1950s PowerPoint

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1950s PowerPoint
THE 1950s:
Changes in Communication,
Transportation, and Culture
1A. Baby Boom
It seems to me that every other young housewife I see
is pregnant. -- British visitor to America, 1958.
1957 --> 1 baby born every 7 seconds
1B. Baby Boom
Dr. Benjamin Spock and
the Anderson Quintuplets
1946 --> The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
2A. Suburban Living
Levittown, L. I.:
“The American Dream”
1949 --> William Levitt produced
150 houses per week.
• 1 story high
• 12’x19’ living
• 2 bedrooms
• tiled bathroom
• garage
$7,990 or
$60/month with no
down payment.
• small backyard
• front lawn
By 1960 --> 1/3 of the U. S. population in the suburbs.
2B. Suburban Living:
The Typical TV Suburban Families
The Ozzie & Harriet Show
Leave It to
Father Knows Best
The Donna
Reed Show
3. Consumerism
All babies were potential consumers who
spearheaded a brand-new market for food, clothing,
and shelter.
-- Life Magazine (May, 1958)
1950 --> Introduction of the Diner’s Card
4. A Changing Workplace
1947-1957 --> factory workers decreased by 4.3%, eliminating
1.5 million blue-collar jobs.
By 1956 --> more white-collar than blue-collar jobs in the U. S.
Computers --> Mark I (1944);
first IBM mainframe computer
New Corporate Culture:
“The Company Man”
1956 --> Sloan Wilson’s The
Man in the Gray
Flannel Suit
5A. The Culture of the Car
Car registrations: 1945 --> 25,000,000
1960 --> 60,000,000
2-family cars doubles from 1951-1958
1959 Chevy Corvette
1958 Pink Cadillac
1956 --> Interstate Highway Act --> largest public
works project in American history!
* Cost $32 billion
* 41,000 miles of new highways built
5B. The Culture of the Car
The U. S. population was on the move in the 1950s.
NE & Mid-W (“RustBelt”)---> S & SW (“Sunbelt”)
1955 --> Disneyland opened in Southern California.
(40% of the guests came from outside
California, most by car.)
6A. Television
1946 -->
7,000 TV sets in the U. S.
1950 --> 50,000,000 TV sets in the U. S.
Television is a vast wasteland. --> Newton Minnow, Chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission, 1961
Mass Audience --> TV celebrated traditional American values:
Superman --> Truth, Justice, and the American way!
6B. Television
Davy Crockett--King of the Wild Frontier
Sheriff Matt Dillon,
The Lone Ranger (and his
faithful sidekick, Tonto):
Who is that masked
6C. Television
Family Shows --> glossy view of mostly middle-class
suburban life.
The Honeymooners
I Love Lucy
7A. Teen Culture
In the 1950s --> the word “teenager” entered the
American language.
1951 --> “ROCK ‘N ROLL”
Elvis Presley --> “The King”
7B. Teen Culture
(The “Troubled” Teen)
1951 --> Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger’s
A Catcher in the Rye
Marlon Brando in
The Wild One
James Dean in
Rebel Without a Cause
7C. Teen Culture
(The “Alienated” Teen)
The “Beat” Generation:
* Jack Kerouac --> On The Road
* Allen Ginsberg --> poem, “Howl”
* Neal Cassady
* William S. Burroughs
“Clean” Teen
8A. Religious Revival
Today in the U. S., the Christian faith is back in the
center of things.
-- Time magazine, 1954
Church membership: 1940 --> 64,000,000
1960 --> 114,000,000
Television Preachers:
1. Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen --> “Life is Worth
2. Methodist Minister Norman Vincent Peale --> The
Power of Positive Thinking
3. Reverand Billy Graham --> ecumenical message;
warned against the evils of Communism.
8B. Religious Revival
Hollywood: apex of the biblical epics.
The Robe
The Ten Commandments
Ben Hur
It’s unAmerican to be unreligious!
-- The Christian Century, 1954
9 Well-Defined Gender Roles
The ideal modern woman married, cooked and
cared for her family, and kept herself busy by
joining the local PTA and leading a troop of
Campfire Girls. She entertained guests in her
family’s suburban house and worked out on the
trampoline to keep her size 12 figure.
-- Life magazine, 1956
The ideal 1950s man was the provider, protector, and the
boss of the house.
-- Life magazine, 1955
1956 --> William H. Whyte, Jr. --> The
Organization Man
* a middle-class, white suburban
male is the ideal.
10A. Progress Through Science
 1951 -- First IBM Mainframe Computer
 1952 -- Hydrogen Bomb Test
 1953 -- DNA Structure Discovered
 1954 -- Salk Vaccine Tested
 1957 -- First U. S. Nuclear Power Plant
 1958 -- NASA Created
 1959 -- Press Conference of the first 7
American Astronauts
10B. Progress Through Science
1957 --> Russians launch SPUTNIK I
1958 --> National Defense Education Act and
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
10C. Progress Through Science
Atomic Anxieties:
* “Duck-and-Cover Generation”
Atomic Testing:
* 1946-1962 --> U. S. exploded 217 nuclear
weapons over the Pacific and in Nevada.
The 50s Come to a Close
1959 --> Nixon-Khrushchev “Kitchen Debate”
Cold War Tensions --->
<--- Technology & Affluence
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