Students will be provided a brief overview of the 1920’s, receive instructions of the next three days, and divide into working groups.
Go over the background information provided below. Tell students that they will be dividing into groups, each group concentrating on a particular element of the 1920’s. They will have the next two days to research and plan a presentation for the class. The presentation is not to be a report but a representation of their topic – museum exhibit that may include: collage, short skit, radio show, video, etc.
Background about the 1920s
World War I is over and the world, the nation, and South Carolina are undergoing great changes and advances in technology. Having survived the Great War there is a sense of recklessness and a revitalization of the economy. Past values were challenged.
Dress, music, and dance were at times considered scandalous.
Art and literature underwent a revolution with movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Southern Literary Renaissance.
People wish to spend more and save less – and for those who can’t afford the latest advances, there is a credit system offered to buyers.
Technology such as Henry Ford’s assembly line brings automobiles, refrigerators, washing machines, toasters, telephones, etc. The rise of mass media brings motion pictures – silent then talkies, and radio shows.
The affordability of automobiles increases the ability to travel and the tourist industry. In South Carolina towns along US Highway 1 experienced an increase in business.
However the good times were not always good times – the Eighteenth Amendment brought about prohibition, a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages – and good times did not last long.
The demand for crops enjoyed during the war decreased. The boll weevil and drought were responsible for the destruction of fifty percent of the crops. Farmers could no longer meet their loan payments.
Textile mills were affected as demands for materials such as timber and cotton declined after the war. Mill workers worked long hours for little pay and were forced into poor living conditions.
Within their exhibit each group needs to include what influence their topic has had on today’s culture.
- Harlem Renaissance
- Southern Literary Renaissance
- Musical Revolution
- Fashion, Fads, and Trends
- Mass Media
- Trouble Comes
Once groups are formed give them a copy of their group assignment sheet. Each group has its own set of challenge questions to be incorporated within their exhibit.
Suggested websites and videos are included in the Instructional Materials section and should be shared with groups, however, students should be encouraged to research additional resources.
You will want to explore the reasons and groups behind the prohibition movement.
- What was the effect of prohibition – did it improve conditions or make them worse?
- Who are the characters associated with prohibition, what role did South Carolinians play (ex. Melvin Purvis).
- If you were going to enact a prohibition – what would you ban, why, how?
Harlem Renaissance, Southern Literary Renaissance, Musical Revolution Groups:
What were the key points for each of these artistic movements? Who were the key players in each? What forms of music/musicians were created during this time? Were any of these artists and writers from South Carolina?
Examples of names to explore:
- Harlem Renaissance – Aaron Douglas, Edwin Harleston, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Johnson, William Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage
- Southern Literary Renaissance – William Faulkner, Dubose Heyward, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams
- Musical Revolution - blues, jazz, ragtime, big band, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith
Fashion, Fads, and Trends Group:
- Fashion: How did fashion change from 1900 to the 1920’s? What were the reasons behind this change?
- Trends – how did popular dance change? Are there South Carolina connections? (the Charleston) What new technology was created? (ex. automobiles, household appliances) What effect did this have on everyday life? How was South Carolina affected by these trends? (ex. tourism, conveniences brought to rural areas)
Mass Media Group:
- What was the impact of radio and movies?
- What types of radio shows were popular at this time?( ex. Children’s Hour, Hop-a-long Cassidy, Mystery Hour, The Palmolive Hour, The Rise of the Goldbergs)
- Were there trends in movies? Actors? (ex. Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton)
Trouble Comes Group:
- World War I brought a demand for crops, what happened after the war? Did this demand continue? What additional elements impacted crop production and what was the effect on farmers at this time?
- Textile mills also grew during World War I – how were mills effected by the ending of the war and problems with crop production? What impact did the change in mills have on mill workers?
- The KKK began to grow again after World War I – how was this newer KKK different from the KKK as known after the Civil War? What brought about these changes?
Students will conduct research on their chosen group topic and plan their presentations. During this time as instructor you will serve as facilitator and coach – helping students find resources, staying on track, and offering suggestions when needed on how to conduct their presentations.
Students will make their presentations based on the group research.