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1950s Powered By Docstoc
What Things Cost in 1950:   What Things Cost in 1959:
       Car: $1,750                 Car: $2,200
  Gasoline: 27 cents/gal      Gasoline: 30 cents/gal
     House: $14,500              House: $18,500
   Bread: 14 cents/loaf        Bread: 20 cents/loaf
    Milk: 82 cents/gal            Milk: $1.01/gal
 Postage Stamp: 3 cents      Postage Stamp: 4 cents
    Stock Market: 235           Stock Market: 679
 Average Annual Salary:      Average Annual Salary:
          $3,800                      $5,500
Minimum Wage: 75 cents      Minimum Wage: $1.00 per
        per hour                       hour
             Rise of Suburbia
  •Mass movement
  promoted by gov’t
policies – loans by the
Administration and the
   Federal Housing
 •Majority were white
  and middle-class
 •Came to symbolize
     the domestic
confinement feminists     Levittown (suburb outside of
  of the 60s and 70s              Philadelphia
    fought against
  •1 out of
   every 4
homes in the
 1960s was
 built in the
•83% of those
 homes were
 in suburbia
 •Nation of
  nation of
“Cult of Domesticity”
It is the belief that a woman's role
in marriage was to:
•Maintain the home as a refuge for her husband
•Train the children
•Set a moral example for children to follow
      Home = the "separate, proper sphere" for women
      Women = morally superior to and purer than men
      and thus better suited to child-rearing; resistant to
      "tainting" by the increasingly competitive,
      Industrial world
                   HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE
         Home Economics High School Text Book, 1954
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a
delicious meal, on time. This is a way of letting him know that you
have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.
Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of
a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.
Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you'll be
refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in
your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-
weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His
boring day may need a lift.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of
the home just before your husband arrives, gather up
schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. Your husband will feel he has
reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.
Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's
hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, & if necessary
change their clothes. They are little treasures & he would like to
see them playing the part.
Some don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't
complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared
with what he might have gone through that day. Make him
comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest
he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for
him. Arrange his pillow & offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a
low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice.
Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out
to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to
understand his world of strain & pressure, his need to be home &
The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order
where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
                  Baby Boom
•Within 15 years after the war, 50 million babies had
been born (approximately one every seven seconds)

•Peaked in 1957 and then steadily declined

•Impact through the years…
   •40s & 50s = lucrative market
   for baby products
   •60s = clothing and rock music
   •70s = Levis
   •80s = job market competition
   •90s = raising “secondary
   boom” of children
New Technology

First 707 Passenger Jet   First Air Force One Jet
       1950s Employment
1956: “White-collar” workers outnumbered “blue-collar
 Transition from industrial age to a postindustrial era

 Opened up special opportunities for women

   Of the 40 million jobs created in the three decades after
    1950, more than 30 million were clerical and service
      work; the majority of which were filled by women.
      Quiet revolution that would transform women’s
      roles and the character of the American family
                began gaining momentum
      The Feminine Mystique
                 By Betty Friedan

•Classic of feminist literature
that launched the modern
woman’s movement
•Indicted the boredom of
suburban housewifery and
freed many women from the
    Consumer Culture
                   Over 7 million sets sold
                       in 1951 alone

First McDonald’s
           1950s Stars
Popularized – and commercialized – new
   standards of sensuous sexuality
    Civil Rights Movement
   1950 = 15 million black
2/3rds still living in the South

   Governed by Jim Crow
    laws…bizarre array of
       separate social
   arrangements that kept
blacks insulated from whites,
  economically inferior, and
     politically powerless
Undermining of Political Power
Prevented blacks from voting:
   poll taxes   literacy tests
    “Grandfather Clause”

  •20% of eligible southern
  blacks were registered to
  •only 5% were registered
  in the Deep South
  Plessy v.
 1896 Supreme Court

 “separate but
equal” facilities
were allowable
   under the
When law proved insufficient to enforce these
“laws,” vigilante violence did the job…
   Lynchings were common…
1946: Six black WWII veterans were murdered when they
tried to claim the rights they had fought for overseas
 President Harry Truman’s
        response =
 “To Secure These Rights”
  Report recommending the
 ending of segregation in the
   federal civil service and
ordered “equality of treatment
and opportunity” in the armed
 1955: Emmett Till, a black fourteen-year-old, was
accused of leering/whistling at a white woman and

Jet Magazine published photos of the boy’s remains
  Trial for Emmett Till’s Murder
 A jury of twelve
white men found
   the two men
after deliberating
 for 67 minutes

                     A later interview with Look magazine,
                     the two men described the murder in
                                    gory detail
       An American Dilemma (Gunnar Mrydal)
 Exposed contradiction between America’s professed
 belief that “all men are created equal” and the treatment
 of black citizens

   National Association for the Advancement of
             Colored People (NAACP)
Experienced some success in overcoming segregation…
•1944: S.C. ruled the “white primary” was unconstitutional
 •1950: S.C. ruled that separate professional schools for
         blacks failed to meet the test of equality

          Rosa Park’s
       refusal to give up
      her “Whites Only”
          seat got her
       arrested, sparked
        the Montgomery
       bus boycott, and
      led to the rise of…
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
           •27-year-old preacher
           •Advocated nonviolent protests
           such as sit-ins
           •1957: Formed the Southern
           Christian Leadership
           Conference (SCLC) aimed at
           mobilizing the vast power of
           black churches on behalf of
           black rights
Peaceful Marches      Sit-ins

Freedom Rides      Picketing
 Brown v. Board of Education
   May 1954: Ruled segregation in the public
  schools was “inherently unequal” and thus

    “Massive resistance” to ruling in Deep South
  Signed “Declaration of Constitutional Principles”
President Eisenhower unresponsive but forced to act
               in September 1957…
 Little Rock’s Central High School
•Sept. 3, 1957: Arkansas
governor used National
 Guard to prevent nine
  black students from
•Sept. 20, 1957: Injunction
  granted an injunction
against Governor Faubus

    •Sept. 23, 1957: Group of nine students returned to
   Central High School. Although the students were not
      physically injured, a mob of 1,000 townspeople
        prevented them from remaining at school.
   •Finally, President
  Eisenhower ordered
1,000 paratroopers and
    10,000 National
  Guardsmen to Little
Rock, and on September
25, Central High School
   was desegregated.
Operation Wetback
              Fear that illegal
           immigration would hurt
          the bracero program (an
           agreement with Mexico
             in 1942 to bring in
            Mexican agricultural

               Over one million
                Mexicans were
             apprehended and sent
                back to Mexico
            “Indian New Deal”
   1934: Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier
     promoted the Indian Reorganization Act which
encouraged tribes to establish local self-government & to
preserve their native crafts and traditions, & helped stop
  the loss of Indian lands & revive interest in personal
                   identity and culture

1950s: Eisenhower proposes to “terminate” the tribes as
legal entities and to revert to the assimilationist goals of
 the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887. Policy abandoned in
              1961 after most Indians resist.

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