1920s Consumer Culture
"The speakeasy. The flapper. Al Capone. Boosterism. Prohibition. Cars and consumer
culture. The roaring twenties. Through these popular images, the colorful decade of the
1920s still resonates among generations that never experienced it. Yet the popular
stereotype of this crucial decade largely obscures its greater cultural and historical
significance. From a cultural and historical perspective, the 1910s and 1920s were
marked by a deep clash of cultures." 1
The chart below, compliments of the Ohio State University Department of History,
provides seven examples of this 'clash of cultures' that emerged in the 1920s. Later in this
unit we will explore the tensions in this decade in greater depth, including flappers,
prohibition, the KKK, evolutionism, and the popularity of jazz.
"Old" Culture "New" Culture
Idealized the Past Looked to the Future
Local Culture Mass Culture
1920s Culture Power Point Assignment (35pts)
Your task is to find evidence of the 'new culture' identified above and explain why you
think it developed in the post-First World War Era. To get a sense for the daily
influences of the 1920s, we will be examining print advertisements from the time period.
To browse advertisements available for our purposes, click on Ad Access from Duke
University's John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.
Today in class your job is to:
1. Keeping in mind the chart above, take about 10 minutes to browse the advertising
database. You should be looking for ads that are evidence of the 'new culture' of
the 1920s. Please pay attention to the date on each ad--remember we're talking
about the decade after the end of the First World War. The categories Beauty
& Hygiene and Radio will be most useful to you.
2. Choose three advertisements (in at least two different categories) that you think
best show characteristics of the 'new culture' of the 1920s.
3. Open a new Microsoft PowerPoint file and paste each chosen advertisement onto
a slide. Please ask for assistance if you are not sure how to do this.
4. Add the following explanatory information for each advertisement:
o Name of Product
o Date of Advertisement
o How the advertisement shows a characteristic of the 'new culture' of the
1920s (give 2 reasons in bullet points)
5. Add a new slide to the end of the PowerPoint deck. On this slide answer the
question, what can we learn about the 1920s by analyzing product
advertisements? If you're stuck for ideas, think about what we can learn about
2009 by looking at the television and magazine advertisements we see every day.
Your response should be at least three to five good sentences in length.
6. Create a title slide that ties together the images you chose as well as your
o Appropriateness of chosen advertisements. Do your ads represent the 1920s? (10
o Reasons for chosen advertisements. Are they thorough and thoughtful? (10
o Summary slide—clear, thoughtful? (10 points)
o Finished look of your final product. Does your presentation look professional? (5