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The Roaring Twenties



Dear Readers, Throughout this book I hope that you will gain a better understanding of the Popular Culture of the Roaring Twenties in the United States of America. To get the most out of this eBook, look closely at the pictures for they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Throughout the book there are YouTube videos to enhance your learning, just click on them to watch. Upon finishing this book there will be a short quiz for you to quiz yourself on the knowledge you have gained. Enjoy! Paige Hoeditz



American people have always been the innovators of new ways to entertain themselves. Americans have constantly craved escapes from the daily grind. The 1920s were the beginning of this lifestyle of living a life full of enjoyment. People began to share the same information and enjoy the same things bringing America closer than ever.

• Section 1 •

Radios Radios were a major catalyst in the

In 1920, a radio hobbyist living in

development of the 1920s new pop

Pennsylvania began to play records over

culture. During the 1920s the radio went

his radio. Although there were very few

from a luxury item very unknown to the

people with radios, the number was

people to a household necessity.

growing and this man started using the


radio in the same way that we think of today. In October 1920 Westinghouse Company started the first corporate radio station in the United States called KDKA. The station played music and provided news. By 1922, the United States had 570 stations broadcasting a variety of programming. National radio networks, such as National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), allowed people all over the country to listen to the same programs. The radio helped unify the United States as opposed to having country people and city folk. With the radio, Americans could now hear the same news and listen to the same music. The radio helped to create the shared culture that the majority of Americans enjoy today.


• Section 2 •

Movies Movies were another form of mass

filmmaker D.W. Griffith produced a very

entertainment that became extremely

controversial movie, The Birth of a

popular in the 1920s. In earlier years,

Nation. Although it was extremely

films were very short and simple pieces

controversial helped establish film as an

therefore the did not gain much

art form and brought a new audience.

popularity. During World War I,

The theaters were packed with people to 5

see Westerns, romances, and stories about bootlegging

Willie. Following the release of Steamboat Willie, a

gangsters. Movies in the 1920s

cartoon character movie star The Jazz Singer

were silent and

was born, Mickey Mouse. By the end of the

accompanied by words

decade, experts estimate

printed on the screen to

that Americans bought 95

narrate the story and

million movie tickets each

provide dialogue. In 1927,

week, which is quite

filmgoers flocked to the

amazing considering the

theaters to see the movie in

U.S. population was only

which everybody was talking

123 million.

about, The Jazz Singer. Filmgoers watched in awe as actor, Al Jolson moved his lips to speak, and the words “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” came from his mouth. The Jazz Singer was the

This is a short clip of The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson.

first “talkie”, or movie with sound. One year after the release of The Jazz Singer, Walt Disney released an animated film called Steamboat 6



The new popular culture brought people into the eyes of the common people. People became national heroes by being movie stars, athletes, or accomplishing anything great. In the 1920s everybody had he opportunity to be something great and be known forever for it.

• Section 1 •

Film Stars With the explosion of popular

Charlie Chaplin was one of the most

movies, came the explosion of popular

famous movie stars of the 1920s. Charlie

movie stars. The American people

Chaplin was a silent film actor. Millions

adored the film stars and felt a personal

of Americans loved Charlie Chaplin’s

connection to them.

signature character, a tramp with ragged clothes and his famous derby hat. 8

Rudolph Valentino was a silent film superstar as well. Rudolph Valentino made his name by being extremely attractive and acting in romantic films such as The Sheik. Rudolph Valentino was loved so dearly by his fans that when he died tens of thousands of women visited the funeral home. Actress Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart.” She was married to another actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Clara Bow an actress in many films became a sex symbol in the movie industry, she was nicknamed “It Girl”.


• Section 2 •

National Heroes Charles A. Lindbergh, otherwise know to

feat of a solitary man in the history of the

Americans as Lucky Lindy, became a

human race.” Lindbergh became one of

hero when he accomplished the first

the most beloved American heroes. He

transatlantic flight. With his

was very down-to-earth and humble,

accomplishment, Lindbergh achieved

which are qualities of which many

what one newspaper called “the greatest

Americans admired. The public admired 10

Charles Lindbergh so greatly that many songs were published about him and his flight. About a year after Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight, Amelia Earhart became the next hero. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Earhart went on

Amelia Earhart

to set many speed and distance records. In 1937, Earhart attempted to fly around the world, but disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and was never to be found again.

Watch this mini bio on Amelia Earhart


• Section 3 •

Sports Heroes Movie stars were not the only

radios in to broadcasts of ballgames and

national heroes in the 1920s. In the

other sporting events.

1920s, Americans became devoted to One of the most popular and

their favorite athletes. Radios played a key role in the national passion of sports.

talented athlete superstars of the 1920s

Millions of Americans would tune their

was a New York Yankees baseball player by the name of George Herman “Babe” 12

Ruth. Babe Ruth demolished home run records

The world of sports took America by storm in the

attracting many new fans to the sport.

1920s. This is a passion that is still very alive in today’s world with only gaining popularity.

