WebQuest--America in the 1920s
DIRECTIONS: Read the following overview of life in America during the 1920s. As you read AND take notes on the material, answer the 10 questions posed throughout the Introduction and outline. Next, choose ONE of the ten topics (except #9) and write a one-page essay explaining its long-term impact on our nation's social, political, cultural, or economic development. NOTE: if a link is unavailable, search the web on your own.
Flappers, jazz music, and vintage cars highlighted the ceremonial unveiling by the U.S. Postal Service of 15 postage stamps saluting the "Roaring Twenties" on May 28, 1998. The stamps are part of the Postal Service's landmark Celebrate the Century stamp and education program.
"The '20s was an age of historic changes," said Postal Service governor Einar Dyhrkopp. "Through the use of very evocative illustrations and photography, these stamps portray the Roaring Twenties in dramatic fashion.
THE ROARING TWENTIES
The following text is from the 1920s Celebrate the Century stamp sheet:
"Two Constitutional amendments went into effect in 1920, turning the nation upside down. The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, and the 19th gave women the right to vote. A federal highway system was organized, and the number of automobiles nearly tripled. Spreading electrification spawned the golden age of radio.
"The Roaring Twenties, as the decade came to be known, was an age of thrill seekers and heroes. In 1926, Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel faster than any man had. The following year, Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop across the Atlantic alone and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs.
"The first feature-length film with talking parts, The Jazz Singer, appeared in 1927, and the first Academy Awards were presented in 1929. The prosperous times ended with the stock market crash of Thursday, October 24, 1929. Many new words -- such as motel, robot, fan mail, and teenage -- became part of the American lexicon."
THE STAGE IS SET
So sets the stage for the fifteen stamps commemorating the 1920s:
The activities that follow will engage students in exploring Web sites as they search for information related to ten of the 1920s stamps. For each stamp, a question is posed and a Web site URL is presented. Challenge students to use the listed Web sites to answer all ten questions. Click here for the answers to the questions.
I. RADIO ENTERTAINS AMERICA
By the end of the 1920s, radio had become a nationalobsession. Families crowded around their sets to listen to newscasts, comedy and children's shows, variety hours, and presidential speeches. The stamp art is based on a photograph of a 1923 Atwater Kent radio.
In the 1920s, Atwater Kent manufactured radios in many styles, including "breadboard" radios. What was a breadboard radio?
You can find the answer to that question on the Radio History Society Web site <http://www.radiohistory.org>. HINT: Check out the Atwater Kent exhibit.
II. JAZZ FLOURISHES
Created in the United States, jazz was spread by radio and recordings in the 1920s. Among the leading performers were Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe "King" Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, and Bix Beiderbecke.
When Louis Armstrong was 11 years old, he was sent to live in a waif's home, a sort of juvenile hall. Why was that experience a turning point in young Louis's life?
You can find the answer to that question on a Louis Armstrong Web page: <http://www.ubl.com/artists/027188.html>.
III. 19th AMENDMENT
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified August 26, 1920. The fight for women's suffrage was over, ending a struggle that had begun in the mid-19th century.
The 19th Amendment passed in 1920, but it had been introduced many years earlier. In what year was the amendment introduced in Congress?
You will find that answer on the The 19th Amendment Web page: <http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/constitution/19th/19th.html>, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration's Web site.
IV. BABE RUTH
Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs in 1920. He went on to hit 59 home runs in 1921 and 60 in 1927. Twice he hit three home runs in a single game of the World Series. One of his nicknames was the "Sultan of Swat."
How did George Herman Ruth get the nickname "Babe"?
The answer to that question can be found in the Babe Ruth Biography: <http://www.baberuth.com/biograph.html>.
V. ART DECO STYLE
The Art Deco style in architecture and the decorative arts combines sleek elegance, geometric shapes, and varied materials. One of the finest examples of the style, the Chrysler Building, in New York City, reflects America's exuberance in the 1920s.
Which three buildings does the Art Deco Web site offer as prime examples of the style?
You can find the names of those three building by clicking on the photos you'll find at Architecture on Art Deco: <http://orathost.cfa.ilstu.edu/students/pcfare/deco.html>.
VI. LINDBERGH FLIES ATLANTIC
On May 20 and 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop, solo, trans-Atlantic flight aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. He left from Long Island and flew 3,600 miles to Paris in 33*hours.
Before gaining fame, Lindbergh worked as an airmail pilot. Which route did he fly in that job?
You can find the answer to that question in an illustrated coloring book, The Charles Lindbergh Story, which appears on the NASA Web site: <http://tommy.jsc.nasa.gov/~woodfill/SPACEED/SEHHTML/Lind1.html>.
VII. FLAPPERS DO THE CHARLESTON
Caricaturist John Held Jr. portrayed the fun-loving, escapist lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties. His drawings of young women called "flappers" symbolized the decade.
The flapper was a "modern" girl in the 1920s. Many older people were shocked by the way flappers looked, dressed, and acted. What two characteristics of a flapper might have upset her parents?
Find the answer to that question on the Flapper Culture and Style: Louise Brooks and the Jazz Age, the Louise Brooks Society Web site: <http://www.pandorasbox.com/flapper.html>.
VIII. MARGARET MEAD, ANTHROPOLOGIST
Anthropologist Margaret Mead explored the effect of culture on the behavior and personalities of children and adults as well as the differences between men and women.
In her lifetime, Margaret Mead wrote 26 books. What is the title of her best-known book?
To find the answer to that question, take a look at the background information about Margaret Mead on the Margaret Mead: Anthropologist lesson: <http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/resources/ed_lesson_plans/famous/mmead.html>.
IX. STOCK MARKET CRASH 1929
Stock market prices plummeted on Black Thursday, October 24, 1929, and collapsed on October 29. Banks and businesses closed and the Great Depression soon followed.
What was the headline in The New York Times on the morning after Black Thursday?
To find the answer to that question, go to the Black Thursday: Introduction Web page: <http://sac.uky.edu/~msunde00/hon202/p4/nyt.html>.
X. AMERICAN REALISM
Painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is possibly the most important American realist of the period. The detail from the Automat (1927), at the Des Moines Art Center, typifies his attention to the human feelings of alienation and introspection.
Take a look at some of Edward Hopper's famous street-scene paintings. What is the title of the street scene he painted in 1927?
To find the name of the painting, click Street scenes on WebMuseum: Edward Hopper: <http://metalab.unc.edu/wm/paint/auth/hopper>.
from an article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1999 Education World
Other possibly useful sites:
FLAPPER CULTURE AND STYLE: LOUISE BROOKS AND THE JAZZ AGE
The Changing Culture of America: 1920's
A SAMPLE OUTLINE--Lesson One: An Overview of the 1920s
Sites For The Decade 1920 - 1930
The Yonger Generation in the 1920s and 1960s
(secret word = globalinks - quiz = IO-America1920s)