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notes for 11/11/15

by: Elizabeth Ronecker

notes for 11/11/15 HIST 1200 (History, Steven Watts, Survey of American History Since 1865)

Elizabeth Ronecker
GPA 3.5

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watched a film on 11/9/15 so there are only notes for one day. Topic-suburbia in the 1950s
Survey of American History Since 1865
Steven Watts
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth Ronecker on Wednesday November 11, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 1200 (History, Steven Watts, Survey of American History Since 1865) at University of Missouri - Columbia taught by Steven Watts in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 50 views. For similar materials see Survey of American History Since 1865 in History at University of Missouri - Columbia.

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Date Created: 11/11/15
History  1200   Professor  Watts     Notes  for  November  11,  2015     Suburban  Sprawl:  society  and  sensibility  in  the  1950s   Terms-­‐   Asphyxiation,   GI   Bill,   ITT,   the   interstate   highway   act,   AFL-­‐CIO,   Suburban   Ideal,  Baby  Boom,  Benjamin  Spock-­‐  “Baby  and  Child  Care”,  “Leave  it  to  Beaver”,   Westerns,  “I  Love  Lucy”,  Dwight  McDonald,  Elvis  Presley,  Beat  Generation     • America  was  defending  the  ‘good  life’  during  the  cold  war   • In   the   1950s,   there   is   a   sense   if   conformity-­‐>   materialism,   consumerism,   family  life   • Beneath  the  conformity  there  is  an  uneasiness  with  the  saintly  middle  class;   thought  to  be  asphyxiation-­‐that  they  can’t  breathe  and  are  being  smothered   by  the  ideals   I. A  plenty  of  people   a. One  word  used  a  lot  to  describe  life-­‐>  abundance   i. After  WWII,  average  American  seemed  to  have  many  material   goods;  just  about  anything  they  could  want   ii. Went  far  down  the  social  structure   iii. Stereotypes   1. Pictures  of  comfortable  homes  in  the  suburbs   2. Big  cars   3. Images  of  BBQ  in  backyards,  sock  hops,  PTA  meetings,   etc.   b. Behind  the  stereotypes,  real  things  were  happening  to  push  the  ideas   forward   i. GI  Bill-­‐  passed  in  1944;  government  anticipated  problems  that   Veterans  were  coming  home  and  realized  that  it  could  cause   some  social  issues   1. Safety  net  for  veterans   2. Employment  compensation;  gave  unemployment  while   Vets  tried  to  find  jobs;  since  it  put  pressure  on  the  job   market   3. Medical  care-­‐>  VA  hospitals   4. Subsides  to  go  to  college;  serviceman  flocked  to   campuses   5. *Big  thing  that  the  bill  did  was  provide  guaranteed   mortgages  to  buy  a  house;  which  boosted  housing   developments   ii. Interstate  Highway  act-­‐1956;  there  were  2  lane  highways   before  this  act   1. Government  provided  millions  of  dollars  to  create  four   lane  highways   2. Encouraged  the  auto-­‐industry  to  create  cars  that  could   handle  the  new  highways-­‐>  go  longer  distances  and  go   faster   3. Encouraged  trucking;  main  form  of  commerce;  the   railroad  suffered  in  return   4. Encouraged  new  part  of  American  economy-­‐>  service;   fast  food,  gas  stations   5. Encouraged  new  part  of  American  life-­‐>  vacations  and   leisure;  easier  to  travel   iii. See  the  consolidation  of  big  business   1. American  companies  are  merging  in  large  corporations   2. ITT-­‐international  telephone  and  telegraphs;  enters   consolidation  trend   a. They  buy  other  communication  companies,  a   bakery,  suburban  realtor  businesses,  hotels,   insurance  companies   b. Conglomerate;  provide  jobs  and  push  for  larger   economic  abundance   3. Economy  starts  to  depend  on  corporations   4. Consolidation  of  big  labor   a. Unions;  for  counter  weight  against  big  business   b. Merger  of  AFL-­‐CIO-­‐   i. AFL  originally  organized  skill  workers  in   industry  jobs   ii. CIO  originally  organized  unskilled   workers  in  industry  jobs   iii. They  were  