is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America
, that emphasizes the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. 'Normalcy
' returned to politics in the wake of World War I
, jazz music
blossomed, the flapper
redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco
peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929
served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression
set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth and accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle
The social and societal upheaval known as the Roaring Twenties began in North America and spread to Europe in the aftermath of World War I. Europe spent these years rebuilding and coming to terms with the vast human cost of the conflict. The economy of the United States became increasingly intertwined with that of Europe. When Germany could no longer afford war payments Wall Street invested heavily in European debts to keep the European economy afloat as a large consumer market for American mass produced goods. By the middle of the decade, economic development soared in Europe, and the Roaring Twenties broke out in Germany (the Weimar Republic), Britain and France, the second half of the decade becoming known as the "Golden Twenties". In France and francophone Canada, they were also called the "années folles" ("Crazy Years").
The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, movies and radio proliferated 'modernity' to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality, in architecture as well as in daily life. At the same time, amusement, fun and lightness were cultivated in jazz and dancing, in defiance of the horrors of World War I, which remained present in people's minds. The period is also often called "The Jazz Age".
The Roaring Twenties is traditionally viewed as an era of great economic prosperity driven by the introduction of a wide array of new consumer goods
. The North American economy
, particularly the economy of the US
, transitioned from a wartime economy
to a peacetime economy; the economy subsequently boomed. The United States augmented its standing as the richest country
in the world, its industry aligned to mass production and its society acculturated into consumerism
. In Europe, the economy did not start to flourish until 1924.
In spite of the social, economic and technological advances, African Americans, recent immigrants and farmers—along with a large part of the working class population—were not much affected by this period. In fact, millions of people lived below the poverty line of US $2,000 per year per family.
The Great Depression demarcates the conceptualization of the Roaring Twenties from the 1930s. The hopefulness in the wake of World War I that had initiated the Roaring Twenties gave way to the debilitating economic hardship of the later era.
At the end of World War I, soldiers
returned to the United States and Canada with money in their pockets and many new products on the market on which to spend it. At first, the recession of wartime production caused a brief but deep recession, known as the Post-WWI recession
. Quickly, however, the U.S. and Canadian economies rebounded as returning soldiers re-entered the labor force
and factories were retooled to produce consumer goods.
Republican economic policies
Various policies initiated by the Republican Party
had a big impact on the boom. The government was associated with laissez faire
economics, which helped create the conditions for the boom. In 1922, the Fordney-McCumber tariff
was passed, allowing American businesses to flourish by protecting them from foreign competition. The Secretary to the Treasury
from 1921 to 1932, Andrew Mellon
, cut surtax
from above 50% to 20%. This aided corporate
industries, allowing them to dominate their respective markets.
New products and technologies
made technology affordable to the middle class. Many of the devices that became commonplace had been developed before the war but had been unaffordable to most people. The automobile
, and chemical industries
skyrocketed during the 1920s. Of chief importance was the automobile industry
. Before the war, cars were a luxury. In the 1920s, cheap mass-produced vehicles became common throughout the U.S. and Canada. By 1927, Henry Ford
had sold 15 million Model Ts
. Only about 300,000 vehicles were registered in 1918 in all of Canada, but by 1929, there were 1.9 million. The automobile industry's effects were widespread, contributing to such disparate economic pursuits as gas stations
, motels, and the oil industry
Radio became the first mass broadcasting medium. Radios were affordable, and their mode of entertainment proved revolutionary. Radio became the grandstand for mass marketing. Its economic importance led to the mass culture that has dominated society since. During the "golden age of radio", radio programming was as varied as TV programming today. The 1927 establishment of the Federal Radio Commission introduced a new era of regulation.
Advertisement reels, shown before early films, augmented the already booming mass market. The "golden age of film", during the 1930s and 1940s, evolved from its humble 1900s origins of short, silent films. Like radio, film was a medium for the masses. Watching a film was cheap compared to other forms of entertainment, and it was accessible to factory and other blue-collar workers.
The new technologies led to an unprecedented need for new infrastructure
, largely funded by the government
. Road construction was crucial to the motor vehicle industry; several roads were upgraded to highways
, and expressways
were constructed. A class of Americans emerged with surplus money and a desire to spend more, spurring the demand for consumer goods, including the automobile.
