USII.5a  Early 20th Century -Transportation, Communication, Electrification

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by
a) explaining how developments in transportation (including the use of the automobile), communication, and electrification changed American life.

How was social and economic life in the early twentieth century different from that of the late nineteenth century?

Technology extended progress into all areas of American life, including neglected rural areas.

Results of improved transportation brought by affordable automobiles
• Greater mobility
• Creation of jobs
• Growth of transportation-related industries (road construction, oil, steel, automobile)
• Movement to suburban areas

Invention of the airplane
• The Wright brothers


Use of the assembly line
• Henry Ford

• Increased availability of telephones

Alexander Graham Bell (1880)

• Development of the radio (role of Guglielmo Marconi)
and broadcast industry (role of David Sarnoff)

• Development of the movies

Ways electrification changed American life
• Labor-saving products (e.g., washing machines, electric stoves, water pumps)

• Electric lighting
Read about Edison's Light Bulb 

Edison's Other Inventions

Watch one of Edison's Kinetiscope Movies

• Entertainment (e.g., radio)

Read about the role of the radio in the 20s and 30s

[People gathered around to listen to the radio in the 1920s and '30s]

USII.5b Prohibition, the Great Migration North

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by
b) describing the social changes that took place, including Prohibition, and the Great Migration north.

What was Prohibition, and how effective was it?

Reforms in the early twentieth century could not legislate how people behaved.

Prohibition was imposed by a constitutional amendment that made it
illegal to manufacture, transport, and sell alcoholic beverages.

Results of Prohibition
• Speakeasies were created as places for people to drink alcoholic beverages.
• Bootleggers smuggled illegal alcohol and promoted organized crime.

Why did African Americans migrate to northern cities?

Economic conditions and violence led to the migration of people.

Great Migration north

• Jobs for African Americans in the South were scarce and low paying.
• African Americans faced discrimination and violence in the South.
• African Americans moved to northern cities in search of better employment opportunities.
• African Americans also faced discrimination and violence in the North.

USII.5c The Harlem Renaissance

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by
c) examining art, literature, and music from the 1920s and 1930s, emphasizing Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and Georgia O'Keeffe and including the Harlem Renaissance.

Who were the leaders in art, literature, and music? What were their contributions?

The 1920s and 1930s were important decades for American art, literature, and music.

Cultural climate of the 1920s and 1930s





•Art—Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist known for urban scenes and, later, paintings of the Southwest



• Literature—F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novelist who wrote about the Jazz Age of the 1920s;

John Steinbeck, a novelist who portrayed the strength of poor migrant workers during the 1930s

• Music—
Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, composers who wrote uniquely American music
 "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" from the Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess."
More Gershwin Clips

The Ultimate Copland Album

How did the Harlem Renaissance influence American life?

The leaders of the Harlem Renaissance drew upon the heritage of black culture to establish themselves as powerful forces for cultural change.

Harlem Renaissance
African American artists, writers, and musicians based in Harlem revealed the freshness and variety of African American culture.

• Art—
Jacob Lawrence, painter who chronicled the experiences of the Great Migration north through art
See Migration Series

• Music—Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, jazz composers; Bessie Smith, blues singer

Listen to the music of Duke Ellington
Birmingham Breakdown

Read more about Duke Ellington

Popularity of these artists spread to the rest of society.

• Literature—
Langston Hughes, poet who combined the experiences of African and American cultural roots

Learn  more about Langston Hughes

From Busboy to Poet
"Langston's Early Years"

Langston Touches the Soul
"Langston Hughes, Man of the People

Play that Tune, Speak the Word!
"A Renaissance Man"

USII.5d  The Great Depression

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by
d) identifying the causes of the Great Depression, its impact on Americans, and the major features of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

What were the causes of the Great Depression?

The optimism of the 1920s concealed problems in the American economic system and attitudes about the role of government in controlling the economy.

Causes of the Great Depression
• People over-speculated on stocks, using borrowed money that they could not repay when stock prices crashed.
• The Federal Reserve failed to prevent the collapse of the banking system.
• High tariffs strangled international trade.

How were the lives of Americans affected by the Great Depression?

The Great Depression had a widespread and severe impact on American life.

Impact on Americans
• A large numbers of banks and businesses failed.
• One-fourth of workers were without jobs.
• Large numbers of people were hungry and homeless.
• Farmers’ incomes fell to low levels.

What were the major features of the New Deal?

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal used government programs to help the nation recover from the Depression.

Major features of the New Deal
• Social Security
• Federal work programs
• Environmental improvement programs
• Farm assistance programs
• Increased rights for labor