tv 1950s American Culture CSPAN August 31, 2017 9:00pm-10:13pm EDT
provider. next on lectures in history, hillsdale college professor teaches a class on 1950s american culture. he describes how post-world war ii society changed due to the baby boom, suburbization and teen culture. his class is about an hour and ten minutes. today we're going to start the third part of this course, the third theme of this course. it says there were three salient developments that characterized the united states after world war ii. the concentration of power and economic life, the continuation of american involvement in global affairs and the collapse of traditional few daden
christian moral and standards. that's what we're going to talk about today the culture of the 1950s. ever since historians have paid more attention to what's regarded as the '60s cultural rev lugds, really had its seeds planted. so i want to share what the victorian was like. the little piece i gave you from william o'neil's book from "america 1945" describes some of the cultural assumptions. but much like the term liberalism, victorianism was actually liberal in its day.
it was really an advance upon earlier pre-modern cultural pattern. much as liberalism in the 19th century was a progressive new saying and principles of the classic liberalism of the 1970s is considered progressive today. they were advanced or progressive with regard to old world or premodern. if you look at how basic things how families are formed over the course of a historic development, the old-fashioned or traditional way was arranged marriage. the victorians made that more consensual and voluntary. children were allowed to pick
who their patterns were, but the process was still controlled through the rituals of courtship. there were still certain rules and regulations applied to it. whereas today we have evolved to hooking up, where it's common as many college campuses not in hillsdale. i still don't understand what hills dating is, but maybe you could explain it to me. but large herds of men and women drink together and fornicate. that's sort of what the process of courtship has evolved into. and then the prehysteric unit of socialization was the tribe and over the course of time this was reduced to the extended family. in the victorian period this is the nuclear family. where you had essentially parents and children, one
generation living together. over the course of the 20th century this evolve said into single parents or groups that are sort of not just a nuclear family but a subatomic family, a child and two parents and any combination in the household. so sort of a progressive devolution of these social forms. the victorian moral standard was really those promoted pie the methodist. the victorian morals were necessary as a way of maintaining social order in a rapidly changing world, and the same thing applies in america in the 20th century. there's also an element of what
you call post-millennyism. victorian social reformers in the 19th century believed the sort of protestant ridge provided a way of dealing with problems that played a role since the beginning. you can see this with the free will baptists, very active in the anti-slavery movement, the free will movement. all those reform movements, the campaigns against drinking, campaigns in favor of keeping the sabbath, prison reform, the thing that brought -- due to democracy in america really all had their origins in this predominantly evangelical movement. that we can christianize the social order, that we can bring about the perfect society on earth. and thelogically this is known as post-millennialism.
it's a kind of perfectionism in 19th century america. the traditional view that jesus christ would come to initiate. this movement is more characteristic of post-millennialism. this movement has its origins in ridge, especially protestant christianity. but over the course of time sort of out lived its protestant origins. you can see this especially in benjamin franklin. you all read some selections of his autobiography, and you see the way benjamin franklin though he had lost his traditional up brnging still advocated cruised to be referred to as the protestant work ethic in the autobiography. all those things of frugality,
thrift, temperance, turned out to be for the purpose of advancing and success in this world. the way to wealth, the way to improve society, the material conditions of the world are very useful, frankly. so you can see the utility of the old puritan values, even though he doesn't think they have any religious significance anymore. and anyway benjamin franklin sort of the out standing figure of the american dream, the self-made man. that if you simply follow these moral principles, if you cultivate these virtues there'll be moral success in the world and if you ply this as a whole, that social problems can be solved wii the cultivation of these religiously based virtues. this is rooted in the understanding of the nature of man.