Electrification, having slowed during the war, progressed greatly as more of the U.S. and Canada was added to the electric grid. Most industries switched from coal power to electricity. At the same time, new power plants were constructed. In America, electricity production almost quadrupled.
Telephone lines also were being strung across the continent. Indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems were installed for the first time in many regions.
These infrastructure programs were mostly left to the local governments in both Canada and the United States. Most local governments went deeply into debt under the assumption that an investment in such infrastructure would pay off in the future. This caused major problems during the Great Depression. In both Canada and the United States, the federal governments did the reverse, using the decade to pay down war debts and roll back some of the taxes that had been introduced during the war.
was one of the most important trends. For the first time, more Americans and Canadians lived in cities than in small towns or rural areas. Mass transit
systems, the first skyscrapers
, and the growing importance of industry contributed to this. A growing service sector
was also increasingly important, with the finance
industries doubling or tripling in size. The basic pattern of the modern white collar
job is often believed to have been established during this period. Many of the clerical jobs went to women, who entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. In Canada, one in five workers were women by the end of the decade. The fastest growing cities were those in the Midwest
and the Great Lakes region
, including Chicago
. These cities prospered because of their vast agricultural hinterlands
. Cities on the West Coast
received increasing benefits from the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal
On August 18
became the last of 36 states needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment
, granting women the right to vote
. Equality at the polls marked a pivotal moment in the women's rights movement
The Lost Generation were young people who came out of World War I disillusioned and cynical about the world. The term usually refers to American literary notables who lived in Paris
at the time. Famous members included Ernest Hemingway
, F. Scott Fitzgerald
, and Gertrude Stein
As the average American in the 1920s became more enamored of wealth and everyday luxuries, some began satirizing the hypocrisy and greed they observed. Of these social critics, Sinclair Lewis
was the most popular. His popular 1920 novel Main Street
satirized the dull and ignorant lives of the residents of a Midwestern town. He followed with Babbitt
, about a middle-aged
businessman who rebels against his safe life and family, only to realize that the young generation is as hypocritical as his own. Lewis satirized religion with Elmer Gantry
, which followed a con man
who teams up with an evangelist to sell religion to a small town.
Other social critics included Sherwood Anderson and H.L. Mencken. Anderson published a collection of short stories titled Winesburg, Ohio, which studied the dynamics of a small town. Mencken criticized narrow American tastes and culture in various essays and articles.
was the style of design and architecture that marked the era. Originating in Belgium, it spread to the rest of western Europe and North America towards the mid-1920s.
In the U.S., one of the most remarkable buildings featuring this style was constructed as the tallest building of the time: the Chrysler Building. The forms of art deco were pure and geometric, even though the artists often drew inspiration from nature. In the beginning, lines were curved, though rectilinear designs would later become more and more popular.
Expressionism and Surrealism
in North America during the 1920s developed in a different direction than that of Europe. In Europe, the 1920s were the era of expressionism
, and later surrealism
. As Man Ray
stated in 1920 after the publication of a unique issue of New York Dada
cannot live in New York".
At the beginning of the decade, films were silent and colorless. In 1922, the first all-color feature, Toll of the Sea, was released. In 1926, Warner Bros. released Don Juan, the first feature with sound effects and music. In 1927, Warner released The Jazz Singer, the first sound feature to include limited talking sequences.
The public went wild for talkies, and movie studios converted to sound almost overnight. In 1928, Warner released Lights of New York, the first all-talking feature film. In the same year, the first sound cartoon, Dinner Time, was released. Warner ended the decade by unveiling, in 1929, the first all-color, all-talking feature film, On with the Show.
African-American literary and artistic culture developed rapidly during the 1920s under the banner of "The Harlem Renaissance
". In 1921, the Black Swan Corporation
opened. At its height, it issued ten recordings per month. All-African-American musicals also started in 1921. In 1923, the Harlem Renaissance Basketball Club
was founded by Bob Douglas
. During the later 1920s, and especially in the 1930s, the basketball team
became known as the best in the world.
The first issue of Opportunity was published. The African-American playwright, Willis Richardson, debuted his play The Chip Woman's Fortune, at the Frazee Theatre (also known as the Wallacks theatre). Notable African-American authors such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston began to achieve a level of national public recognition during the 1920s. African American culture has contributed the largest part to the rise of jazz.
