The Jazz Age

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The Jazz Age: 

The Jazz Age Society in the 1920s Mass Media in the Jazz Age Cultural Conflicts

The Jazz Age: 

The Jazz Age The 1920s were a time of rapid social change in which many people – particularly women – adopted new lifestyles and attitudes.

Setting the Stage: 

Setting the Stage 1880s: Industrialization and immigration. WWI accelerated urbanization and what happened to men in the war made the young question traditional values.

The Flapper: 

The Flapper Breezy, slangy, and informal in manner; slim and boyish in form; covered in silk and fur that clung to her as close as onion skin; with vivid red cheeks and lips, plucked eyebrows and close-fitting helmet of hair; gay, plucky and confident.

The Flapper: 

The Flapper Wore shorter dresses than their mothers. (9-inch hemline for mom) Short hair and hats to show off short hair Bobbed hair Wore make up Drank and smoked in public

The Flapper: 

The Flapper Not many women were full flappers. But changes were happening. Parents didn’t like it!

Women Working and Voting: 

Women Working and Voting More women chose flapper hair and clothes because they were simpler for the working girl. Convenience

Women working in the 1920s: 

Women working in the 1920s 15% of women were professionals 20% had clerical jobs By 1930 29% of the workforce was women.

Women working in the 1920s: 

Women working in the 1920s BUT Business was prejudiced against women. Seldom trained women for jobs beyond entry level Did not pay same wage as men. Married or pregnant often meant you were fired.

Women and the Vote: 

Women and the Vote 1920 – women were allowed to vote. 1920 only 35% of the women eligible to vote – did vote. By 1928 145 women in state legislatures. Jeanette Rankin – first woman congresswoman. From Montana


TRIVIA: In Nebraska the first woman in the legislature was NELL KRAUSE (1946) First woman mayor was Mrs. Arabelle Hanna of Superior (1956 –1964)

Americans on the Move: 

Americans on the Move Demographics: Statistics that describe a population. Race Income

Americans on the move: 

Americans on the move 1920: First time in American history that there were more people living in cities than on farms.

Americans on the Move: 

Americans on the Move 1920s: Farming was not profitable. 6 million farmers or their children left the farms for the cities.

People coming to the cities: 

People coming to the cities Realization that education was important. 1920: 2.2 million had high school diplomas 1930:4.4 million Rural education often ended at 8th grade for farm children.

Rural v. Urban: 

Rural v. Urban Rural Americans didn’t like the flappers and thought the cities were dangerous places. Wanted to preserve their “traditional” life.

African Americans in the North: 

African Americans in the North Jim Crow laws in the South limited life for African Americans. Lack of education Lack of housing Lack of jobs Lynching

African Americans Move North: 

African Americans Move North 1865: 93% of African Americans lived in the South. 1930: 80% BUT Jobs weren’t much better in the North Racial hatred in North Women often worked as low-paid domestics.

Other Migrations: 

Other Migrations 1920s: Laws against immigrants from: China Japan Eastern Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc) Southern Europe (Italy and Greece)

Other Migrations: 

Other Migrations Immigrants from Mexico to fill low pay jobs. Most worked farms in California and ranches in Texas. migrants to cities developed BARRIOS – Spanish speaking neighborhoods. LA: Mexican barrio NYC: Puerto Rican barrio

Growth of Suburbs: 

Growth of Suburbs Electric trolley cars and buses got people from jobs in the city to suburbs quickly and cheaply.


TRIVIA Lincoln’s bike paths are the old trolley car routes. Notice walks up to houses from the path.

American Heroes: 

American Heroes Charles Lindbergh Lucky Lindy May 20, 1927: First man to fly non-stop New York to Paris. 33 ½ hours THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS – plane Won $25,000

Charles Lindbergh: 

Charles Lindbergh 1902-1974 Learned to fly in Lincoln, NE! Was even more respected for his modesty about his fame.

Charles Lindbergh: 

Charles Lindbergh Made other flights surveying and advising airlines. Tragedy in his life. Kidnapping and murder of his firstborn son. Seen as being pro-Hitler when WWII began.

Amelia Earhart: 

Amelia Earhart 1928 – first woman to cross the Atlantic in a plane. 1932 – first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. First to fly from Hawaii to California.