one that goes back to the origins of western civilization. the idea of the dual nature of man. that we were creatures that had a rational and an animal element. and part of the job of human beings is to make sure their rational capacities would control their animal capacitiesch. and humans had the ability to transcend, your self-control and moral improvement was what morality and virtue was all about. benjamin franklin, you can see his quest for moral perfection, that he was going to eliminate all his moral devises. he was going to achieve personal
perfection. so moderation or temperateness would be the moltivation here. you may remember originally in the movie humphrey bogart, he's a drunkard and he's all hung over. and he's pleading with catherine hepburn saying you've got to understand -- what was her name -- it's only human nature. and she says human nature is what we're put on this earth to over come. this is what the victorian moral drama is all about. the individual effort and sort of the social effort to over come our vices and to be able to control ourself to transcend our lust and our vices and our animal nature, right? so self-control is the chief victorian virtue. i want to show you an example of this from major league baseball, 1947. this is joe dimaggio, as an
example of this self-control type. demad dimaggio is famous for not controlling his emotions. it was 1947 world series, yankees against the dodgers. and he was batting and two men on base. he hits a long fly ball and certainly would have been a home run and was caught by the dodger's home fielder. look at this clip. it was very quick. and not look so much at the catch but at dimaggio's reaction. >> he makes a one-handed catch. >> when dimaggio kicked the dirt like that, that was as emotive as he ever got.
he had such self-control, that was the remarkable thing about that play. when you compare this in the way athletes today express themselves on field you can see the difference between that old model and the new model. and joe dimaggio, for a generation of eamericans demaumg yo really did incapsulate that sort of old idea of the greatest generation of stowic self-control. was that the same year -- broke in, yes, it was. a very important year in american cultural history. and also important because dimaggio was an italian-american. and italian-americans have a reputation for having less self-control an british
protestants. again, these were cultural stereo types. but the fact that dimaggio had absorbed this anglo-american stoic demeanor. dimaggio was known as -- that's a term you don't hear much anymore. but we live in the moderate epicenter those sort of mediterrane mediterranean dissent. they're adopting this sort of standard of victorian. that's sort of the individual. they sort of struggle for self-control in the individual. to have your rational capacities control your emotions. likewise social policy follows the same model. do everything we can to get
individuals to control themselves. in other words, social policy is supposed to award virtue and punish vice. we want our social institution, our political institution, our cultural institution to help cultivate these virtues and minimize these vicess. one of the most interesting things about america in the 19th century and into the 20th century. and one of the things that's changing fundamentally is you had a laissez-faire economy -- combined with that, though, was a great deal of cultural and social control. the federal government doesn't get involved with this very much. but local and state governments did a great job of policing moral and cultural, in
constitution parliament's this is known as police power. there was a great deal of controlsert of culturely or morally. and today it's rather just the opposite. we have a highly regulatedchy but the cultural is libitarian. so that's sort of a great transformation for america over the last century or so. but you'll see these institutions were designed in a way to make sure people were able to manage the economic freedom they have by the dultivation of these virtues. if you engage in the right kind of behavior, if you're frugal and zraes and temperament, it will lead to economic success. they saw a connection not a discordance between a laissez-faire economy. and the family of victorians was
monogamous, and it was heterosexual, right. >> the family was a nuclear family and between one man and one woman only. but, again, to emphasize the ways in which victorian sort of social standards were different than earlier ones, it was still voluntary. no arranged marriages. the family was much more based on a affection rather than interest and compulsion. it was the modern nuclear family. it comes into the shape in the 19th century and comes into norm in the 20th century. the interest for divorce was still limited. legally no state had divorce law until the 1960s. divorce was legally made to be
expensive and difficult to obtain. i can remember in the 1970s where divorce was rather scandalous. over time it's lost that stigma. but in this period divorce was still something unusual, something that was socially frowned upon. it was also politically fatal. people like nelson rockefeller was more or less inelvableigible to be president of the united states because he had been divorced. there was supreme court who had been divorced. it still had a significant muto it because it was this threat. and social policy the assumption was -- and this goes back to benjamin franklin -- vice is what led to poverty and not vice versa. the idea today of social sciences of the 20th century
