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A2 1950s De Zwaan

Page history last edited by Pooja Kumar 13 years, 11 months ago

 Jake Knight,

Pooja Kumar,

Rina Nakumara,

Sarabeth Perry,

And

Ivana Vitosevic
  A2 1950s De Zwaan  

 

 

                      

        

      

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

                         

Business & the Economy 

 

            After World War II ended, America had fully recovered and its economy was booming.  The largest force that was keeping it this was by far the consumer.  By the end of the decade, the United States’ GNP stood at $482.7 billion.  Consumers were now able to buy everything they wanted and more, and the United States’ companies provided.  American automakers were producing new cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Thunderbird.  Saran Wrap was officially introduced and helped the American housewife preserve food in refrigerators.  The most famous and probably longest lasting product however was the Barbie doll, which was introduced in 1959.  Advertising was also a large part of getting the consumer to buy their products, especially since they now had more money for more options.  Retail shopping was changing quickly with the creation of the “mall”.  Now consumers were able to purchase all their goods in one spot, and it quickly changed the landscape of cities and the shopping patterns of American consumers.  One of the most important inventions however was the credit card which was created in 1950.  The convenience and ease in which people could now purchase goods boosted the economy and was a key part in the growth of the American consumer.   

 

 

 

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Education 

 

     American education encountered racial problems, McCarthyism, the Cold War, and budget shortages which all affected the education in the 1950’s. Schooling increased 30 percent over the decade as the baby boomers, born after World War II,came of school age. Going to school had become really popular. In 1950. there were 166.473 existing elementary and secondary schools to educate over twenty-nine million students. In 1953, the Office of Education reported a shortage of 345,000 classrooms and 20 percent of students that attended schools railed to meet basic safety standards, such as fire protection. Also the Office of Education reported that 132,000 qualified teachers were needed to staff American classrooms. Funding was needed and the number of teachers wanted soared. Later, federal funding was provided and it helped build more schools and employ more teachers.

 

                                                                          

                                   

 

     The biggest event in education during the 1950's was the desegregation of the country's public schools. The equal case of the Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, reached the United STates Supreme Court, and declared that it was unconstitutional for segregation to be promoted in schools. This changed everything about the school system in the 1950's including education for states, educators, and the students of America. Religion in the classroom was common throughout the 1950's. Daily readings from the Bible and religious instruction continued to be part of the curriculum. In 1959, Pennsylvania outlawed Bible reading in public classrooms and teaching religion was banned from public schools.

                                  

  

Fashion 

     After World War II, the United States began to create a fashion unlike any other in the world.  For young boys a plain white t-shirt with jeans was the essence of the rock and roll symbols of the time like James Dean and Marlon Brando.  Young girls were often seen wearing tight sweaters with poodle skirts that showed off the womanly figure.  Woman’s fashions became to grow independently from the fashions in Paris and London but were suited to the Americans style.  Like the youth, women favored styles that showed off their figures with tight skirts, padded hips, and closely tailored bustlines.  To the contrary, men contributed to the stereotype of the 1950’s businessman who would wear a grey suit with a white shirt and tie.  Jeans had been worn in America since the 19th century, but became a symbol of rebellion when starts like Marlon Brando started to wear them with white t-shirts and leather jackets.  Young boys across the country went to buy the new staple. 

 

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Film and theater

     

      Since the early 20th century, the movie industry had been gaining audiences across the United States.  But as people began to move into the suburbs in the 1950’s along with the increasing sale of television sets, the number of people attending movie showings was decreasing.  There was even more distress among the major studios as the Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that the companies could no longer control which of their movies would show in which movie theaters.  Now being exposed to true market competition, the companies stopped making as many movies.  However, they made the movies, larger, more exciting, and with more drama.  This gave way to explosive movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still which addressed the nuclear weapons war between the United States and Russia at the time; also known as the “arms race”.  Another politically active movie that was made in 1954 was On the Waterfront which depicted the blacklisting activities that were currently taking place in Hollywood. 

