This year, we have on exhibit photos, clothes, mementos, and other memorabilia from the Roaring Twenties. It is our hope that the present generation can learn from our nation’s rich history and gain a deeper appreciation for our arts and culture.
During the 1920s, the United States admitted millions of immigrants from Europe. This sparked the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan which was a movement composed of men and women that expressed racist, nativist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic attitudes towards the immigrants. Members of the movement appealed for stricter immigration policies and were hostile and even violent towards the immigrants. However, this was only a fleeting period as there were laws that prohibited supporters to wear masks and challenged them to reveal their identities. The Jazz Age was represented by the female flapper look of short hair and short skirts and characterized by endless partying and permissiveness. This period also experienced alcohol prohibition as part of social reform. This imposed limitation was supposed to curb the behavior of unruly immigrants and citizens but instead led to crimes of smuggling and illegal importation to get hold of alcohol. This time in history liberated women and pushed for women’s rights. Technological innovations paved the way for labor-saving devices that would supposedly help women in their household chores but in reality, increased their workload as standards of domestic work were leveled up. Henry Ford introduced mass production of automobiles and standardization of working hours. He gave women and African Americans opportunities to work and receive equal wages so that they could afford to buy what they wanted. In political affairs, women and African Americans were given opportunities for political participation through voting.
In the Jazz Age, modernity meant advancements in the land and air. The automobile industry encouraged other businesses to flourish and infrastructure to develop. There was a boom in the consumer economy aided by the establishment of advertising. Aircraft technology allowed efficient travel from one region to another which was previously inconceivable. Even people’s attitudes were modernized as they became more permissive and pushed social and cultural boundaries. This was further influenced by movies as they featured liberal lifestyles, carefree living, and sexual themes. Radio however also proved to be a valuable tool in promoting nationalization and homogenization. In literature, writers of the lost generation expressed their disillusionment and despair and tried to escape reality through their works.
The Roaring Twenties was a dramatic and colorful part of our history. And we can see that we owe so much of what we have now to that time.