World War I changed the way many people felt about life. The younger generation, in particular, wanted to throw off old conservative values in favor of a “modern” life. Most Americans had more money and more leisure time than ever and they enjoyed being entertained. The arts, including literature, movies, and music, flourished. People enjoyed watching sports; several baseball and boxing legends gained fame during this era.
- Most Americans still went to church, worked hard, and took care of their families. Some young people sought a “fast” lifestyle. They enjoyed parties, dances, and driving fast cars. Young women, known as flappers, scandalized the older generation by cutting their hair, wearing short skirts, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and dancing all night.
- A group of African-American writers, poets, artists, musicians, and composers in New York began producing work that explored life for African-Americans. Their creative output was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Writer, Zora Neale Hurston, and poet/playwright, Langston Hughes, were part of this cultural movement.
- Access to radio shows allowed people to listen to music, news shows, and variety hours at home. Musicians, such as George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith became famous.
- Film technology improved and film production companies began making movies in Hollywood, California. The first movies were black and white and featured no sound. These silent films delighted audiences who poured into large movie palaces to view them. Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart,” and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were among the most famous movie stars, along with Charlie Chaplin. These three collaborated to form United Artists.
- Spectator sports became a popular pastime too. George Herman “Babe” Ruth is perhaps the best-known baseball player of all time. He set a home-run record that wasn’t broken until 1961.
- I hope this email finds you well. I’m the editor for “Spark” magazine and I’m currently working on the summer issue, which has a theme of early literacy and writing. I’m searching for teachers and ECs who are especially passionate about this topic that might like to contribute to the magazine. Can you think of anyone in your area that might fit the bill? Thanks.
- Conservative: serious, careful, thoughtful
- Flourish: to prosper or thrive
- Spectator sport: a sport that others (spectators) watch, such as tennis, football, or boxing
Questions and Answers
Question: How did the Roaring Twenties change America?
Answer: For the first time, a younger generation was openly rebellious against the older generation.Long-standing traditions were thrown aside and forgotten. During the Twenties, Americans became interested in entertainment and buying goods.Many went into debt to buy things they couldn’t really afford.
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