 

                   

 

     The newer style of movie-making also gave way to movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe.  Getting her start with 20th Century Fox in 1948, she was well on her way to becoming a star in her early movies like Gentleman Prefer Blondes(1953).  These led to even larger roles in movies like The Seven Year Itch (1955) which set her as an icon for the rest of her life; and even after. 

 

                                     

 

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     In the 1950’s another fad was beginning: 3-D movies.  People were enthralled with the idea of images coming out of the screen towards them, and so the movie theaters employed gimmicks to bring their past viewers back to the theaters like 3-D movies.  However, the fad was just that: a fad that lasted not too long.  The cost and limitations along with the discomfort the glasses resulted in the movie industry giving up the technique.  However, IMAX 3-D movies employed the technique a decade later and still exists today.  

 


 

Food &  Drink

 

     Although families still continued to eat home made meals with each other, a new trend became to emerge. Fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds and Burger King soon played an important factor in American life because they started becoming very popular due to its convenience. McDonalds expanded across the nation through franchising, which offered individual owners the opportunity to start and own a profitable restaurant like McDonalds if they followed their business formula. These fast food restaurants were where teenagers gathered to eat food while socializing.  Hamburgers became known as the “food of the decade” and were often served along with french fries and a soft drink.  Shakes also became popular drinks that were served in these fast food restaurants.  

  

     

 

     Along with the fast food restaurants, another new eating habit called “TV Dinners” soon became an important American lifestyle. Families often bought frozen pre-pared food in order to serve food quicker. These were packaged in a box similar looking to a television screen and were eaten while watching the tv.  

 

                        

 

Print Culture

 

     In 1950 the Nobel Prize was given to William Faulkner and in 1952 the Nobel Prize was given to Ernest Hemingway. One of Ernest’s most prized pieces of literature was The Old Man and the Sea. Norman Wailer was a very popular young writer during the 1950s for his novel, The Naked and the Dead. The Catcher in the Rye was one of Salinger’s most admired pieces of literature and it is still popular today to the American people. The Beats/Beatniks were formed by a group of people that went outside of the box in their writing by braking away from the popular culture and harshly criticized the public. Students in classrooms still learn about these people today. 

 

                                                                                       

 

     Magazine publishing became more familiar with people. Several new magazines emerged during the decade including, Collier's, the American Magazine, Woman's Home Companion, and Liberty. The fall of the advertising of magazines was a poor choice in the fact that the magazine editors loss business, however, they were trying to find better way of advertising their magazines for the future. Magazines like Sports Illustrated, Playboy, National Enquirer, and MAD Magazine were produced for a specific audience to read.

 

                       

 

     This decade had popular literature for children. Dr. Seuss wrote children books. Frosty the Snowman had begun as a song and then was produced into book and family television show. Charles Shultz wrote the first of the peanut comics.

 

                            

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Sports &  Games

 

     There were many classic games and toys that were popular in the 1950's. The Frisbee, Mr. potato head which used to be a real potato, the hula hoop, scrabble, and play-doh which was originally used to clean wall paper were all popular toys that were created in the 1950's. All of these toys/games were very popular in this decade and some of them still exist today.

 


 

     Unlike many areas of society in this decade athletes were a diverse group. All American sports such as baseball and football gave many opportunities to many famous players such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Henry Aaron, Juan Marichal, Jim Brown, and Frank Gifford. Professional golf had also become very popular with start players like Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer. Women participating in sports such as golf and baseball had also started and they had made their own leagues called the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and Ladies Professional Golf Association. Sports like tennis, basketball and boxing were also popular in the fifties. Althea Gibson was the first African-American to play in the U. S. Lawn Tennis Nationals Watching sports on television had also become very popular, especially college football. The Olympics of 1952 and 1956 were very competitive because of the Cold War and the rivalry between all the countries was very intense.

 

 

Music

     Musicians in the 1950s created a new form of music, rock n roll. Rock’ n roll became popular among young teens because it gave them their own identity and voice during the 1950s. Rock’ n roll was a form of music combined of R&B (rhythm and blues), pop, and blues. One of the most well known musicians of the decade included the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. Although teens admired him for his looks and talent, adults became worried because rock n roll had many controversies. Some thought that the music was too loud and unruly, while others simply viewed rock and roll as nothing less than a communist and a way to enslavie their children's mind (Edelman, Rob).

