What was life like for the average American in the Twenties?

What was life like for average, middle-class Americans during the Roaring Twenties? In a word,  good.

women-voters-281x300Some trends: women were included in the electoral process, most voted (white women, anyway) and more went to college. Jobs were plentiful–unemployment is estimated to have been below 5% for the entire decade. And people were working fewer hours. Until this decade, the six-day week, ten-hour day was the norm. In the Twenties, eight-hour days became the norm, as did five-day weeks. For example, Henry Ford changed to a five-day week for his factories in 1926. With the price of cars plummeting and more people working, car ownership grew. According to an article in the NY Times by Amity Shlaes, one quarter of American families owned a car in 1920 but half of all families did by 1930. Same with indoor plumbing: at the beginning of the decade, two out of ten American homes had flush toilets; by the end of the decade, half did. Vacuum cleaners–a miracle invention–started to penetrate middle class homes, along with a few other electric appliances, such as toasters.

For black Americans, things weren’t as good, but even they saw improvements. Lynching decreased; the Ku Klux Klan declined. Those who left the South found good-paying factory jobs. 220px-Chrysler_Imperial_E80_Touring_1926

These are all trends that I try to reflect in my Roaring Twenties mystery series. 

Published in: on June 22, 2013 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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