Ideas, Beliefs, and Culture

Ideas, beliefs and culture

Klu Klux Klan in the 1920’s

Date- 1920’s

Summary- The new KKK spawned after WWI and instead of resembling the night riders of the 1860s it more closely resembled the nativists of the 1850s. They were anti-foreign, anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-pacifist, anticommunist, anti-internationalist, antievolutionist, anti-bootlegger, antigambling, anti-adultery, and anti-birth control. However, they were pro-Anglo-Saxon, pro-“native” American, and pro-protestant. It spread rapidly through the country especially affecting the Midwest and the Bible Belt. It came to an end in the late 1920’s when it was found that out of the 10 dollar initiation fee 4 of those dollars were going back to the leaders of the local organizers as an incentive for recruiting people.

Connection to Theme- The KKK showed a manifestation of intolerance and hate that was being used to help deal with some Americans fears of the social changes happening in the 1920’s.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Date- 1964

Summary- This act banned racial discrimination in most private facilities open to the public, including theaters, hospitals, and restaurants. It made the federal government’s power to end segregation in public places stronger. It also made it so that employers couldn’t discriminate based on race and empowered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Connection to Theme- This completely demolished any idea that the United States tolerated racism or discrimination and helped African Americans and other races to establish a larger role in their country and feel safer in the country they called home.

Rosie the Riveter

Date- 1940’s

Summary- During WWII nearly 216,000 women were enlisted for noncombat duties and more than 6 million women took up jobs outside of their home with more than half of them never having had worked for wages before. The government made over 3000 day care centers so that women with children had a place to keep them while they went to work. When the war ended many women still wanted to continue working so they did but over two-thirds of the women left the labor force either due to them quitting or employers making room for returning service men.

Connection to Theme- Women had previously been kept in the household given the role of a housewife and mother and nothing else. When men went off to war and women stepped up to the plate it showed that they could do the same work men did. Although it didn’t have extreme immediate affects to change gender equality it foreshadowed an eventual revolution in the roles of women in American society.


21st Century Media

Date- Early 21st Century

Summary- By 2007 over 70 percent of households had Internet access. This caused more Americans to use the internet to communicate, shop, and work. Even as the “dot-com bubble” started to deflate companies that were able to maintain became enormous successes (Google, Amazon, E*Trade, etc.). The internet spread power and information among more and more Americans. Cites like Myspace, Facebook, and YouTube allowed people to make connections with people from around the world and blogging became more and more popular. It challenged traditional media and caused more and more Americans to look to the internet for news instead of the paper and T.V.

Connection to Theme- Computers drove major readjustments in modern American economic, social, and cultural life. It allowed a new and more broad communication between people and made Americans depend less on traditional media and more on the Internet and computers.

Feminist Revolution

Date- 1900-present day

Summary- In the beginning of the 20th Century women made up about 20% of all workers and by the 1990’s nearly half of all workers were women. Despite these massive gains some feminists were still frustrated due to receiving lower wages than men and being employed into low- prestige and low-paying jobs. Sexual discrimination explained some of these challenges along with greater burdens of parenthood on women than men. Men’s roles also changed making it more common to see men doing things like cook and clean and child care.

Connection to Theme- The Feminist revolution caused the playing field between men and women to become more equal than it had previously been. Women were taking larger roles in the work place while men were taking up more roles that had previously been seen as “woman’s work” and also made the government recognize this by passing the Family Leave Bill in 1993 and more work places allowing paternity leave as well as maternity leave.


Prohibition: The 18th amendment outlawed the sale of alcohol in the United States. The temperance campaign had been launched by Protestant advocates and was based on the assumption that liquor caused poverty, abuse, and broken families. Rural Americans viewed liquor as immoral and a threat to the traditional values of American society. The ideals represented by prohibitionist were defied by many urban Americans and the 21st amendment repealed the law in the next decade.



Mass consumerism: The introduction of credit cards enabled millions to “buy now and pay later”. Also the introduction of electricity led to many new appliances such as vacuum cleaners, toasters, and refrigerators. Mass advertising appealed to many consumers and convinced them to purchase items that were once considered luxuries. The rise of the consumerist culture impacted society both negatively and positively as Americans had more opportunities than in the decade before but Americans became more and more wasteful leading to an economic down slope in the next decade.



Nativism: In the 1920s, because of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, there was a concern that communists were trying to overthrow the government in America. Many Americans became paranoid about communists in the nation (The Red Scare). The government deported many socialists and anarchists despite a lack of evidence of communist plots. America became increasingly Nativist as the public opposed foreigners and outsiders in the nation for fear of the spread of communism. Many laws were passed, such as The Emergency Quota Act (1921) ,that restricted and reduced immigration to America .



The Scopes Trial: John Scopes was arrested for violating a state law that outlawed the teaching of evolution. The case focused the debate between the ideals of urban modernism and the religious fundamentalism of rural America. Christian fundamentalists challenged those who questioned the teachings of the Bible about creation. This trial represented a cultural clash over the role of religion in education.


The Environment: This was a time period of increased awareness of the need to protect the environment. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring told of the dangers of pesticides and led to the passage of laws, such as the Air Pollution Control Act, to control pollution and protect the environment. There was an increased effort of society to beautify America and a greater awareness of the need to be responsible in dealing with the environment. Protection and preservation of the environment became a social movement of the 1960s.