The first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, began broadcasting in Pittsburgh in 1922. Radio stations subsequently proliferated at a remarkable rate, and with them spread the popularity of jazz. Jazz became associated with all things modern, sophisticated, and also decadent. Men tended to sing in a high pitched voice, typified by Harold Scrappy Lambert, one of the popular recording artists of the decade.
The music that people consider today as "jazz" tended to be played by minorities. In the 1920s, the majority of people listened to what we would call today "sweet music", with hardcore jazz categorized as "hot music" or "race music." Louis Armstrong marked the time with improvisations and endless variations on a single melody, popularizing scat singing, an improvisational vocal technique in which nonsensical syllables are sung or otherwise vocalized, often as part of a call-and-response interaction with other musicians on-stage. Apart from the clarinet, Sidney Bechet popularized the saxophone. Dance venues increased the demand for professional musicians and jazz adopted the 4/4 beat of dance music. Tap dancers entertained people in Vaudeville theaters, out on the streets or accompanying bands. At the end of the Roaring Twenties, Duke Ellington initiated the big band era.
Starting in the 1920s, ballrooms across the U.S. sponsored dance contests, where dancers invented, tried, and competed with new moves. Professionals began to hone their skills in tap dance and other dances of the era throughout the Vaudeville circuit across the United States. Electric lighting made evening social entertainment more comfortable, giving rise to an era of dance halls
and live music
. The most popular dances were the fox-trot
, waltz and tango, the Charleston
, and Lindy Hop
Harlem played a key role in the development of dance styles. With several entertainment venues, people from all walks of life, all races, and all classes came together. The Cotton Club featured black performers and catered to a white clientele, while the Savoy Ballroom catered to a mostly black clientele.
From the early 1920s, a variety of eccentric dances were developed. The first of these were the Breakaway and Charleston. Both were based on African-American musical styles and beats, including the widely popular blues. The Charleston's popularity exploded after its feature in two 1922 Broadway shows. A brief Black Bottom craze, originating from the Apollo Theater, swept dance halls from 1926 to 1927, replacing the Charleston in popularity. By 1927, the Lindy Hop, a dance based on Breakaway and Charleston and integrating elements of tap, became the dominant social dance. Developed in the Savoy Ballroom, it was set to stride piano ragtime jazz. The Lindy Hop remained popular for over a decade, before evolving into Swing dance. These dances, nonetheless, were never mainstreamed, and the overwhelming majority of people continued to dance the fox-trot, waltz and tango throughout the decade.
Immortalized in movies and magazine covers, young women’s fashion of the 1920s was both a trend and a social statement, a breaking-off from the rigid Victorian way of life. These young, rebellious, middle-class women, labeled ‘flappers’ by older generations, did away with the corset and donned slinky knee-length dresses, which exposed their legs and arms. The hairstyle of the decade was a chin-length bob, of which there were several popular variations. Make-up, which until the 1920s was not typically accepted in American society because of its association with prostitutes, became for the first time extremely popular.
The Changing Role of Women
With the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women finally attained the political equality that they had so long been fighting for. A generational gap began to form between the “new” women of the 20s and the previous generation. Prior to the 19th Amendment, feminists commonly thought that you could have a career or you could have husband and a family, but not both because one would inherently inhibit the development of the other. This mentality began to change in the 20s as more women began to desire not only successful careers of their own but also families. The “new” woman was less invested in social service than the Progressive generations, and in tune with the capitalistic spirit of the era, she was eager to compete and to find personal fulfillment.
The 1920s saw significant change in the lives of working women. World War I had allowed women to temporarily enter into industries that were once deemed inappropriate for them such as chemical, automobile, iron and steel manufacturing. Black women, who had been historically closed out of factory jobs, began to find a place in industry during World War I by accepting lower wages and replacing the lost immigrant labor and in heavy work. Yet like other of women during World War I, their success was only temporary and most black women, too, were pushed out of their factory jobs after the war. In 1920, seventy-five percent of the black female labor force consisted of agricultural laborers, domestic servants, and laundry workers. Legislation passed at the beginning of the 20th century forced many factories to shorten their workdays and pay a minimum wage. This shifted the focus in the 1920s to job performance in order to meet demand. Factories encouraged workers to produce more quickly and efficiently with speedups and bonus systems, increasing the pressure on factory workers. Despite the strain on women in the factories, the booming economy of the 1920s meant more opportunities even for the lower classes. Many young girls from working-class backgrounds did not need to help support their families as prior generations did and were often encouraged to seek work or receive vocational training which would result in social mobility.
