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B2 1950s Majask

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Manon Wild Dinosaur!!!! RAWRRR, Harrison Noh, Beth Gall, Jonas Lauinger





MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?



The 1950s

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Business & the Economy


In the 1950s, the US emerged as a world power by the measure of their GNP being the highest of any other country. The value of our exports exceeded the value of our imports and our goods were respected internationally for their reliability and quality. People all over the world bought things like cars, furniture and electronics from the US because of this.

With the 1950s also came reforms in labor unions. A law was passed that allowed managements to get rid of anyone they suspected to be a Communist. Another law restricted unions from becoming too powerful allowing the government the ability to take them over if necessary. During this time the government’s share in the GNP rose steadily: in 1954 its share passed 12 percent and by the time Eisenhower took office it was at 28.7 percent.

Overall, the economy at this time was very steady and safe. Peoples’ personal wealth were increasing and this caused the time period to be known as one of economic prosperity. 



Up until the 1950s it was mostly believed that “a little schooling goes a long way”, but as the times changed, parents realized that their children would need an adequate education to make it in the work force. As the baby-boomer generation became of school age, enrollments increased by 30 percent over the course of the decade.

The biggest event in education during this era was the desegregation of the publics school system. It started with Brown vs. Board of Education which declared that segregation was unconstitutional in schools and also prompted measures that would help put an end to discrimination in other public institutions as well as schools. Before this, blacks had to live with sending their children to poorly funded schools. Now, they could demand that their children go to the same institutions as the white children. This process was very slow as schools closed and a lot of white people did as much as they could to keep their schools segregated. It took almost 20 years to fully integrate the school systems.  


During the 1950s, American fashion branched away from the European “haute couture”.  In this decade the styles were focused mainly on the youth and very simplified. Some boys chose a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt with the aim of resembling stars like James Dean and Marlon Brando. Other boys went for the clean-cut look of short hair, trousers, and colored sweaters. Girls wore tight sweaters and poodle skirts (full skirts with poodles embroidered on them), bobby socks and saddle shoes. Women were fond of form-fitting dresses that emphasized their figure and a lot of makeup. Men took up the “corporate uniform”: a grey suit with a white shirt and tie. This look was so common that it was considered the symbol for corporate conformity.  During this time period the loafer, a slip on leather shoe, came into favor.  These fashions contributed to a national identity that separated us from Europe in a way we never had been before. 

  Women's Fashion                                      Men's Fashion                                Girl's Fashion


Film and theater

With the invention of the TV, the movie industry had to step up its game to be able to compete. During this time period Hollywood made fewer movies, but the productions were bigger and offered a type of entertainment that TV could not. These films featured magnificent sets, extravagant costumes, and huge casts.

During this time period, freed from all of the production codes that dictated “moral content”, movie makers explored more daring topics. There were also many different genres of movies to choose from; Alfred Hitchcock’s films offered suspense. The film “Some Like it Hot” (1959) was the start of lewd humor. One of the biggest movies of the time period came from Japan: “Godzilla” (1954). The most popularity though went to real-life stars like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.

Food &  Drink

In the 50s most families made quality dinners at home and enjoyed them as a family; during this time though, there were two major changes to the way American’s ate. The first was franchising and how it affected fast food and the second was the invention of “TV dinners”.

McDonalds became a common sight during this time period due to franchising. Anyone could open a McDonalds as long as they followed the business formula. Because of this, people would receive the same service and product at any McDonald’s location. This made the “burger, fries, and a milkshake” meal a staple.

“TV dinners” were a very popular invention during this era. In its first year of existence, Swanson brand alone sold over 10 million frozen dinners. They were pre-packaged meals that could be taken out of the freezer and be ready in under an hour with little or no effort and then enjoyed in front of the TV.


