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1920s Characteristics and

Discussion Question(s)
5 characteristics
1. Entertainment/Escape - movies, radio(soaps and Jazz), automobiles, airplane, professional sports,
dancing, celebrities
2. Prosperity - Business had less government intervention, more working people, business were
prosperous as were the people (or so it seemed), Corporations!!!!, more consumers therefore
more random useless products made
3. New roles - gender roles (women), housewife, flapper, “New Negro,”
4. Great Depression- not only caused by the stock market crash, but also bank failures,
overproduction, natural disasters, uneven wealth distribution, etc. Mellon’s program created an
illusion that the American economy was booming right before the bust.
5. Freedom - women were able to have office jobs (clerks and secretaries only though), WWI over
many people happy, Harlem Renaissance (embrace race, artistic), Businesses free from

3 conflicts
1. Political
a. Foreign policy (Mellon Program, Hoover Policies),
b. Great Migration (many blacks and whites in job competition, more blacks in cities
causing racial tensions),
c. scandals (Harding brining corrupt friends into office),
d. consumption/prohibition (leads to creation of 18th amendment)
2. Economic
a. stock market crash,
b. farmers overproduction (loss of money),
c. Business growth - corporation, oligopolies
3. Evolution vs Creationism
a. The Monkey Trial (legal case where the teacher, John Scopes, explained evolution in his
biology class. Caused debates about separation of church and state, exceptions within the
first amendment, and whether or not creationism or darwinism should be taught in

Class Discussion Question(s)

1. In what way do you think “flappers” influenced the image of American women? How? Positively
or negatively?
2. William G. Harding won election by claiming to “return to normalcy.” Was this even possible for
America? Had the country ever been “normal?” What was considered “normal?”
3. In what ways did the 18th amendment affect the 1920s? Lifestyle, money, work, black markets...?
4. “Normalcy” is defined as returning to the ways prior to the war. Does this “normalcy” include
simply peaceful times free of war and unstable foreign affairs, or does “normalcy” refer to the
corrupt and unregulated ways of the Gilded/Reform Age (ex. racism, unregulated business).
5. Did World War I interrupt the reform of the Gilded Age? How would the 1920s have been
different if the US had decided to maintain neutrality?
6. Is there any irony in women joining the KKK?