competitive  with  each  other   but  they  could  fight  big  business  if   merged  together   iv. Together  they  gained  more  members  and   were  able  to  negotiate  raises,  cost  of   living  adjustments,  etc.   c. Americans  were  people  of  plenty  by  there  comfortable  standard  of   living  for  the  average  American   II. American  Families   a. Atmosphere  of  abundance  is  enjoyed  in  the  American  family;  cite   where  abundance  is  experienced   b. Family  is  where  all  this  took  place   c. Suburban  Ideal-­‐  huge  trend  in  the  1950s   i. Middle  class  and  working  class  are  leaving  urban  and  moving   to  suburban   ii. Wanted  to  leave  the  hustle  and  bustle,  dirty  city   iii. They  moved  to  the  split-­‐level  houses,  green  grass,  fences   iv. Levittown-­‐early  suburban  development;  set  the  stage  for  other   suburban  developments   v. ‘Americans  had  a  love  affair  with  a  lawnmower’   vi. People  wanted  to  recapture  some  traditions  of  rural  life-­‐>   fresh  air,  nature   vii. The  suburbs  were  a  place  of  consumerism;  where  the  material   abundance  was  displayed   viii. Abstract  idea  of  privacy;  when  people  came  home,  they  could   have  privacy;  be  away  from  society   ix. Interstate  highways  made  suburbs  easier  to  reach   d. Baby  Boom-­‐  striking  demographic;  1945-­‐1959;  families  growing     i. Happens  in  the  aftermath  of  WWII   ii. Young  men  and  women  reunited   iii. Generation  raised  in  abundance;  the  way  life  is  expected  to  be;   reinforcement  of  consumerism   e. Gender  roles  in  the  1950s   i. Men-­‐  white  collar  worker;  big  corporation;  professional;  team   player;  “man  in  the  gray  flannel  suit”,  provides  for  family   ii. Women-­‐  house  wife  and  mother;  new  emphasis  on  women   directing  family  life;  idealized   f. Dr.  Spock’s  Baby  and  Child  Care-­‐  published  in  1946;  there  was  not  a   big  expectation  to  sell;  but  exploded  onto  the  bestseller  even  into  the   1960s   i. One  of  the  best  sellers  in  history   ii. Popular  because  it  intersected  with  the  baby  boom;  women   were  separated  from  their  mothers  and  aunts  who  would   normally  help  with  children   iii. Bible  to  women  on  how  to  care  for  children   iv. Social  message  that  women  should  put  children  1   st v. Social  message  of  the  correct  way  to  raise  kids  is  encourage  the   good;  positive  reinforcement   vi. Instant  gratification  fueled  this  and  thus  fuels  consumerism   III. TV  Culture   a. Near  perfect  representation  of  the  ideals     b. By  1950s,  4  million  households  had  TVs   c. Underlines  the  privacy-­‐>  stay  at  home  to  watch     d. Family  dimension;  notion  that  television  is  for  family   e. Conformity  of  American  family;  homogenized   f. 3  networks-­‐  CBS,  NBC,  ABC;  people  were  seeing  all  the  same  things   i. Produces  homogenized  images   g. Advertisement-­‐>  fuel  of  broadcasting     h. Values  of  the  1950s   i. Sports  shows-­‐  team  work  like  the  man  in  the  gray  flannel  suit   ii. Variety  shows-­‐  cult  of  personality   iii. Family  shows-­‐  consumer  suburban  life   i. “Leave  it  to  Beaver”-­‐suburban  life;  parents  gently  pushing  them  in  the   right  direction;  family  show   j. Westerns-­‐  (Gunsmoke,  Broken  Arrow)  showed  individualism   k. “I  Love  Lucy”-­‐shows  ethnic  tension;  Lucy  is  Irish-­‐  makes  fun  and  has   stereotype  of  hot  blooded  Latino   IV. Dissenting  Voices   a. Dwight  McDonald-­‐  writes  about  the  threatening  ooze  of  the  middle   class   b. Elvis  Presley-­‐  rock  ‘n’  roll  icon;  music  that  many  people  didn’t  like;   thought  it  was  giving  bad  ideas  to  young  people   c. Beat  generation-­‐  people  who  dropped  out  of  school;  were  seen  in   coffee  houses  with  poetry;  far  out  jazz;  promiscuous   d. James  dean-­‐  actor;  didn’t  follow  stereotypes;  smoked  and  drank   e. Allow  of  these  people  were  against  society      


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