Achieving suffrage meant having to refocus feminism. Groups such as the National Women’s Party (NWP) continued the political fight, proposing the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and working to remove laws that used sex to discriminate against women. But many women shifted their focus from politics to challenge traditional definitions of womanhood.
Young women especially, began staking claim to their own bodies and took part in a sexual liberation of their generation. Many of the ideas that fueled this change in sexual thought were already floating around New York intellectual circles prior to World War I, with the writings of Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, and Ellen Key. There, thinkers outed that sex was not only central to the human experience but that women were sexual beings with human impulses and desires just like men and restraining these impulses was self-destructive. By the 1920s, these ideas had permeated the mainstream.
The 1920s saw the emergence of the co-ed, as women began attending large state colleges and universities. Women entered into the mainstream middle-class experience, but took on a gendered role within society. Women typically took classes such as, home economics, “Husband and Wife”, “Motherhood” and “The Family as an Economic Unit”. In an increasingly conservative post-war era, it was common for a young woman to attend college with the intention of finding a suitable husband. Fueled by ideas of sexual liberation, dating underwent major changes on college campuses. With the advent of the automobile, courtship occurred in a much more private setting. “Petting”, sexual relations without intercourse became the social norm for college students.
Despite women’s increased knowledge of pleasure and sex, the decade of unfettered capitalism that was the 20s gave birth to the ‘feminine mystique’. With this formulation, all women wanted to marry, all good women stayed at home with their children, cooking and cleaning, and the best women did the aforementioned and in addition, exercised their purchasing power freely and as frequently as possible in order to better their families and their homes. This left many housewives feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
Minorities and homosexuals
In urban areas, minorities were treated with more equality than they had been accustomed to previously. This was reflected in some of the films of the decade. Redskin (1929) and Son of the Gods (1929), for instance, deal sympathetically with Native Americans and Asian Americans, openly reviling social bias. On the stage and in movies, black and white players appeared together for the first time. It became possible to go to nightclubs and see whites and minorities dancing and eating together. Even popular songs poked fun at the new social acceptance of homosexuality. One of these songs had the title "Masculine Women, Feminine Men. It was released in 1926 and recorded by numerous artists of the day and included the following lyrics:
Masculine women, Feminine men
Which is the rooster, which is the hen?
It's hard to tell 'em apart today! And, say!
Sister is busy learning to shave,
Brother just loves his permanent wave,
It's hard to tell 'em apart today! Hey, hey!
Girls were girls and boys were boys when I was a tot,
Now we don't know who is who, or even what's what!
Knickers and trousers, baggy and wide,
Nobody knows who's walking inside,
Those masculine women and feminine men!
Homosexuals also received a level of acceptance that was not seen again until the 1960s . Until the early 1930s, gay clubs were openly operated, commonly known as "pansy clubs". The relative liberalism of the decade is demonstrated by the fact that the actor William Haines, regularly named in newspapers and magazines as the number-one male box-office draw, openly lived in a gay relationship with his lover, Jimmy Shields. Other popular gay actors/actresses of the decade included Alla Nazimova and Ramon Novarro. In 1927, Mae West wrote a play about homosexuality called The Drag, and alluded to the work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. It was a box-office success. West regarded talking about sex as a basic human rights issue, and was also an early advocate of gay rights. With the return of conservatism in the 1930s, the public grew intolerant of homosexuality, and gay actors were forced to choose between retiring or agreeing to hide their sexuality.
The United States, and to a lesser degree Canada, became more xenophobic
or, at least, anti-immigrant
. The American Immigration Act of 1924
limited immigration from countries where 2% of the total U.S. population
, per the 1890 census
(not counting African Americans), were immigrants from that country. Thus, the massive influx of Europeans that had come to America during the first two decades of the century slowed to a trickle. Asians
and citizens of India
were prohibited from immigrating altogether. Alien Land Laws, such as California
's Webb-Haney Act
in 1913, prevented aliens ineligible for citizenship, (except Filipinos, who were subjects of U.S.) of the right to own land in California. It also limited the leasing of land by said aliens to three years. Many Japanese immigrants, or Issei, circumvented this law by transferring the title of their land to their American-born children, or Nisei, who were citizens. Similar laws were passed in 11 other states.
In Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 prevented almost all immigration from Asia. Other laws curbed immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. A Gentlemen's Act gave America the right to prevent any Japanese immigrants from entering the country.
In 1920, the manufacture
, sale, import
and export of alcohol
was prohibited by the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
in an attempt to alleviate various social problems
; this came to be known as "Prohibition". It was enacted through the Volstead Act
, supported greatly by churches and leagues such as 'The Anti Saloon League'. America's continued desire for alcohol under prohibition led to the rise of organized crime
, smuggling and gangster associations all over the U.S. In Canada, prohibition was only imposed nationally for a short period of time, but the American liquor laws
nonetheless had an important impact.
Rise of the speakeasy
Speakeasies became popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed and led to the rise of gangsters such as Al Capone. They commonly operated with connections to organized crime and liquor smuggling. While police and U.S. Federal Government agents raided such establishments and arrested many of the small figures and smugglers, they rarely managed to get the big bosses; the business of running speakeasies was so lucrative that such establishments continued to flourish throughout the nation. In major cities, speakeasies could often be elaborate, offering food, live bands, and floor shows. Police were notoriously bribed by speakeasy operators to either leave them alone or at least give them advance notice of any planned raid.
The Roaring Twenties was a period of literary creativity, and works of several notable authors appeared during the period. D. H. Lawrence
's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover
was a scandal at the time because of its explicit descriptions of sex.
Books that take the 1920s as their subject include:
Solo flight across the Atlantic
gained sudden great international fame as the first pilot to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean
, flying from Roosevelt Airfield
, Long Island
), New York
on May 20
-May 21 1927
. He had a single-engine airplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis
", which had been designed by Donald Hall
and custom built by Ryan Airlines
of San Diego, California
. His flight took 33.5 hours. The President of France
bestowed on him the French Legion of Honor
and, on his arrival back in the United States, a fleet of warships and aircraft escorted him to Washington, D.C.
, where President Calvin Coolidge
awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross
The Roaring Twenties is seen as the breakout decade for sports in America. Citizens from all parts of the country flocked to see the top athletes of the day compete in arenas and stadiums. Their exploits were loudly and highly praised in the new "gee whiz" style of sports journalism
that was emerging; champions of this style of writing included the legendary writers Grantland Rice
and Damon Runyon
The most popular American athlete of the twenties was baseball player Babe Ruth. His characteristic home run hitting heralded a new epoch in the history of the sport (the "Live-ball era"), and his high style of living fascinated the nation and made him one of the highest-profile figures of the decade. Fans were enthralled in 1927 when Ruth hit 60 home runs, setting a new single-season home run record that was not broken until 1961. Together with another up-and-coming star named Lou Gehrig, Ruth laid the foundation of future New York Yankees dynasties.
A former bar room brawler named Jack Dempsey won the world heavyweight boxing title and became the most celebrated pugilist of his time. College football captivated fans, with notables such as Red Grange, running back of the University of Illinois, and Knute Rockne who coached Notre Dame's football program to great success on the field and nation-wide notoriety. Grange also played a role in the development of professional football in the mid-1920s by signing on with the NFL's Chicago Bears. Bill Tilden thoroughly dominated his competition in tennis, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. And Bobby Jones popularized golf with his spectacular successes on the links; the game did not see another major star of his stature come along until Jack Nicklaus. Ruth, Dempsey, Grange, Tilden, and Jones are collectively referred to as the "Big Five" sporting icons of the Roaring Twenties.