Amelia Earhart: 

Amelia Earhart 1937 – was on a journey to be the first to circumnavigate the world in a plane. Disappeared over the Pacific. Mystery


SPORTS HEROES OF THE 1920s Radio, newsreels, and more sports reporting made sports BIG business. Jack Dempsey 1921 – world heavyweight champion boxer.

Sports Heroes of the 1920s: 

Sports Heroes of the 1920s Jim Thorpe Won gold medals in the Olympics in the decathlon and the pentathlon. Played professional baseball Played professional football First president of the NFL

The Sultan of Swat: 

The Sultan of Swat George Herman “Babe” Ruth Between playing for the Yanks and the Sox – 714 homeruns. Unbroken record for 40 years.

Women Athletes: 

Women Athletes Gertrude Ederle – Olympic swimmer 1924. First woman to swim the 35 miles of the English Channel Beat the men’s record by 2 hours.

Women Athletes: 

Women Athletes Hazel Wightman Helen Wills Olympic and Wimbledon tennis stars.

Amateur Athletics: 

Amateur Athletics 1920s more people were playing sports. Better transportation More leisure time Golf, tennis, swimming

Can you answer?: 

Can you answer? How did the flapper symbolize change for women in the 1920s? What conditions brought about the demographic shifts of the 1920s? How did a barrio develop in Los Angeles in the 1920s?

Mass Media and the Jazz Age: 

Mass Media and the Jazz Age The founding of Hollywood Drew film makers to the area in 1900. Variety of landscapes (mountains, desert, ocean) Warm climate Lighting was better Large work force from LA.

Mass Media in the Jazz Age: 

Mass Media in the Jazz Age UNTIL 1920s the US had been a collection of regional cultures. Accents differed Customs differed Entertainment differed

Mass Media and the Jazz Age: 

Mass Media and the Jazz Age Films, national newspapers and radio created the “national” culture of the country. Do you hear as many accents anymore?


Movies 1910 – 5,000 theaters in the country. 1930 – 22,500 theaters 1929 – 125 million Americans. 80 million movie tickets were sold every week.


Movies Until 1927 movies were silent. The first sound film THE JAZZ SINGER – 1927 Al Jolson Going to the “talkies” was a popular pastime.

Stars of the 1920s: 

Stars of the 1920s Greta Garbo Swedish star “I want to be alone.”

Stars of the 1920s: 

Stars of the 1920s Charlie Chaplin The Tramp movies

Stars of the 1920s: 

Stars of the 1920s Clara Bow – the first “It” girl

Stars of the 1920s: 

Stars of the 1920s Lillian Gish Delicate heroine

Stars of the 1920s: 

Stars of the 1920s Harold Lloyd Physical comedian

Newspapers and Magazines: 

Newspapers and Magazines Golden Age of newspapers. EVERY town had a newspaper. The rise of newspaper chains. Some owners had monopolies on the news in their states.


Newspapers Tabloids – more on entertainment, fashion, sports and sensational stories. The New York DAILY MIRROR “90% entertainment, 10% information – and the information without boring you.”


Newspapers More Americans began to share the same information, read the same events, and encounter the same ideas and fashions. Created a common culture.


Radio 1920 Westinghouse Electric engineer Frank Conrad put a transmitter in his garage in Pittsburgh. Read news, played music. KDKA – the FIRST American radio station.


Radio By 1922 500 radio stations across the country. National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) offered radio stations programming.

The Jazz Age: 

The Jazz Age The radio audience and the African American migration to the cities made jazz popular. Improvisation of music Syncopation – offbeat rhythm.

The Jazz Age: 

The Jazz Age Young people were NUTS about jazz. 1929 – 60% of radio air time was playing jazz.

Heroes of Jazz: 

Heroes of Jazz Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1974) “Satchmo” and “The Gift” New Orleans to Chicago to the world. Trumpet and singing “scat”

Jazz Heroes: 

Jazz Heroes “Duke” Ellington 17 years old – played jazz in clubs in Washington DC at night and painted signs in the day. Wrote thousands of songs and had his own band.

