Twentieth-Century Teen Culture by the Decades: A Reference Guide

By Lucy Rollin | Go to book overview

5
The 1950s

During the Fifties, public attention was focused on teens to an unprecedented degree in American culture. Even more than in the Twenties, being young was an enviable state. Even more than in the late Forties, when America looked benignly on its bobby-soxers and boys-next-door as embodiments of postwar vitality, teens occupied the fantasies of adults. In the Fifties, those fantasies were more polarized than ever before. Now America looked at its youth with a new mixture of hope and fear, of intense fascination and even, at times, terror.


POLITICS AND NATIONAL EVENTS

Throughout the decade, the national mood swung between the exuberance of the postwar economy and the lurking fears of Communist takeovers and hydrogen bombs. Teens were the chief beneficiaries of the booming economy, but they also felt the fears that divided the country.

The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin was clearly marked out as the enemy, whose aim it was to dominate the world. The "Iron Curtain" that had fallen between East and West when the Soviets captured Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia symbolized the trenched battle between the capitalist and the communist systems. When China too fell to the Communists and the Korean War erupted, Americans felt threatened as never before.

The year 1950 saw the crest of the wave of McCarthyism that had swept over the country leaving scarred lives and a bewildered public in its wake. In 1948 Whittaker Chambers, a confessed Communist with a shady past, accused Alger Hiss, a Harvard lawyer and the head of the Carnegie Endow-

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Twentieth-Century Teen Culture by the Decades: A Reference Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Early Decades, 1900-1920 1
  • References 30
  • 2 - The 1920s 33
  • References 65
  • 3 - The 1930s 67
  • References 100
  • 4 - The 1940s 103
  • References 145
  • 5 - The 1950s 147
  • References 195
  • 6 - The 1960s 197
  • References 238
  • 7 - The 1970s 241
  • References 268
  • 8 - The 1980s 271
  • References 305
  • 9 - The 1990s 309
  • References 357
  • A Note on Statistics 361
  • A Note on Sources 363
  • Appendix - A Sample of. Teen-Oriented Links, to the World Wide Web 367
  • Index 371
  • About the Author 397
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