 

                                                 

 

     Music was a force that integrated both whites and blacks. They played in the same bands together, recorded music together and were played on the same radio station. Although the Civil Rights Movement was happening during the 1950s, music gave African Americans a chance to shine, such as the famous singer and guitarist, Chuck Berry. 

 

                                     

 

     One of the oldest form of music, Jazz, was transforming during the 1950s. In the 1940s, Jazz was often played in black neighborhoods and at nightclubs but during the 1950s, they soon became very public and were brought of the cities. They held many popular jazz festivals and even developed new styles of jazz, such as modal jazz and hard bop. 

 

                                                                                

(Above: Joe Henderson, a famous musician who contributed and made music to fit the hard bop style).

 

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"The Way We Lived" 

 

     The 1950s was a decade of a new booming economy. Because of this, woman commemorated by having babies when their veteran husbands came home. People were changing. Suburbs were created. The American population was buying homes in the suburbs and buying new cars to drive. Highways were being created which made travel easier for the ordinary American family.

 

                                              

 

     People became increasingly interested in children’s toys. The slinky, silly putty, frisbee, and hula-hoop were all invented. Amusement parks were created to keep children busy and happy and rock and roll music became popular amongst teenagers. 

 

                                                      

 

     The Cold War was one of the bad highlights of the 1950s. American families built bomb shelters in the back of their new suburbia homes to protect themselves. People continued to become concerned of the rise of communism on countries around them. Blacklist tampered with writer’s and filmmaker’s careers. Women were not happy and dissatisfied with them being stereotyped as homemakers and to remedy this feeling they went out and looked for jobs. African Americans were still being discriminated against and much of the public disagreed with sexual ideas during the decade. Playboy Magazine and birth control pills were just the start of the sex revolution.

 

                 

 

Government & Politics

 

     When compared to the turbulent decades that would follow this decade, and the preceding decade to World War II, the 1950's is, for the most part, seen as a decade that is a peaceful interlude in twentieth century politics. Many see the citizen him for his kind face and his smile that was said to have beamed confidence and optimism. Many current historians view Eisenhower as a savvy politician.

     Poltics in the 1950's were driven by immediate fears that the American way of life was being threatened by a philosophy that ran counter to, and called for the destruction of, democracy. American's fear of communism during the 1950's is often looked back as being fueled by naive generalization and paranoia. However, when looking into the context of the times, the citizens were hardly being naive. After World War II the Soviets had acted quickly to annex most of Eastern Europe, and in 1949, China had fallen to communism. In 1950, the United States once again sent troops to war - this time to intervene in the Korean border conflict, to try and contain communism aggression.  

Korean War

     The presence of the American Military in Korea provided one of the most dramatic examples of emerging US-cold war policy. At the end of the Second World War, the Allied leaders had reached an agreement in which the Japanese occupying North Korea would surrender to the Sovets, and teh Japanese occupying South Korea would surrender to the United States. With these two super powers now having control over the Korean peninsula, which seemed to be growing in importance, they now had a firm grasp in Asia, from which they could wield influence over the region, or at least contain the influence over its rival. After President Harry Truman fired General Mac Arthur for his aggressive strategy of bringing the war to China, and the way in which it directly conflicted with Truman's policy of containment, the question of Communist intentions regarding American interests - and how America ought to respond - dominated in increasingly frightening political discourse. 

McCarthyism

     In 1950 an obscure senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy, used a women's Republican club meeting in Wheeling, West Virginia, to make public the stunning claim that 205 Communist-party members worked in the State Department. His charges could not easily be dismissed by an American public already made suspicious by claims that the State Department had not done enough to support anticommunist forces in China. Charges of fellow traveling—"Red-baiting"—became a potent part of campaign strategy in elections taking place at all levels of American government. Richard Nixon, a junior Republican senator from California who had used such campaign tactics to gain political office, saw his political clout skyrocket at the beginning of the decade due to his key role in exposing Alger Hiss, a midlevel government official with ties to the State Department, as a Communist spy. McCarthy's allegations would lead further Senate hearings and more accusations, capturing the public's attention and further increasing the Wisconsin senator's power. Indeed, two presidential administrationswere powerless to put a halt to McCarthyism, despite both Truman's and Eisenhower's deep dislike for the senator's bullying tactics.

