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Change is an inevitable part of life. With new ideas, opinions, and morals came a new way of life. No time period in American history felt a more drastic change than the 1920s. The Roaring Twenties embraced a new culture that focused on enjoyment, art and innovations. The style of clothing, especially for women, went completely against that of the previous generation. Many people were offended by and opposed to the new style of the ‘20s which was epitomized by the flapper. 4 Women’s clothing, which was loose fitting, complimented their efforts to make their chests appear flatter. Cloche style hats were very popular and were tight around the head before flipping out at the base of the neck. 6 Year by year, the length of skirts and dresses grew noticeable shorter until it reached halfway up the knee. 7 Short, flowing skirts made dancing to the new forms of music easier. Music and dance became an important aspect in the lives of Americans. The Harlem Renaissance embraced the new American music, Jazz. Harlem came with a culture all its own. 8 Dances such as the Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Charleston, and Lindy Hop were performed to jazz, blues, and ragtime music. These quick, energetic dances were seen as scandalous to older generations because of the physical contact they involved. From school to church, dance was involved in every part of life. 10 Entertainment fostered a sense of happiness in Americans after World War I. Movies and sports were two of the most popular pastimes during the 1920s. Silent films could be understood by all and brought happiness and laughter to their viewers. In 1923 the first “talkie” was created which eventually replaced the silent film. 14 Sportswere enjoyed not only by those who played them but also by those who watched.
Among the popular sports of football, boxing, tennis, and golf, baseball remained the fan favorite. In 1927 Babe Ruth hit his record 60 home runs. Thanks to him and others like him, such as Lou Gehrig, baseball became America’s sport. 15 Interestin activities created a sense of unity in Americans. Many fads became the obsession of many Americans. Crossword puzzles became very popular. People would work on them whenever they had a free moment, and soon, contests were being held to see who could complete the puzzles the fastest. Mah-Jongg, and ancient Chinese game, became a national obsession.
It replaced the game of bridge, and clubs, even, were opened for players. Many Americans participated in stunts. Flagpole sitters literally sat on flag poles to gain money or attention. Barnstormers performed stunts in airplanes while wing-walkers performed their own tricks on the plane’s wings. 16 Thesecrazes swept across the nation during the 1920s. Many innovations came about during the Roaring Twenties. Henry Ford’s affordable automobile redefined Americans’ way of life. 17 Peoplecould travel farther and faster with a car than with a horse.
Vacationing became popular which caused motels and service stations to be established along popular routes. 18 In1927 Ford introduced the Model A which quickly became the most popular car in America. The new innovations of the 1920s were accompanied by new ways of thinking. New medical and scientific discoveries were made during this time. In 1920, Frederick Banting created insulin to treat diabetes. It was the first hope patients with diabetes had of living a normal life, and it even help some of those near deathmake miraculous recoveries.
In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered the possibilities of penicillin in fighting bacteria. It wouldn’t be until several years later, however, that it would be used to save lives. 19 Theconflict between evolution and creation caused much tension. In 1925, John Scopes taught the theory of evolution to his class and was arrested. Eventually, evolution was taught in most science classes. 20 These new ways of thinking changed life in American. The Roaring Twenties is characterized as a positive and optimistic time,however, it did have its negatives.
With the manufacture of alcohol made illegal by Prohibition, many people turned to speakeasies and bootlegging to get their alcohol. 21 Prohibition was supposed to lower the crime rate, but more corruption and organized crime emerged. 22 The murder rate in 118 cities was higher that one in every 100,000 in 1927. 23 Despite this problem, the positives of the Roaring Twenties outweigh the negatives. The Roaring Twenties was characterized by a lifestyle of enjoyment, art, and innovations. The 1920s focused on optimism.
After World War I, Americans sought happiness in music, dancing, movies, and sports. New inventions made life easier, and all appeared well. But every up has its down, and the Roaring Twenties was no exception. Notes Feinstein, Stephen. The 1920s. (Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc. , 2001), 26 Scott, Robert. “The Roaring Twenties: A Historical Snapshot of Life in the 1920s”. available from http://www. 1920-1930. com; Internet; accessed 15 April 2009. Feinstein, The_ 1920s, _25. Langley, Susan. Roaring ‘20s Fashion: Jazz. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 2005), 95. Laubner, Fashions of the Roaring ‘20s, 47. Kallen, Stuart A. The Harlem Jazz Era. (Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books. 2004), 24. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Feinstein, The_ 1920s_, 7. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Feinstein, The_ 1920s. _ 32. Feinstein, The_ 1920s. _21. Feinstein, The_ 1920s. _9. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Scott, “The Roaring Twenties”. Feinstein, The_ 1920s. _11.
Frederick Hoffman, “The Spectator,” The Literary Digest, (2 July 1927). Bibliography Feinstein, Stephen. The 1920s. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc. , 2001. Kallen, Stuart A. The Harlem Jazz Era. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books. 2004. Langley, Susan. Roaring ‘20s Fashion: Jazz. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 2005. Laubner, Ellie. Fashions of the Roaring ‘20s. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 1996. Scott, Robert. “The Roaring Twenties: A Historical Snapshot of Life in the 1920s,” Available from http://www. 1920-1930. com. Internet; accessed 15 April 2009.
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