comes to see that people engage in bad behavior because of their economic conditions. the victorian assumption is just the opposite. people are poor it's because they have engaged in vice behavior and not vice versa. this is why it's important to adopt the welfare statement because it would have inverted and interrupted this assumption people make. one of the things that changed this assumption was the great depression. if you have 25% of the population out of work it can't be because of their morals. something has broken down in the economic system, and that's one of the chief reasons why the new deal became acceptable. >> is the moral argument the same argument they made for the
prohibition argument? >> go too far, and you'll see one of the ways in which progressives took the moral argument on temperance -- the idea of moderating as opposed to absolutely abolishing. absolutely, that's one of the reasons why prohibition was adopted and the 18th amendment was repealed by the 21st amendment. so the old standard of distribution to the poor, charity had to be limited to the deserving poor as they were called. the victorians recognize some people are poor just because of bad luck, widows and orphans essentially. people not because of vicious behavior are suffering from poverty. those people you can take care of. those are the deserving poor. most of the poor, you have to allow them to suffer the
consequences from their behavior. that's the only way they're going to reform. so you don't want give charity to undeserving poor. again, one of the chief reasons on the limititatiation of the we state. this is one of the arguments against an income tax. an income tax is a tax on people with high incomes. so why tax them? this is discouraging productive behavior. you don't want to do that anymore you want to encourage vicious behavior by giving well tear f fair to the undeserving poor. those are sort of the assumptions between the connection of moral and economic outcomes that continued into the
20th century but really taking a beating especially with the great depression. thus when charity was administered what was called indoor relief. what we want to do is take the deserving poor outside of their morally dangerous environment and put them into asylums or orphanages where we can protect them from the temptations of vice. the goal here was to improve the moral environment of the poor and remove them from circumstances of vish neighbors. and again the whole asylum movement was about. this is what prison reform was about. not just to punish people who had committed crimes but to morally -- likewise for orphans, you wanted to take them out of their neighborhoods and put them into institutions where they could be taught the right kind
of behavior. and this is all an ideal. these institutions didn't always work this way. likewise, there were lots of laws especially again at the state and local level that were meant to express vice and help people control themselves by removing the temptations to drink too much or take drugs or gamal beand all these other things. so this idea those kind of the police regulations was perfectly legitimate was something the government did do. as ian just pointed out this was something between temperance. in the early 20th century began to do so until the whole nation took a constitutional amendment to do it. the whole nation adopted briefly prohibition. the victorians generally helped
to a double standard. males had more of a sex drive that females did and that prostitution was sort of an outlet that needed males to have. and so the thing to do about prostitution was to establish a red-light district where prostitution would be limited and regulated rather than trying to do away with it all together. before world war i especially every major american city used have its district that was known where prostitutes were available. people would tell you the story this was the case in hillsdale, michigan because it was legally tolerated in these districts. the progressives, though, held to a stricter standard than this. especially when the 19th century feminists, what was known as the purity movement, they objected to the social standard not because they wanted women to engage in the same kind of
sexual behavior as males bullet they wanted males to exercise self-control as females did and so they campaigned against prostitution all together. finally with world war i when the federal government made it requirement if you wanted an army base camp in your city you had to do away with drinking and prostitution. so the red light districts in america pretty much disappeared with world war i. another example would be the white sleeve act. congress passed this in 1910, and it made it a federal crime to trance port women across state lines for immoral purposes. it was designed to get at commercial prostitution. but later came to be applied to any kind of elicit sexual relations where state lines were crossed or any trysting that took place across state lines.
