American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked

American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked

American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked

American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked

Synopsis

Contents: Introduction; The 1920s: Motor Vehicles and Modern Management; Overview: The Financial System; The 1930s: Depression, Consumers, and the Case of Procter and Gamble; Overview: Women in Business; The New Deal and World War II, 1933-1945: Regulation and Decentralisation; Overview: African Americans in Business; Toward a Peak of Prosperity, 1945-1973: RCA and Colour TV; Overview: Industrial Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals; 1973-2000: Slower Economic Growth, Franchising and the Case of McDonald's; Overview: Computers, Silicon Valley, and the Internet; Themes of an Era: 1920-2000.

Excerpt

The period from 1920 to 2000 was not a very long time—not much longer than the lifespan of the average American today. Yet our ancestors in 1920 lived very differently from the way we live in the twenty-first century. Momentous changes were already underway in 1920, but many daily routines were as much like those of 1840 as those of 2000. Some people were experiencing the exhilaration of driving an automobile, but at least as many still traveled by horse-drawn buggy. (About one of four U.S. households had a car in 1920, compared with more than nine of ten in 2000.) Large numbers of shoppers were buying branded processed foods such as Kellogg’s corn flakes, Nabisco crackers, and Crisco shortening; but lots of families were still canning their own vegetables and some were still churning their own butter.

In 1920 half of all Americans lived on farms or in towns of fewer than 2,500 people, and many communities lacked even railroad tracks to connect them with the rest of the country. About 25 percent of the labor force still farmed, compared with only 2 percent at the end of the century. Most Americans in 1920 never traveled more than a few hundred miles from where they were born.

Only a third of the nation’s homes had electricity in 1920, compared to nearly all in 2000. In 1920 the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry and other housework took between 60 and 70 hours per week. That number soon began to decline . . .

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