Print Culture

     American Writing in the 1950s had many prominent writers. Nobel Prizes for writing were given to William Faulkner and Ernest Hemmingway in the 1950’s. Post-war texts became very popular in the 1950s, Norman Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead which gained him success during the era. A new form of writing became popular during the 1950s known as beatniks. This counter-culture became the norm for writing, criticizing society and the government, like Jack Kerouac. Specialized magazines also became popular, with the introduction of Sports Illustrated, and Mad Magazine. Dr. Seuss became very popular during the 1950’s, emphasizing children’s literature. Literature in the 1950’s was vast and wide spread, covering the spectrum from poetry to children’s literature.

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Sports &  Games


The 1950’s were filled with impressive inventions and interesting sports. A French man invented a new game called etch a sketch which is still popular today. Throughout the 50’s it was very popular, and soon it was available in a wide range of sizes for travel. A toy that was more popular than the etch a sketch was LEGOs although they were invented in the late 30’s they were one of the most popular toys during the 50’s and are still around today.  Another great invention of the 50’s is the skateboard which is more popular today than when it was invented. Today it is a major sport among primarily teens. Throughout history the sport has become more extreme and almost a culture among the youth. On August 16 1954 the first copy of Sports Illustrated was released. This magazine informed readers and sport fans about their favorite player and was able to release important information about the sports.




During the 1950s rock and roll became the new favorite form of music. Kids were trying to go against the conformity in the 1950s, and rock and roll was the way they achieved it. Elvis Presley, a favorite rockstar of the 1950s drew teenagers to the dance floor and to record stores. Although Rock and Roll was created in the 1930’s it’s primes were in the 1950’s with a combination of blues and Rhythem. The invention of the electric guitar in the 1930’s was able to help the development of rock and roll. Also rock and roll was also able to help society and was so popular due to the fact that society was still very segregated and Rock and Roll was able to draw a crowd together. The 50’s were very influenced by music especially the youth.


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"The Way We Lived"

The 1950s in the United States were considered very “vanilla”, cities were safe and families were stable.  The economy was rising after WWII causing families to have children in huge numbers. The era of the baby boomers had begun in the 1950s, causing urban sprawl to suburbs and car sales to increase. Increasing prosperity in the United States increased items of amusement and entertainment. Attendance to amusement parks, and rock and roll concerts increased. Teenagers wanted to avoid the conformity associated with the 1950s, and rock and roll was a way to do this. Although the United States was prospering, other countries in Eastern Europe were not, with the cold war going on. The anti-communism movement in the United States was a very big deal, especially in Hollywood which experienced a “blacklist” of artists. Women in the 1950s were not happy with their role in the home and increasingly sought jobs outside of the home. Segregation was also a big deal in the 1950s, rebelling against the segregation that they faced. The 1950s was also the time of the sexual revolution, with the introduction of “the pill” and Playboy magazine.



Government & Politics

After World War 2 the government and politics really settled down. Many consider the 1950s to be a very peaceful era compared to the turbulent politics of the two decades before, the Great Depression and World War 2. As a war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected to the presidency in 1952. He was a president, who brought hope and optimize to the people. In the 1950s the US was able to really settle down as there seemed to be no problems in the economy but also with foreign affairs. Yet there was fear that the way of life in America would be destroyed and that democracy would seize to exist. Since many of the European nations had fallen to the Soviets making the communist, China had also fallen communist in 1949. This created fear that the US would face similar circumstances.

In the 1950’s televisions became very popular and close to everyone had access to one, this allowed the leaders of the government to establish an image of themselves and were able broadcast important messages to the public. Although the late 1950’s were very peaceful, in the beginning of the decade the Korean War took place. This created conflict of communism in America itself since China was also involved in the war but also North Korea.




Law &  Justice

Law and Justice in the 1950s was a time of change. Courts ruled that once a state university admitted a black student, the school cannot have segregation anymore. The Supreme Court passed many laws pertaining to segregation in University’s, allowing black students the same admission as white students. Many anti-communism trials occurred, like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were convicted 29 March, 1951 for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by passing secrets to the Soviet Union. Shortly after this Loyalty Oaths were declared constitutional by the Supreme Courts. On 24 August, 1954 President Eisenhower signs the Communist Control Act, outlawing the communist party in the United States. The serial killers “The Lonely Hearts” were convicted of two murders although they likely committed 17 more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also came out with their first Top 10 Most Wanted list in the United States, as a result to the Security Acts earlier established by Truman.