In the 1920s , baseball was a segregated, therefore African American players and business leaders started their own league. Some Negro League players such as Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson are also considered to be among the best in history. Fans of many different sports now had heroes to look up to. Red Grange, also known as the “Galloping Ghost” was an exceptional college football player who later turned professional. Helen Wills, a tennis player, acquired the nickname “Little Miss Poker Face,” after winning 31 major tournaments and two Olympic gold medals. Bobby Jones, a golfer, won golf’s first Grand Slam which is acquired by winning the four major tournaments. He is still the only golfer to earn a Grand Slam for tournaments won in the same calendar year. 13



With the booming economy came lifted spirits and new artistic talents and forms of entertainment. The Roaring Twenties caused the development of a new type of music, Jazz, new works of literature, and new ways of art. the Roaring Twenties rejuvenated the creative minds of the American people.

• Section 1 •

The Jazz Age The Jazz Age is another nickname

Migration, they took their music with

given to the decade of the 1920s.


Developed in New Orleans, jazz blended Jazz was frowned upon with the

spirituals with European harmonies and West African rhythms. Then, when the

older generations of people, but was

blacks moved north during Great

adored by the younger Americans. The jazz lovers also adored the fast-paced 15

dances that went along with the music such as the Charleston, the Toddle, and the Shimmy. Jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong experimented with new sounds and rhythms to help Louis Armstrong

create this new genre of music. Louis Armstrong, a trumpet player, became famous for his solo numbers. Louis Armstrong created the concept of stepping out of the band to perform a solo number, which is still practiced by musicians today. Another prominent figure of the Jazz Age was conductor and composer Edward “Duke” Ellington. Duke Ellington’s “big band” sound blended many different instruments together in his songs. Blues music, which came from the rural South of the Mississippi Delta, also gained some national popularity during the 1920s. Blues was created as an a

What a Wonderful World

depiction of the suffering of African Americans during slavery. One of the greatest blues artists was Bessie Smith.


• Section 2 •

Writers and Artists While musicians played a major role

Harlem became a thriving

in the new culture of the 1920s, writers

community in New York City during the

and artists were also reshaping the

Great Migration when many African

familiar American culture. Many of the

Americans relocated there. Harlem

works of the Roaring Twenties are still

became the center of the Harlem

admired today. 17

Renaissance, a period of African American artistic accomplishment. The Harlem Renaissance was not the only place of artistic accomplishment. During the 1920s, the very familiar novel The Great Gatsby was wrote by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald explored the lives of the rich and explored the values of being wealthy through The Great Gatsby. During the Roaring Twenties, painters were also experimenting with new artistic styles. Edward Hopper painted images of the loneliness of modern urban life. Georgia O’Keefe was very widely known for her paintings of flowers and the Southwest. Painters were not the only people experimenting with new types of art. Architects of the 1920s developed a new style called art deco. Buildings constructed in this style had clean, sharp lines. Today art deco skyscrapers are still evident in American skylines.


• Quiz •

Click on this picture to quiz yourself on Pop Culture of the Roaring Twenties!


• Citations • Radio Image imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F %2Fhistory%2Fcharles-lindbergh %3Fprintable&h=0&w=0&sz=1&tbnid =8cJGTvVsL9ZsNM&tbnh=195&tbnw= 259&zoom=1&docid=I9vYt7THQREPu M&ei=L2t5UpeFBYr32wXk2YGYAQ&v ed=0CAEQsCU Charles Lindbergh Image of Charles Lindbergh and Spirit of St. Louis users15/misunderstoodatheart/default/ the-roaring-twenties--largeprf-1173649342.jpg The Roaring Twenties Image

Video uploads/2011/11/louis-armstrong1.jpg Louis Armstrong Image wikipedia/en/4/4e/Steamboatwillie.jpg Steamboat Willie Image uploads/2013/03/gatsby-originalcover-art.jpg The Great Gatsby Image wikipedia/commons/e/ea/ The_Jazz_Singer.gif The Jazz Singer Image wikipedia/commons/0/0e/ Louis_Armstrong_restored.jpg Louis Armstrong Image files/2011/04/babe-ruth-seattleoct.-19-1924.jpg Babe Ruth Image 5203/5318682522_ca841df60c_s.jpg NBC Image thumbs/o-MARY-PICKFORDfacebook.jpg Mary Pickford Image wikipedia/commons/0/00/ Charlie_Chaplin.jpg Charlie Chaplin Image __cb20120719062803/logopedia/ images/8/80/Kdka-logo.jpg KDKA Image full/2008/09/radio_1921_630px.jpg Image of Radio Image v=22NQuPrwbHA The Jazz Singer Video file/view/radio_1920.jpg/ 235056682/258x168/radio_1920.jpg v=9k3CeW7v9fQ Amelia Earhart 2010/03/motley1.jpg Harlem Renaissance Image AAAAAAAAAC8/ntLqGl00K80/s1600/ Jazz-on-Central-Ave-.jpg Jazz Age Image images/ harlem_hayden_jeunesse_lg.jpg Harlem Renaissance Painting image Babe Ruth


Text Book: American Anthem: Reconstruction to the Present, Holt McDougal

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