if any woman was having sex with a man who wasn't her husband, she was a de facto prostitute. so it was this law that was designed to get at the institution of prostitution ended up sort of being a nati nationwide camp pane. although today states actually promote gambling the idea being lottery proceeds are going to go to education, some states even prohibited the -- one of the ways the federal government got involved with this was it was a federal crime to trance port lottery tickets across state lines. and every state suppressed gambling. it was trying to remove temptation devices that will allow people to improve their morals. likewise, every american church
condemned artificial contraception until about 1930. i think it was the epass cupellians that were the first to accept contraception. we'll see later when other states repealed laws. the catholic church was about the only hold out and the supreme court is going to sweep away the last of these state laws, prohibiting the use of contraception. also congress tried to help the states through various laws known as the comstock act. it was kind of the crusader against the sexual vice. and it made it a federal vice to use federal mails for anything that was obscene or immoral. and that included any information about abortion or contraception, and just one of the ways federal governments with a postal power tried to
help the states in their regulation of sexual muroll. another ind kagds of this would be a certain decision reached a high point. there was a revival of male circcome scission in the 1940s that had not been religious. christians didn't have to be circumcised as jews did. but for the reason of sexual hygiene and would help males exercise more self-restrapt was probably the -- there are all these signs here of encouraging self-control by the prohibition of these various practices. all of this is especially concentrated among as i said american protestants and
especially pietistic protestant denominations. again, methodists, evangelicals of various kinds. as opposed to your pupisc pailians and e -- part of the reason why protestants were suspicious of american catholics is they didn't sort of fit into the this american culture enthusiasm for social reform. again, the protestant assumption here i'm talking about is that we can sort of achieve perfection in this world by the cultivation of these morals. and traditional catholics were suspicious of that. catholics were considered too lenient about sin.
and catholics were sort of other worldly in the way the protestant vision i'm talking about here is about perfecting the world we live in. and the traditional protstptism tended to protect the next world than this world. this ether is but a veil of tears, a place of vanishment of fears. catholics had sort of a fatalistic view that life on this earth is not about achieving perfection and improvement. it's something you have to suffer through. so catholics just don't have an inclination to try to make these sort of inclusions that evangelicals are about. success or poverty in this world may not have a clear connection between people's morality and behavior. that sometimes the wicked do
achieve great wealth and success, and sometimes good people are reduced to poverty. catholics are just kind of not with this program of protestant perm and social improvement. but since most americans are broadly speaking protestants in one way or another, this is sort of the cultural tone of the 19dth and 20th century. and thus it was promoted in public education. reading the bible, this kind of encouragement to the protestant work ethic in american schools was just taken for granted. they understood public education was essentially protstpt
education. so american public life even though you have no established church in the united states, there was this broad nondenominational protestant culture, but the widely shared sort of few djewdeo christian - unraveling of the traditional judado christian logic, you can see this unraveling. for americans you really begin to see this in the 1920s. the disillusionment after world war i. but then it was sort of interrupted by the great depression and the world. and the 1950s are really part of
that. this is why you don't really begin to see american society unravel until the 1960s, especially with the decline of cold war tensions as well as demographic factors like the baby boomers coming of age began to kick in. so the 1950s is sort of a period of hiatus where people are still security conscious. they still place a great deal on the family and social order because of the traumatic impact of the depression and the world war. the this is why the 1950s are considered a conservative decade, even though i said historians tend to emphasize the way of which their sort of continuity from the beginning of the 20th century. so the popular image of the 1950s is a decade of conformity, that americans were other directed is one of the phrases
that sociologists used. there was less individualism than earlier there had been or later there would be. the idea was the old sort of protestant work ethic was about inner directed. about you sort of having some fixed absolute standard, one that largely came from religion and following that. that there was a sort of healthy kind of american individualism out of this inner directedness. and america in 1950s you had the society and the culture and the economy dominated by large organizations. a period where the american economy was dominated more than ever before since by a small
