Popular in American History Since 1865
Popular in History
This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Tuesday April 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 2112 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Rohrer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see American History Since 1865 in History at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 04/05/16
1950’s Culture • Historically important decade • Sets stage for next daces in Cold War, social movements, etc. • Myths: a popular conception about a person/place/thing/event that idealizes reality and glorifies culture • 1950’s Pop Culture o What we think of o Slinkys, Hula-hoops, Elvis § Preachers dislike racy practices (like Elvis) o Wedding night virgin o Ranch style house § Big picture window in living room to project image of happiness to neighbors • Role of Women o June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver § Corny show about a family in a typical middle class American town in the 1950’s § June: slim, well-dressed, high heels, hair done, makeup, never raises her voice, never makes sarcastic comments, meal on table by 6, cheerleader for family, always agrees with and pleases husband § Idealized image, not necessarily the reality o Lassie, Denice the Menace, etc. § All told women the paradise waiting for them – most act in certain way § Embodies myth – told reality should be like this to make a happy housewife: • Women are happy as homemakers and mothers o Enjoy volunteering, cleaning, being a mother, cooking o Always dressed well in dresses, stockings, make up , heels, hair done • Women enjoyed stable, blissful, subordinate married lives o Always adore husband o Devoted sexually to him o Dreams are less important than husband’s o Low divorce rate § internalized we were failures if marriage dissolved • Married women had no desire to work – in salaried position – outside the home o No desire to work in salaried positions o Fulfilled in house o No recognition needed outside o Anti-capitalist o Pro-American values • To what extent did these realities play out? • Advertising demonstrated these women all over o Realities of 1950’s American Women § Women = More racially, ethically, politically, etc. diverse • Millions of women living this way o Were they happy? • Large population not comfortable with gender roles o Marital harmony only made possible by women’s compromise and low expectations o Had to adapt to his needs and forget about her own goals o 15% middle class women taking tranquilizers to deal with husbands and needs of this lifestyle § did not talk about drugs until 70’s o rejected June Cleaver model • No single women can highlight the perfect women o Political activists o Community organizers o Communists o Immigrants o Victims of sexual abuse o Unwed mothers o Women with abortions o Old unwed maids o Lesbians o Bohemians • Messages sent to women were different from what society was giving them • 1930’s Eve of WWII: told not to work outside of home • 1940’s: no job women couldn’t do o pressured to work outside of home § Rosy the Riveter § Defense planner § Battlefield nurse • 1945 End of WWII: moved back to home o reality changed again when men return o forced out of jobs for next 15 years o women internalize that their new job was to obey husband again o many challenge and rock the boat instead of the cradle • § Millions of women of all classes worked outside of home • By choice • By need for money • Government, burses, activists, secretaries, maids, teachers, farmers, family business, etc. • Many balanced • Believed becoming a mother did not disallow them from holding jobs • Even middle class women wanted jobs • American Economic Prosperity o American prosperity – more of a reality than a myth § Individuals are wealthier than they have ever before § Cleaver home = idealized home • 2 story home on a respectable suburban street, white picket fence, perfect law, garage with tools, new appliances, carpeted floors (status symbol), laundry room, separate dining room, fireplace, television in bedroom (2 televisions is unheard of) • message of the “Cleaver Setup” • economic security, respectability and success is demonstrated through your home § broad middle class • majority of population is in the middle class (60%) • Soaring Gross National Product • Soaring Per Capita Income o 1950: $4,000 - $9,000 per year = middle class o 2010: $45,000 - $80,000 per year = middle class • Birth of “subdivisions” – suburban communities o Ex. Levittown in NY (1946) – first subdivision in NY right after WWII o Reasons for Soaring § Strong economic growth • secure and comfortable • per capita income drastically rising § Consumer Spending • Americans eagerly bough consumer goods o Washing machines o Cars and appliances, homes are more available • More goods needed for baby boom o Men return for war and start families o In need of cars (station wagons for families), cradles, toys, larger homes, etc. § Job Growth • Federal government spending increases • Consumer demand increases o Industries expand production o Jobs in manufacturing, sales, service sector, marketing o Department of defense important o As Cold War deepens, we pour money into defense § = more jobs o stimulate economy § Serviceman’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill) • 1944 (before war ends) • Offers 16 million veterans job training and education at the college level o 2.5 millions veterans go to school • Unemployment compensation for veterans looking for jobs • Low interest loans so veterans can buy houses, farms, and small businesses o 1.5 million had bought houses o Not all Americans living comfortable lives § Deepening poverty for Americans in lowest quintile (rural and inner- city especially) • Poverty for millions • Gap between rich and poor widens even more • >20% live below poverty line • remote rural areas and urban areas in slums out of sight from middle class • mostly white, some African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans • Urban areas o Crowded and dirty o Demographic changes – middle class move to the suburbs § White Flight phenomenon • Cities drained of white middle class • Cities had hard time raising taxes needed for programs and to fix the urban areas o Empty, dirty, poor o Lack of solid schools • Urban core: African Americans from great migration, Native Americans, Latinos are unsuccessful finding work in rural areas • How the Cold War affected Americans’ Daily Lives o Not a trivial deal in American lives o Threat of Nuclear Annihilation – not a myth § All adult Americans aware of threats § Scares of hydrogen bombs and nuclear warfare § Constant fear o Hollywood = Providing a reassuring and safe alternative to the gloom and doom § World without draft, bombs, cold war, etc. – safe § Cleavers • Don’t talk about war/nuclear bombs • No one displayed in military • Not afraid of draft • No bomb shelters • No bomb drills • Small conflict in family, but nothing major centered around war o How Americans’ Faced Cold War Realities § Sharply rising church membership • Membership of church rose – not just those attending masses • 64.5 million in 1940 à 114.5 million in 1950 • weekly basis members are involved in church • offered an alternative to the gloom and doom of war o promised eternal life § beyond nuclear annihilation § Military Industrial Complex • Big deal in the 1950’s • The US’s military establishment department of defense and unofficially tied companies producing needed materials o Ex. General Dynamics o Ex. Lockheed Martin • Millions of jobs in military and private industries • Affect taxpayers • 50% of tax revenue goes toward military preparedness during Cold War § Bomb shelters and atomic bomb drills • Stocked with cots, water, canned foods, medicines, first aid kits, flashlights, clothes, bedding • Drills – sit and cover face • Neither would make much of a difference but it was hopeful § Real interest in math and science education • Students exposed to higher level math after WWII (trigonometry and calculus) which would prepare them for careers related to fighting the Cold War o jobs related to the military industrial complex § engineering, designing weapons, tanks, ships, airplanes o Slide rules: used primarily for multiplication and division, also for function such as roots, logarithms, and trig • Emerging space program (NASA) o National Defense Education Act of 1958 § Response to Soviet launching of Sputnik § Space Race begins o College Scholarships and financial assistance o Rise of physics, calculus, biology, chemistry o Engineers, mathematicians, etc. o Tanks, space ships, weaponry, etc. • Nuclear Industry