History Of The 1920's Term Paper


¶ … history of the 1920's, a colorful era of tycoons, gangsters, bohemians and inventors. Areas covered include the arts, news and politics, science and humanities, business and industry, society fads and sports. The bibliography includes fives sources, with five quotations from secondary sources, and footnotes. The 1920's are commonly referred to as the 'Roaring Twenties', an appropriate title for a decade that did indeed roar out of the Victorian Era. Gone were the corsets and up went the skirt hems as flapper girls bared their legs and speakeasies with bathtub gin dominated the nightlife.

Tycoons became America's royalties while bohemian lifestyles bore the twentieth century's most influential era of art and literature. Inventions brought us into the modern age of convenience and history making events.

The twenties began with a serious but short-lived post-war recession, following World War 1.

Yet, by the mid-twenties, business and industry had created legends that have become household names J.C. Penny (the department store chain), William Proctor of Proctor and Gamble, Howard Hughs, Charles Merrill, George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, William Randolf Hearst, Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tires), Henry Ford (Ford Motor Co.), Clarence Birdseye (Birdseye frozen foods), Charles Walgreen (Walgreen's Drug Store), and Sir Thomas Lipton (Lipton Tea Co.).

With the industry boom came the 'installment plan', allowing customers to buy on credit, thus causing goods consumption to climb. The business world looked safe and stock speculation gave the market record highs. But speculative stock purchases in an unregulated market allowed for unethical business practices, and by October 29,1929, the market hit bottom and fortunes were lost overnight. This day is called 'Black Tuesday'.

The twenties saw the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, Josef Stalin in Russia, Hirohito in Japan, Benito Mussolini in Italy, as Mohandas Gandhi led India in a 'non-violent' war against English colonialism. In the U.S., Republican administrations dominated the political scene with Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

Women's issues were at the forefront in the 1920's. The Women's Suffragettes gained women the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment.

Margaret Sanger formed the American Birth Control League and held the First American Birth Control Conference in New York City. A beauty pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey would soon become the Miss America...


The twenties were a decade of discovery in science. Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect. Hermann Rorschach introduced his inkblot test (now referred to as the Rorschach Test) for studying human personality.

Albert Calmete and Camille Guerin developed a tuberculosis vaccine, and Canadian doctors were the first to extract insulin from the human pancreas as potential diabetes treatment. In Switzerland, Carl Jung published one of his most influential works, Psychological Types, which introduced such concepts as the introvert and extrovert personalities.

Other science highlights were the discovery of Vitamin C, the theory of gene centers, quantum mechanics, penicillin, cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere, and the invention of the electron microscope.

Sports legends of the twenties reads like a who's who: Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Rogers Hornsby, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, Helen Wills, Jack Dempsey, and Johnny Weissmuller.

But the Sultan of Swat was perhaps the most endearing. Jimmy Cannon said, "It is part of our national history that all boys dream of being Babe Ruth before they are anyone else."

The arts, nurtured by bohemian lifestyles, flourished during the decade, producing some of the most influential talents of the 20th Century such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, DH Lawrence, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, Eugene O'Neill, Aldous Huxley, Stephen Vincent Benet, and Pablo Picasso.

Dashiell Hammett made the tough guy detective novels famous with lines like, "I found three bodies in there before I quit smoking."

And Isadora Duncan, created the free-form interpretive dance.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said of the twenties, "The parties were bigger…the pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser."

Women smoked, drank, spoke freely, wore makeup and bared their legs in short skimpy dresses. "Fashion kissed the corset goodbye. The "ironing board" look prevailed, and girls with impressive bosoms bound them to appear flat-chested and waif-like."

They were called 'flappers.' The youth freely discussed sex and Trojan condoms first appeared. Due to Prohibition, the rich and commoners rubbed elbows in speakeasies with the likes of Al Copone, drinking bootleg liquor, and listening…

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