number of large corporations. we've talked about the ways of which new deal economic policy and the war itself tended to dauns trait american business in the mid-20th century. workers tend to be members of large industrial unions. in fact 1955 was the high point of union density. and of course government. the new deal had had established a big stral government that we had never seen before. and a large part of that, too, is the centralized media in the 20th century. you had a small number of large networks. nothing like sort of the array of news outlets like you people
have today. >> did large corporations of the centralized government also combine with -- >> yeah, big governments, big corporations in the 20th century because we've given up the laissez-faire idea with the new deal. the new deal established you couldn't have large industrial unions without the wagoner act. likewise the new policy was to help reduce compication, reduce individualism within the marketplace and have cartels or organizations. the new deal liberalism hasn't adopted the cultural liberalism that you associate with today. so someone like fdr or many of the new dealers, they did attack the laissez-faire economic
assumptions of victorianism but they did not have in mind homosexual rights or abortion rights or that kind of stuff. they were still very victorian in their social, cultural, moral believes. that's all going to change very rapidly in the 1960s. but there are some a vante guard. oscar wilde, an essay he wrote in 1990, it's a perfect illustration of this connection between the economic and the moral. you should all read that. wilde makes the argument that once socialism takes care of the economic problem -- you have to believe that economic is going to take care of the social. then the individual will be free to create himself in any way
that he wants. marx makes a similar argument. that every individual will be able to be like oscar wilde. economic socialism, collectivism in the economy is what leads to cultural individualism. but in the 1950s we're sort of in a transitional phase where we have to some degree collectivize the economy. it's not socialist either but we have not embarked at least on the main stream of that cultural moral overturn. and the family in the essential of this. again, this is why sort of the popular images of the 1950s are
very domestic. the certain father knows best sitcom image. a return to normal family life. ask you have this great sort of domestic explosion in the united states. by the way, it was limited to the united states. this didn't happen in western europe. it didn't happen in japan after world war ii. this is puculiarly an american thing. and most hissierians trying to explain this is that american wurz more rimgs s than western europeans. the more religious you are, the more family oriented you are.
part of the reason for the demographic implosion that we talked about on day one, those population pyramids, it's closely correlate today the decline of religious observance. about 76 million children were born between 1967 and 1974. that's sort of the peak of the baby boom bulge. to give you one example of what a massive and sudden increase in births this was, more children were born in the five years after world war ii than had been born in the 30 years before world war ii. again, this is a tremendous expansion, trumepd s boom in the population. the average female marriage rate
it been about 26 in the 1990s and had fallen bele20 in 1926. it means that someone got married younger than that, reached a low point. also much more important were younger women who were marrying earlier and starting earlier so that the average american woman in the 1920s had her last child when she was 26 years old. the first time are read this i thought that's a typo. no, they were done having children at age 26. and today most women don't start having children until they're 26, and that leaves them more time to have children the earlier it starts. another thing about the baby boom is there was no part of the
population that was not affected by it. usually when we talk about sort of large scale social phenomenon, you start talking about differences based upon race, class, ridge, but there was none of that. it affected the same for blacks, whites, poor, riff. it was usually immigrants who had higher birth rates. it was usually less educated people have more children than more educated people, but it's the opposite in the 1950s. also very unusual. also it's not that americans were sort of returning to the 18th century family practices, having large families. most family in the baby boom generation had three or four children. but what made the numbers so vast was almost known had no
children. almost everybody had three or four children. there are very few childless couples and very few people who didn't get married. again, the incidence of marriage in the 1950s was still very high. i think we talked about this in the first day of class. i think it was recently that a majority of the adult women are not married, first time this has happened in american history. a vast majority of marriage age men and women are married in the 1950s. the other thing is more children live. the greatest thing that kept the population down through all of history was infant mortality. the idea that half of children wouldn't make it through their first year and thus wouldn't produce the next generation.
the trumepd s increase was due to a decline of infant mortality rate. disease like polio and most dramatic stories was the conquest of polio, which was a terrifying disease that affected young people. fdr having been affected by polio later in life. diseases like diphtheria, rubella vaccines were developed through those. 37,000 polio cases in 1954 was below 1,000 by 1962. it was almost completely eradicated. the year before i was born, that was a great rubella out break that produced 30,000 miscarriages. these kind of epidemic diseases are unalmost unheard of today.