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
ran on a promise to "Return to Normalcy
", a term he coined, which reflected three trends of his time: a renewed isolationism
in reaction to World War I, a resurgence of nativism
, and a turning away from the government activism
of the reform era. Throughout his administration, Harding adopted laissez-faire
policies. Harding's "Front Porch Campaign" during the late summer and fall of 1920 captured the imagination of the country. It was the first campaign to be heavily covered by the press and to receive widespread newsreel coverage, and it was also the first modern campaign to use the power of Hollywood
and Broadway stars who traveled to Marion
for photo opportunities
with Harding and his wife. Al Jolson
, Lillian Russell
, Douglas Fairbanks
and Mary Pickford
, were among the luminaries to make the pilgrimage to central Ohio
. Business icons Thomas Edison
, Henry Ford
and Harvey Firestone
also lent their cachet to the Front Porch Campaign. From the onset of the campaign until the November election, over 600,000 people traveled to Marion to participate. His administration was plagued with scandals with which he was likely not involved (see Teapot Dome
). On the scandals, he commented, "My God, this is a hell of a job!" and, "I have no trouble with my enemies, but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floors at night."
was inaugurated as president after the death of President Harding. He was easily elected in 1924 when he ran on a basis of order and prosperity. Coolidge made use of the new medium of radio and made radio history
several times while president: his inauguration was the first presidential inauguration
broadcast on radio; on 12 February 1924
, he became the first President of the United States
to deliver a political speech on radio, and only ten days thereafter, on 22 February
, he also became the first to deliver such a speech from the White House
. He is famous for his quotation "The chief business of the American people is business".
was the final president of the 1920s, taking office in 1929. He stated in 1928, "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty
than ever before in the history of any land."
Fall of labor unions
Several labor strikes
in 1918 and 1919 marked a turning point in American's view of labor unions
. State militias
began to be used to break up strikes and state officials started enacting criminal laws
against disturbances. Labor union membership fell drastically throughout the country. Radical unionism
declined as well, in large part because of Federal repression during World War I by means of the Espionage Act
and the Sedition Act of 1918
. Socialist Eugene V. Debs
had been sentenced to prison for 10 years as a result of the latter, although he was released early by Harding.
Canadian politics were dominated federally by the Liberal Party of Canada
under William Lyon Mackenzie King
. The federal government spent most of the decade disengaged from the economy and focused on paying off the large debts amassed during the war and during the era of railway over expansion. After the booming wheat economy of the early part of the century, the prairie provinces
were troubled by low wheat prices. This played an important role in the development of Canada's first highly successful third party
, the Progressive Party of Canada
that won the second most seats in the 1921 national election
. However the 1920s were also a decade of independence for Canada as the Balfour Declaration of 1926
End of the Roaring Twenties
The Dow Jones Industrial Stock Index
had continued its upward move for weeks, and coupled with heightened speculative
activities, it gave an illusion that the bull market
of 1928 to 1929 would last forever. On October 29 1929
, also known as Black Tuesday
, stock prices on Wall Street
collapsed. The events in the United States were the final shock to its economic system
which some people may regard as unsound, leading to a worldwide depression
known as the Great Depression
that put millions of people out of work across the capitalist
world throughout the 1930s.
Repeal of Prohibition
The 21st Amendment
, which repealed the 18th Amendment
, was proposed on February 20 1933
. The choice to legalize alcohol was left up to the states, and many states quickly took this opportunity to allow alcohol.
- Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only Yesterday:An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties. 1931.
- Best, Gary Dean. The Dollar Decade: Mammon and the Machine in 1920s America. Praeger Publishers, 2003.
- Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (1990)
- Cohen, Lizabeth. "Encountering Mass Culture at the Grassroots: The Experience of Chicago Workers in the 1920s," American Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 1989), pp. 6-33 in JSTOR
- Conor, Liz. The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s. (Indiana University Press, 2004. 329pp.).
- Cowley, Malcolm. Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s. (1934) online 1999 edition
- Dumenil, Lynn. The Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s. 1995
- Fass, Paula. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. 1977.
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- Kyvig, David E.; Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1939: Decades of Promise and Pain , 2002 online edition
- Leuchtenburg, William E. The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 (1958), influential survey by scholar
- Lynd, Robert S., and Helen Merrell Lynd. Middletown:A Study in Contemporary American Culture. 1929
- Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (1980)
- Noggle, Burl. Into the Twenties: The United States from Armistice to Normalcy. 1974.
- Lois Scharf and Joan M. Jensen, eds. The American Housewife between the Wars. Decades of Discontent: The Women's Movement, 1920-1940. Greenwood, 1983 .
- Frank Stricker, "Afluence for Whom? Another Look at Prosperity and the Working Classes in the 1920s," Labor History 24#1 (1983): 5-33
- Starr, Kevin. Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s. (1996) online edition
- Tindall, George Brown. The Emergence of the New South, 1913-1945 (1967) comprehensive history