The Politics of Image

Policy makers at even the highest levels of government, however, were placed under ever-increasing public scrutiny as more Americans were buying television sets for their living rooms and dens. The 1950s, to be sure, ushered in the era of political image making—an art that in its infancy was used by McCarthy both effectively, to bring popularity to him and his anticommunist crusade at the beginning of the decade, and ineptly, in the televised Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 in which he appeared as a mean-spirited political buffoon. The widely watched television appearances of Richard Nixon were key to his political successes and failures during the period: Nixon's effectively maudlin Checkers speech, in which he defended himself against charges that he had misused campaign funds, went out to approximately fifty-eight million Americans, whose sympathies saved his vice-presidential spot on the 1952 Republican ticket; an even larger television audience watched as a pale and heavily perspiring Nixon debated his opponent in the 1960 presidential election—a young, handsome, and tanned John F. Kennedy. By the end of the decade the images of politics had become enmeshed in American popular culture and had arguably become a more important political tool than the ability to articulate the issues themselves.

 

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 Leadership 

 

     Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States served his role until 1953. Although Truman was known for ending WWII and made the important decision to drop the first nuclear bombs in Japan, the 1950s decade was all about Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States. He believed that it was his job to fix up everything that Truman left behind, such as ending the Cold War and ending all the corruptions like communism. Eisenhower’s many accomplishments included the ending of the Korean War, a military conflict between South and North Korea. Eisenhower also sponsored and signed the Civil Rights bill of 1957. 

 

                                  

 

     The Civil Rights Movement was a political movement that began in the 1950s. Blacks wanted the same rights as whites and rebelled peacefully against them. Some of the most well known leaders of this movement included Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister as well as a prominent leader and an activist led many African Americans in order to end segregation. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and also won a noble peace prize in the 1960s. Rosa Parks also contributed in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, when she refused to give up her seat just because she was sitting in the “white section”. These Civil Rights leaders are still known today by many people and we even commemorate a day for Martin Luther King Jr.

 

                                                                                                 

 

Law &  Justice

 

     The law and justice of the 1950’s had a larger focus on civil rights. Rather than the focus being on the economic progression of the country after the Great Depression, civil rights became a dominant issue amongst cases in the 1950’s. For example, Brown vs. Board of education was one of the most well-known amongst them. The main issue with this case was that it was a civil rights case. During this time, civil rights became a prominent issue in the forefront of most of society’s minds. This differed from America in World War II because during the times of the war, the main focus was the economic downturn and different solutions to the Great Depression. While civil rights were most likely a concern amongst African American citizens, it was not something that affected the government while President Franklin D. Roosevelt or President Truman was in office. This case, Brown v. Board of Education, brought new concerns to the table that many had not thought about before. In 1896, the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling stated that that as long as the separate facilities for the separate races were "equal," segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. In the case of Brown v. Board of education, Oliver Brown, a African American man had a daughter who had to travel miles to her run down black school, while there was a school just near her house. His daughter was not allowed in the school because of her color. In the final ruling of this case, it was decided that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal, which overruled the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson. With this case, came many more discrepancies amongst the government on civil rights, and unlike the 30’s and 40’s (times of WWII) which held more fascination towards the country as a whole rather than the individual people.