those children are now living longer as a result of these medical advances. another thing that comes out of the baby boom was especially this generation of american women had not themselves been part of large families or extended families. one of the best selling books in all of american history was benjamin spock's book on child care. a vice of these large number of young women who are having children. and many people have pointed to spock's book towards this movement of the cultural movement of the 1960s that i've been talking about, that spock was responsible for the generation of the 1960s, that his advice to raise children by per missive standards is what accounts for social turmoil of the 1960s. which one of you is doing spock
as your reading assignment? that's one of the myths of this book. spock was relatively permissive. the old standard in the 19th century was children are little delves, and their wills need to be broken. that's what child rearing was all about. spock compared to that was much more indullgent but not by later standards of permissive parenting. there were also things he advised that american people didn't follow. he counseled on breast-feeding, and that's made a big come back, though. when i was a child breast-feeding was out of fashion and formulas were the ways babies were raised. and in his book he sort of assumed boys were boys and girls were girls. so by today's standards spock
was something of a sort of reactionary. what really made spock a controversial figure was his opposition to the vietnam war. and then people projected his sort of anti-war liberalism onto his child rearing books. but that's something of a distortion. so american families are expanding a great deal in the 1950s, and mostly taken place in the suburbs. 19 a 55 is also a landmark year because it's the year more americans live in suburbs. 1920s it was an urban nation where more people lived on farms than in cities. the suburban population doubled. by 1970 the suburbs included
more people than cities and farms combined. so the country was a majority suburban nation. and about a million acres of farmland was being developed into suburban housing every year. so the american landscape is changing foundmentally by this demographic change. about 83% of the population increased. and the 1950s were the decade of greatest population increase in american history with maybe the exception of the first or second daek aid of the 20th century. and it was all notably driven by natural increase. the american population had increased in the past because of both national increase put also because of immigration. by the 1950s immigration had almost been completely cut off. so this is all homegrown. every major american city in the
1950s lost population, except los angeles. los angeles is something of a suburban sprawl itself. it's not really a concentrated city. also one of the political consequences of this is that big cities begin to lose their dominance in the state. so that boston doesn't dominate massachusetts it way it used to. new york declined from 55 to 45% of new york state's population in this period. there's been something of a reurbanization movement. boston went from being 18 to om9% of massachusetts' population. chicago, losing to the suburbs in illinois. cleveland went from being 13% of ohio population to 4% of ohio population. and detroit likewise.
once third of michigan's population was in detroit. so, again, there's a great tide of exodus from cities into the suburbs. what's happening in a lot of big american cities is that the native born white population is moving ot to the suburbs. talked about many ways the subsidies encouraged urbanization, highway act, banking policies, federal loans and things like that were racially discriminatory. so it was hadder for blacks to move to the suburbs. and the population of those cities were being replaced by black migrants from the south. also porto ricans.
so the demographics of american cities changes a great deal in the 1950s. all right, domestic culture. television would be the most important sort of illustration of this. the development of television right about the beginning of the 1950s. you can say in the beginning of the 1950s it starts out virtually nobody has a television and then by the end everybody has a television. the number between 70,000 to 19 million. radio really took off in the 1920s. right after world war i almost no one had a radio and bake sort of a massive consumer product,
one of the fastest growing consumer industry. likewise automobiles. henry ford making mass production automobiles available to ordinary americans. what then becomes a mass produced consumer good. likewise, the telephone. these devices all were rapidly adopted but television was more rapidly adopted than any other. it may well be smartphones i haven't looked into this, i can remember a type where nobody has one and suddenly everybody has one. i would imagine the growth cuff for those was faster than television. television was a rapid culturally transforring phenomena. the important thing about television is it's connected to the family. it sort of replaces the fireplace as the center of the home. that's the heather. it's the thing that the family gath areas around and brings the american people together. and it's replacing what had been previously the dominant form of
popular entertainment and the biggest entertainment industry in the united states, motion pictures, the movies. in the 1946, it the peak of american movie attendance, about 90 million americans went to the movies every week in 1946. about 60% of americans let's say wen to the movies each week. and that fell to about 45 million a week, half, by 1953. and this is perron still falling because of later technological innovations like vcrs and dvds or whatever that netflix, whatever it is, streaming, people don't go to the movies the way they used to. >> patterson says television broke down the family unit because they're watching and not talking. do you disagree with that? into it is something that movies you could say bring people together and the description patterson gives of movie theater
