Sputnik and the Space Race

On October 4, 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the first earth satellite into the orbit.  The launch of Sputnik marked the beginning of space race between the U.S and USSR. Many Americans feared that the USSR would be capable of launching ballistic missiles. In response to the launch, the U.S passed the National Defense Education which offered federal funding for higher education. The U.S also started funding for its satellite project to regain their military and technological superiority over USSR, as well as regaining the publics’ confidence. The launch of the Sputnik led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it also led to several technological advances such as computer science, global communication and satellite navigation.


A Ford For Everyone

During the 1950s, “the standard consumer package” [Foner 878] consisted of a home, television set and a car. The new Ford automobile opened up a new way to enjoy the many freedoms that life had to offer. The Ford symbolized a individual’s freedom and private choice that allowed him or her to travel where ever they please. With the later development of interstate highways, car owners were able to travel long distances for vacations. By the 1960s roughly 80 percent of american families owned a car and 14 percent owned two or more. This soon meant people would be able to commute to and from work everyday, regardless of the distance between them. Songs and advertisements constantly reminded car owners of the many ways to enjoy freedom with the purchase of a car.

This brought about a huge change in the car manufacturing and oil industry. The increasing demand for cars gave jobs to tens of thousands of factory workers and both the oil and auto manufacturing companies boomed. Profits soared as each year brought about a new and more advanced car that would easily go out of style that same year. The video above is just one of the many advertisements that advocated the advancement of the new Ford model car and used the theme of freedom to sell in the consumer market.


I am on your TV…vote for me

War hero President Ike Eisenhower campaign for presidency was the first time presidential commercials were use.  This helped the republicans win win the election, after 20 years of democrats being in office.  This along with Eisenhower promise to clean up the white house. This showed how presidents can not only show the themselves to the people, but how if marketed well, you can become president if you attract voter with advertisement.


Working Women

During World War II most of the men in America went to fight for their country leaving the women behind at home. Women didn’t just stay at home tending to their children they went out working industrial jobs. Women started to work in factories or taking over work on the farm. Since women started to work the famous “Rosie the Riveter” was the symbol for the most common job for women at the time.

After World War II things changed again for women. Most women had lost their jobs in the factories but they still continued to work. The level of employment for women had increased since World War II, working part-time to help support their family. Eric Foner book says “Despite the increasing number of wage earning women, the suburban family’s breadwinner was assumed to be male, while the wife remained at home.” Even though women try hard to work films, Tv shows, and advertisement portrayed that marriage life is the dream for every women.


Martin Luther King- “I have a Dream”


Martin Luther King is the most well known civil rights warrior who fought against the racial injustices against black people. King became an active in civil rights campaign during his protest in the Montgomery bus boycott, in which a black woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. The Montgomery bus boycott inspired King to fight racial inequality with non-violent protests. Consequently, many of Martin Luther King’s speeches and movements emphasize the black citizens as part of America, appeal to Christians with ideas from the bible, and scream for the establishment of freedom for other races.

The most famous speech given by Martin Luther King, “I have a Dream”, echoed the demand of equality and freedom, and envisioned the peace among whites, blacks, and people of other races. King’s speech also indicated that even in the 1960s, racial discrimination carried out by the white majorities and state governments were still prevailing. The same sort of racial suppression still persists even though the Civil War had ended one hundred years ago.


Breaking the rules!


This video depicts the actions of brave African Americans who boycotted on buses. One individual who was the driving force of these boycotts was Rosa Parks. According to Foner on December 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat on the city bus to a white rider. After is event, there began a year long boycott.

Today, we are reminded of Parks bravery. According to Foner, in 2000 Parks was named one of the 100 most significant people of the twentieth century in Time magazine. Her influence on many African Americans to stand up for their right can not be forgotten. As a result, in November 1956, the supreme court ruled segregation in public transportation unconstitutional ending the boycott in a triumph.


Barbies’ of the 1950s

In chapter 24, Foner discusses American people in  consumerism and freedom of consumer choice in the 1950s. After WWII Americans were desperate for anything, people had the eagerness to buy many things created an economic boom in the U.S. During this time period consumer values dominated the American economy and culture; mass productions of commercials were made to satisfy consumer’s wants and needs. Various commercials appealed people of all ages. Just like now a day advertisements of the 1950s evolved with just anything; automobiles, beverages, toys, the latest fashion trend, and other daily goods. The video footage above is an example of one TV commercial of barbies in the 1950s.


The 1950’s saw the television’s rise in popularity. “By the end of the 1950’s, nearly nine of ten American families owned a TV set.” This drastically changed American life. People started using the TV as a source of information. The job that once belonged to strictly the newspapers was moving on to other formats. America also began using TV as their number one leisure activity. They would watch shows like The Goldbergs, The Honeymooners, and Leave It To Beaver. However, the biggest impact that television had was through its advertisements.

Advertisements were now being seen on a mass scale, due to the amount of TV that was being watched across the country. Without Tivo most people would actually sit through the commercials, and some even found them entertaining. Jack Straus, the chairman of the board of Macy’s said, “The luxuries of today are the necessities of tomorrow.” What this means is that people are starting to think they need goods that were once considered luxuries. America started shifting into a consumer country. People were being “brainwashed” to buy all sorts of things. Items such as Levi’s or Coca-Cola were once items of the rich. Now, the entire population was buying everything they could. They were taking out loans, and buying on credit, both things that were not done before. The TV and advertisements really shifted the way Americans behaved. Above is a clip of a handful of television commercials from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I found them quite interesting. I hope you do as well.


Boom Boom Baby Boom!

During the 1950s many changes began to occur across the nation. The war was over, soldiers were coming home, and businesses started booming. As more skyscrapers were being built, residents were being pushed out to move into the suburbs causing a great rise in suburban communities. Not only was their a rise in the communities, but the average family began increasing and the baby boom occurred.

The average family had 4 children, as women began marrying younger to keep from pre-marital sex. The change in mentality from pre-war to post-war changed the way Americans lived. Feminism was no more and the technological advances such as the barcode and credit cards were invented.


Assignment due 4/11

Read Foner, Chapter 24.

Write a blog post displaying video footage or an image produced during the time period covered in the reading, and which reveals an important aspect of cultural or social change during that time.  Write 1-2 paragraphs relating the source to at least one section of the reading.