Jazz Clubs and Dance Halls: 

Jazz Clubs and Dance Halls To hear the “real” jazz – NYC and the neighborhood of Harlem. 500 jazz clubs Cotton Club the most famous BUT Most white Americans did not want to hear jazz.

Jazz Clubs: 

Jazz Clubs Artie Shaw – First to use black musicians for white audiences. Benny Goodman – First to take jazz to white America. SWING First racial mixed band.

Jazz Influences on Art: 

Jazz Influences on Art Artists were showing the rougher side of life. Edward Hopper


Art Georgia O’Keefe turned to natural objects – flowers, bones, landscapes.

Literature in the 1920s: 

Literature in the 1920s Upton Sinclair Attacked American society. THE JUNGLE, ELMER GANTRY, MAIN STREET Eugene O’Neill Dark tragedies of everyday American life. A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT

Literature in the 1920s: The Lost Generation: 

Literature in the 1920s: The Lost Generation Many writers, artists, and musicians went to Europe and most ended up in Paris Cheap living Racial tolerance Intellectual tolerance

The Lost Generation: 

The Lost Generation F. Scott Fitzgerald Wife Zelda THE GREAT GATSBY THE SUN ALSO RISES Showed the people of the jazz age – including their self-centered and shallow ways.

The Lost Generation: 

The Lost Generation Edna St. Vincent Millay “My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends – It gives a lovely light.”

Harlem Renaissance: 

Harlem Renaissance 1914: 50,000 African Americans in Harlem. 1930: 200,000 Nora Neale Hurston THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD.

Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes: 

Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes Poet, short story writer, journalist and playwright. Joys and difficulties of being human, American and being black. See page 465 for a sample of his work.

Flapper Slang: 

Flapper Slang See page 464 for the vocabulary of the flapper. (HINT, HINT)

Questions to ponder:: 

Questions to ponder: How did the mass media help create common cultural experiences? Why are the 1920s called the Jazz Age and how did the jazz spirit affect the arts? How did the writers of the Lost Generation respond to the popular culture? What subjects did the Harlem Renaissance writers explore?

Cultural Conflicts in the 1920s: 

Cultural Conflicts in the 1920s PROHIBITION The 18th Amendment to the Constitution Made manufacturing of alcohol illegal. Most people chose to ignore it. See page 467

Goals of Prohibition: 

Goals of Prohibition Eliminate drunkenness Causing abuse of family Get rid of saloons Prostitution, gambling dens Prevent absenteeism and on-the-job accidents stemming from drunkenness

How Effective was Prohibition?: 

How Effective was Prohibition? They drank in the White House 1924 – Kansas had 95% of people obeying the law not to drink. Only 5% of New Yorkers obeyed the law. Contrast between rural and urban moral values.


Bootlegging Those that would manufacture, sell and transport liquor, beer, and wine.


Bootleggers Started from drinkers who hid flasks in the leg of their boots.


Bootleggers Stills to make alcohol Corn: grain alcohol (VERY alcoholic) and some whiskey Potatoes: vodka Rye Grain: gin and whiskey Bathtub gin


Bootleggers Canadians were making whiskey. Caribbean was making rum. Smugglers took ships out to sea, met speed boats who outran the Coast Guard to harbors where they transported the alcohol to warehouses.


Speakeasies Bars that operated illegally. To get into a speakeasy – you needed a password or be recognized by a guard. Sometimes hidden behind legit businesses.


Speakeasies Before Prohibition the whole state of Massachusetts had 1,000 saloons. AFTER Prohibition Boston alone had 4,000 speakeasies and 15,000 bootleggers.

Organized Crime : 

Organized Crime Early in Prohibition – there was competition between gangs to supply liquor to speakeasies.

Organized Crime: 

Organized Crime Territories expanded and gang warfare erupted over turf and control of the liquor. Tommy Guns Sawed off shotguns Murder on the streets

Organized Crime: 

Organized Crime Expanded into other crimes Gambling Prostitution Murder Incorporated

Organized Crime: 

Organized Crime Racketeering Bribe police and other government officials to ignore what they are doing. Gangsters forced businesses to pay a fee for “protection” If you didn’t pay …

Organized Crime: 

Organized Crime 157 bombs in 1928 Chicago!