as cultural sort of civic institutions, very ornate, had a lot of services and began to decline as a result of television. certainly television reduces personal interaction. television is a mass produced commodity and so one of the things that it's doing is sort of a homogenizing american tastes. broadcast media where everyone's watching the same things is one of the things that is sort of making american life sort of bland and sort of interchangeable. it's true that television may well reduce the amount of say sort of culture that vils produce by conversation and by personal interaction. there's truth to that. there is a degree in which there are sort of cross currents in these cultural developments. television of course, when it started out in the early 1950s, when you had to have some money for television because they were still expensive, the programming
changed over the course of the 50s, as well. initially, there was a lot of high quality kind of high culture television. things that were applied from the stage to early television. and as the audience got bigger as it became more of a mass audience, the quality of television declined in the 1950s. cultural critics made a lot out of that, as well. whenever you mass produce something, it's always going to be pitched toward the lowest common denominator. what's the largest audience share you can get, the quality will be reduced more people have access but the quality of it at least by some people's standards declines. okay. new york city, 55 movie theaters closed in new york city in just the year 1951 alone. this is changing the urban landscape. movie thees replaces that drew people out of their homes and put them together in social space whereas television is
reinforcing this idea of the family as the basic social unit. the only growth in movie theaters was naturally drive-ins in the 1950s because as america became more car oriented in the 1950s, that's the only place in which there was expansion in outdoor movie watching. also, television changed the preferences that americans had for sports. football was more well an dapped to television than baseball was. and this is the period in which football and later on basketball began to compete with baseball as the american pasttime. television had a lot to do with that. people to this day will tell you had he prefer to listen to a baseball game on the radio than to watch it. whereas these other sports lend themselves more to the visual of television than to the old radio format. so television, you be sort of take it for granted today because the application of this idea of the image being and available to people.
you have to imagine how new that was to people in the 1950s, right? that radio by bringing sound, the radio and phonograph into the home had a similar impact. television changes that very dramatically. you're so used to having what i would still call television at your fingertips. you're sort of watching television or ins all the time. some of you might we'll be doing that now if i didn't for bid you to bring your phones into the classroom. the ubiquitousness of this you have to imagine what it was like when this was all together was new, the idea of the image available for television was cutting edge. another consequence of the baby boom was the development of a separate youth culture within the united states. the whole idea of adolescence, the teenager is something that's new in western civilization in the 20th century. for one thing, the united states became a lot younger country in
the 20th century and as a result of the baby boom. the peddian age after the united states in this period fell to a little over 28. that was the average american was 28 years old. over 38 today. the population has been aging ever since the baby boom. the so-called teen population and again, this is a cohort that really sociologists and people didn't recognize till the 20th century, there being a distinct teen phase of life or adolescence was a relatively recent development. so the teen nich or cohort increased, doubled from 10 million to 20 million between 1950 and 1970. all kinds of economic effects. we'll talk principally about the cultural effects and effects in there being a separate youth culture especially. again, in traditional society, there was no such thing as being a teenager. you were a child, and then usually at some point that sort of coincided with biological
sexual maturity, you became an adult. there was usually an initiation process by which you went from being a child to being an adult. as western society and as the economy as all these demographic changes take place there comes an extended period between childhood and adulthood the teen years begins to take on an independent sort of population cohort, a kind of demographic. the number of years that people spent in school also was an ten yeaed. it used to be at about the age of adulthood, let's say, most people didn't go to school beyond the eighth grade, didn't need to in sort of 19th society, they spend more and more time in school, extenting this period of adolescence. only about 13% of the high school aged population, right, between say 14 to 18, were actually in high schools in 1900. high school was the thing that
was limited to a small segment of the population, right? high school was a big deal. only for the few, for the elite. that's increased rapidly over the course of the 20th century. about half the population that is high school age is in high school in 1930. increased to 75% by 1950. almost everybody. by 1965, almost everybody who is high school age is in high school. half of them go on to college. if you look at the college numbers, similar kind of replication. in the late 19th century almost nobody went to college and it's increasingly common today. today about two-thirds of americans spends at least some time in college. only about half of them finish. about one-third of the population are college graduates. the vast majority of people spend some time now in higher education. look what was for high school in the 20th century. again, all of this is sort of extending the period of time this period of adolescence. so you get a separate youth culture, right?
