan Freed Asked his manager to play African American rhythm and blues on radio. coined the term “Rock ‘n’ Roll. Soon white artists were copying the sound forming a new style of music called rock ‘n’ roll.

40 Popular Culture of the 1950s
Elvis Presley – “the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” In 1956, popular with teens, hated by parents. Several cities banned rock ‘n’ roll. The generation gap – cultural separation between children and parents.

41 Popular Culture of the 1950s
African American Entertainers Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Little Richard African American women’s groups included the Crystals, Chiffons, and the Shirelles.

42 Some Things Never Change!


44 Did you know? In 1946 Dr. Benjamin Spock published Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. This guidebook for raising children sold nearly 10 million copies during the 1950s. In the book, Spock advised parents not to spank or scold their children. He recommended that parents hold family meetings to give their children an opportunity to express their feelings and ideas.

45 The Other Side of American Life
Poverty Amidst Prosperity In the 1950s, 1 in 5 Americans lived below the poverty line. With Urban Renewal programs, government tried to improve conditions by tearing down slums and building high-rise projects.

46 The Other Side of American Life
Poverty Amidst Prosperity (cont.) In 1958, African American salaries were only 51% of what whites earned. Bracero program brought 5 million Mexican immigrants to the U.S. to help with agriculture. Native Americans were among the poorest in the nation. Many impoverished families of Appalacia left in search of a better way of life.

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48 End of Slide Show

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