• The 1950s: Peace and Prosperity

    The end of World War II brought new financial opportunities to many American families. During the war, men and women had been paid high wages working in factories and other industries. They saved most of the money they earned during the war and were now ready to spend.

    Television advertisements introduced Americans to new, exciting products. People had more time for entertainment, and after the hard years of the Great Depression and World War II, they were ready to relax.

    Fun Facts

    • Television became a huge influence during the 1950s. Almost every family owned a television set and enjoyed watching programs like Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, and Leave It to Beaver. Television shows influenced popular culture more than almost anything else.
    • When soldiers came home from the war and started families, they had a hard time finding homes. A housing shortage spurred a huge building trend. Thousands of Americans left the cities and country to move to suburbs, small neighborhoods near the edge of larger cities.
    • For many years, debt was seen as a bad thing. In the 1950s, using credit to make purchases became more acceptable. The GI Bill gave veterans low-interest loans to buy houses or go to college.
    • Fads developed and spread quickly through television commercials. Barbies became popular toys that children still play with today. Hula hoops, bubble gum, and coonskin caps were other fads of the 1950s. Girls began wearing blue jeans and ponytails. Boys wore blue jeans with white t-shirts.
    • Teenagers loved listening and dancing to the new music, “rock and roll.” Singers like Elvis Presley, Debbie Reynolds, and Pat Boone rose to stardom. People loved going to drive-in movie theaters, as well as indoor theaters. The Sound of Music was a favorite movie.

    Vocabulary

    1. Fad: something that becomes very popular and then usually fades away
    2. Suburb: neighborhoods that lie in between rural areas and larger cities
    3. Veteran: someone who has served in the military

    Questions and Answers

    Question: Were the 1950s a peaceful time?

    Answer: Most people view the 1950s as a peaceful, idyllic time. More people than ever before could afford a new home and car (the American Dream). Their children played in safe neighborhoods and went to new schools. It was a time of great growth for America. During the 1950s, people were very interested in science too. This interest fueled new innovations, but also trickled down to everyday life. For example, women became very interested in using packaged, scientific food products, such as cake mixes, gelatin, and frozen dinners.

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Tobin, Declan. (2021). American in the 1950's - Fun Facts. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/1950s-peace-prosperity/

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