 

                                          

 

Religion

 

            The religious upsurge that followed World War II continued into the 1950s. Because of the rising entertainment industry, interest in religion grew to such heights that discussions arose over a new awakening. There were definite hopes that this one would affect the American culture as deeply as those that occurred in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Various events occured during the 1950's that depicted this upsurge. For example, in 1951, the Supreme Court assumed the right to review previous cases in state governments involving religious freedom. Because of this, soon progress was being made, specifically in New York City, where the Supreme Court agreed to review the consitutional status of released-time programs for religious study in public schools, and the next year, the released-time programs became upheld by the Supreme Courts. Because of the growing interest in religion being a result of the rising entertainment industry, it was important for the nation, and the Supreme Court to realize that having opinions of religion come out in certain music, or movies, would be inevitable. This definitely caused a handful of disagreements amongst the citizens of the nation, but eventually in 1952, the Supreme Court held that states and cities were not allowed to ban movies on the grounds being sacreligious, which also showed signs of progress. 

 

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

 

     It has been noted that the 1950's was a decade that gave citizens a break from times of turmoil. World War II came and went, and Eisenhower's bright smile filled homes throughout America. Many names that have made their way into the homes of the nation today made their mark on society in the 1950's. Elvis Presley. This name is associated with one thing: Royalty. This man is now known for being the King of Rock and Roll, and made a tremendous impact on society when he first rocked the Jail House. His new flair on music was definitely new to society, and it was in fact questioned on its morals when it first was introduced. Eventually, people warmed up to it, and Elvis can be seen today as one of the first entertainers to loosen the top button of society within the decade, and essentially the 20th-Century. Music was not the only thing keeping society moving at a calm and collected pace. Food, fashion, and film also slowed down during this decade. Food was kept simple, with the past foundings of fast food restaurants, Fashion was kept simple, and not as much emphasis went into the fashions in the 1950's, however fashion from this decade is something many people in modern society try to embody, and because of the invention of the television, many chose to stay home, rather than spending money on a film, which led to the eventual decrease in the movie industry overall, however, that does not mean that the quality decreased, with classics like The Waterfront being produced. Because the culture of this decade is seen as being calm, this shows how the mood can definitely shift after a war such as the Second World War. Because the nation had been so drained from this war, it was normal for most of society to slow down a bit, and have a kind man with a loveable smile leading them - Eisenhower.

     President Dwight D. Eisenhower was what most would consider a breath of fresh air after president Truman during World War II. This would be the first time in twenty years a republican would live in the white house. The time that Eisenhower spent in office was an era of governing that was to appeal to Middle America's political sensibilities. Eisenhower Republicans pledged to cut defense spending while simultaneously engaging Communist aggression both abroad and at home; limit the federal government's role in the business and private sectors; and invigorate a maturing sense of America's role as a superpower. This seemed to give the citizens of the United States a good sense of security, and it was important that they had trust in their government so all of these things could get accomplished, and it seemed as though most people did. Under his presidency, the cold war was ended, the korean war was ended, and in 1957, Eisenhower also sponsered and signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1957. When compared to World War II America, the America that was following President Eisenhower was an America fresh out of the New Deal, and an America that essentially no longer needed a new deal. It was just a country that needed a break, and Eisenhower, for the most part, gave that to the people. 

     In 1950 alone, the Hydrogen Bomb Programme was confirmed by President Truman, mass production of computers began, the credit card system was introduced, and the first organ transplant took place. It is no surprise that the fifties showed a huge improvement in technology, because of its necessity during World War II. However, technology was not the only aspect becoming more and more advanced. Civil Rights made a huge impact amongst this decade, commencing in 1951, when Oliver Brown sued Topeka, Kansas so his daughter could attend a white school. This case recieved a lot of attention nationally, and can be seen as one of the reasons why modern society consists of mixed-race schools. Not only schools, but in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. The Montgomery Bus-Boycott is viewed today as the beginning of the Civil Rights movement as a whole. All of the black citizens in Montgomery refused to ride the most convenient means of transportation until it was ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional, which eventually happened. Overall, the events occuring in the 1950's helped the citizens coming out of World War II become more advanced, both medically, and technologically, and helped the citizens wake up to a new thriving issue amongst them - Civil Rights. Racism and segregation had been a constant problem since the moment slaves were brought to America, and with the Montgomery Bus-Boycott, hope was given to many of those being segregated that would not have taken action before. It is important for one to see this decade as a time of new beginnings, as it was a decade that was both literally and physically speaking - Out with the old and in with the new. 

 

 

 

 

 

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