There was a high interest in religion in the 1950’s since it was right after WWII. About 63.6 % of the population was involved in religious affairs of those 60% of them attended the weekly service. The majority of the religious believes were Christian and this had a great effect on society and the future of the country. As a result of the high demand for religion, In God we trust was added to the U.S. currency. Also under God was added to the national anthem as a result of the importance of religion in the 1950’s. Society was greatly affected by the new demand of religion in hope of finding peace after World War 2. Also there weren’t as many different groups of religion since there weren’t as many new immigrants from Europe or the Middle East as today.  





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MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?




            Culture, events, and leadership shaped and reflected America in the time of post-World War 2 era by bringing the country into a new modern age and made it a big turning point in American history. The post-World War 2 era will be investigated to see whether the culture, events, and leadership contributed to changing America. World War 2 was a time of change. The economy changed drastically because the war contributed to the use of many supplies that were needed in the war. The world powers were changing from the decline of dictator. Culture, events, and leadership changed America by creating a modern age.

            Culture played a unique role in the change of modern America. After the war, the common person focused on conformity and moved away from uniformity. Following the war, women were obligated to take their original place as the traditional housekeeper, but because of the changing roles, women were given more of an opportunity to be businesswomen and public workers. Modern culture promotes women being in higher roles like the government and business.  Culture was also very rebellious in aspects of music, literature, and art. Named the “best generation,” the 50’s relate to modern era by showing the freedom and rebellious nature of artists which was an attempt to oppose the negative nature of the war.

            Events shaped and reflected modern America by securing America’s relations with other countries and themselves. In the early 1950’s President Harrier Truman approved the use of the destructive hydrogen bomb. The bomb was a step into the United Nations and today’s nuclear warfare. The bomb reflected the war by showing how the war overlapped into today’s time by the rising tensions with other countries in today’s era. Afterward, the Immigration and Naturalization acts were passed, which erased the racial barrier to becoming an American citizen. This was an attempt to better relations with Western Europe and Asian countries. In present day, America is very diverse with various minorities. After the war, tensions died out with surrounding countries and the US gained Alaska and Hawaii, becoming the 49th and 50th states. The 50 states completed America’s states today. Events changed America by breaking the borders with other countries.

            Leadership played a key role in changing America. The 50’s were an age of change because the war was already summed up by the start of the era. The house of Congress had a constant fear of Communism. World War II was a huge influence on communism. The previous communist leaders in the war like Hitler and Stalin influenced the post world war greatly.  The war’s influence on the president was great. During the war, Dwight D. Eisenhower was responsible for the capture of many Nazi parties. This led to his election as President of the United States. Leadership played a role in changing America by reflecting the deeds of the previous leaders and using that influence in the 1950’s.

            In conclusion, America’s culture, events, and leadership in modern America were greatly influenced by the war. The 1950’s culture represented the difference the people were trying the make by frowning away from the aspects of war. The events reflected the efforts of America’s anti-racism acts. 1950’s leadership was dependent on how the leaders and the government during the war reflected their successes and failures. Overall, Post-World War II was changed by America’s attempts at a better future.



Works Cited

Brower, Charles D. "The 1950s: Lifestyles and Social Trends." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 257. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


"American Decades 1950-1959." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. [1]. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


Schweikart, Larry, and Dennis Lynch. "The 1950s: Government and Politics." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 179. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14


"1950s: Film and Theater." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 661. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


"1950s: Fashion." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 657. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


"1950s: Food and Drink." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 677. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


 "The 1950s: Religion: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 377. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 June 2010.


"The 1950s: Education: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 119-120. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 June 2010.


"The 1950s: Business and the Economy: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 6: 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 83. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 June 2010.

 "Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham." Youtube. Web. 8 Jun 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdR0LXOiEB8>.

"Europe Divided on Familiar Lines To Two Speeches." Prescott Evening Courier 54(1948): 6. Print.


Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Eds. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: U*X*L, 2002. Print.






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