Al Capone: 

Al Capone The most famous and brutal gangsters were in Chicago. Racketeering was EVERYWHERE Chicago and his suburb of Cicero

Alfonse “Scarface” Capone: 

Alfonse “Scarface” Capone 1899-1947 Born in NYC to Sicilian immigrants. Dropped out of school at 14. Nasty fighter reputation. Moved to Chicago in 1919.

Al Capone: 

Al Capone 200 murders are directly tied to Capone. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was also his work. With Prohibition, he made $100,000,000.

Al Capone: 

Al Capone

Al Capone: 

Al Capone For all his murders and assaults, he was eventually imprisoned for not paying taxes. Ended up at Alcatraz Prison. Released early and died of syphilis

Matters of Religion: 

Matters of Religion Rural “Values” v. City “Values” The rise of fundamentalism Concerns about science and technology were playing in life


Fundamentalism War and widespread problems of modern society caused people to question if God existed. Some scholars said the Bible was a work of fiction.


Fundamentalism Fundamentalism said God inspired the Bible so it cannot contain contradictions or errors. It was literal truth.


Fundamentalism Gained tremendous attention in the 1920s. Billy Sunday Aimee Semple McPherson “Sister Aimee” William Jennings Bryan

Evolution and the Scopes Monkey Trial: 

Evolution and the Scopes Monkey Trial Fundamentalists in Tennessee passed a law saying that evolutionary theory could not be taught in schools. 1925, high school biology teacher, John Scopes taught his students about Charles Darwin. Was arrested that day.

The Scopes Monkey Trial: 

The Scopes Monkey Trial Drama between two of the best lawyers in the nation Clarence Darrow William Jennings Bryan Mass media allowed 2 million people to listen to the trial.

The Scopes Monkey Trial: 

The Scopes Monkey Trial Dramatic moment and never done since. Darrow put Bryan on the stand to testify as an expert on the Bible. Showed flaws in some of his logic

The Scopes Monkey Trial: 

The Scopes Monkey Trial Darrow lost the case but won the point with the public. Darrow a defender of science and reason Bryan was a martyr for the cause Died days after the trial ended.

Racial Tensions: Violence Against African Americans: 

Racial Tensions: Violence Against African Americans 1919: Red Summer Race riots between white and black in Omaha, Tulsa, Washington DC and Chicago.

1919 Race Riot in Omaha: 

1919 Race Riot in Omaha "Pretty little Agnes Loebeck ... was assaulted ... by an unidentified negro at twelve O'clock last night, while she was returning to her home in company with Millard [sic] Hoffman

1919 Race Riot: 

1919 Race Riot That evening, the police took a suspect to the Loebeck home. Agnes and her boyfriend Milton Hoffman (they were later married) identified a black packinghouse worker named Will Brown as the assailant. Brown was 41 years old and suffered from acute rheumatism

1919 Race Riot of Omaha: 

1919 Race Riot of Omaha

Racial Tensions: Omaha: 

Racial Tensions: Omaha September 29, 1919

Racial Tensions: 

Racial Tensions Many in the North joined the Ku Klux Klan. Lynchings happened in the North.

Revival of the Klan: 

Revival of the Klan See page 472 for the description of why men should join the Klan. 1924 4 million members Most Kan memberships came from Indiana Prejudice against non-whites, non- Christian, non-Protestants, Jews, immigrants, etc. Didn’t leave many people to like!

Fighting Discrimination: 

Fighting Discrimination NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Worked to end lynching. No national laws – but did get a number of states to comply. 1929 – 10 lynchings in the country

Fighting Discrimination: 

Fighting Discrimination NAACP: Worked to get better voting rights for African Americans NOT much success

The Garvey Movement: 

The Garvey Movement Some African Americans frustrated by violence and discrimination dreamed of a new homeland.

The Marcus Garvey Movement: 

The Marcus Garvey Movement Banks and business investment for just African Americans. Urged a return to “Motherland Africa” to create a new country. Started “Black Pride” from prison and after he was deported to Jamaica.

W.E.B. Dubois: 

W.E.B. Dubois Didn’t think the answer was separation of the races. Also didn’t approve of Garvey’s business practices.

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