again, advertisers are looking at this, young people begin to adopt their own styles of dress, the kind of music they listen to is very different. there's a kind of segregation, a separation of youth culture from mainstream culture. and what you had was people who are physically adults, one of the things that happens in the 19th and 20th century is biologically speak, men and women became sexual lima tour at an earlier age, probably because of increased better nutrition and things like that. people are biologically adults did earlier but not expected to behave like adults especially to make a living for themselves till much later. so you have biological adults without adult responsibilities. they're still dependent upon their families and this dependence is being increased further and further. right? many of you may be thinking about this today. what are you going to do after you graduate from college in apparently i don't know what the numbers are, but an increasing number of college graduates go home and continue to live with
their families. right? one of the big points in the obamacare debate was prey trump said that he wants too maintain the ability for kids to be on their parents' health insurance till they're like 26 years old. 26 is about the age which we might expect young people to go out and start making a living for themselves. that's what i'm talking about the tension of the period of economic social dependence while you have earlier biological maturity. here are the college numbers. about 2 million americans went to college in 1940. that quintuples and reaps 10 million by 1973. that's further expansion of this youth culture. also, more disposable income. yeah. >> go back quickly to your comment about biological adults first. >> social adults. >> right. so but what about there's
evidence psychologically we're not really adults, precore text development finishes at 25 i think. was there any belief in this in the 1950s, that psychologically, they're not fully developed as adults? >> well, again, the question of whether people are psychologically adults as opposed to reproduce, that's what i'm talking about here, people are able to reproduce without producing economically. right? the idea that you're emotionally not your full self till you're in your 19, 20s, i'm not familiar with any work about that in the 1950s. there certainly was a sense in which this idea that -- this is a good way to put it. that children or adult adolescents instead of taking their social cues and being an cult rated by the previous generation, are getting it from their peers. it is peer rather than an adult
an culture ration that's taking place. people are worried about this and patterson talks about the many people who thought juvenile delinquency was a big problem. this next generation was go be running wild. we talking about rock 'n' roll and see what the musical expression of that was. exaggerated but because nobody had seen before this such a large number of people who were in this sort of twilight zone belongcally and economically. but there are -- aristotle said you shouldn't start to the study philosophy till you're in your 30s. you're not mature enough to understand it till then. >> argument to be made that even though buy longcally we gaip became dulls did younger but emotionally becoming adults later because of school and not having to sort of do adult things at a very young age like
military and stuff. they're not being forced to grow up at an early age. >> you have the idea that children don't have to engage or be socially adults till a much later date because societies provides for them. their paints provide for them. they have disposable income. in the early 20th century, even the adults didn't have much disposable income. there wasn't much money to spend on entertainment. now the adults have it and allow their kids to have it and able to indulge in the kind you have consumer culture patterson zprinz deferring the aim which people have to be adults is certainly taking place here. this had never happened before in human history. no society had the resources to be able to support such a large seg the of the population without being productive. in a way, this is wonderful, this is the fruits of capitalism and of economic development. but it may well have these
retarding social, emotional consequences. no human society had experienced this before. also, youths are able to physically separate themselves from adult supervision by the automobile, right? they're able to the geographical mobility of the american people, automobile ans provide a place for young people who are sexual lima tour to you know, be sexually active without adult supervision. things like the transistor radio allowed people to have their separate different musical tastes indulged from adults. young people were able to produce their own cultural setting. this had never been seen before the 1950s. also, concerns about this is that as people, more and more people go to school, more and more children going to high school and college, there was a steady decline in s.a.t. score
as this baby boom cohort increased. and this was a matter of some concern. it appeared like the intellectual consequences of this new youth culture were not good. there's no explanation for this. one possibility there does seem to be a clear correlation between a decline in standardized test scores and birth order. you're having more and more second and third and fourth children. they're less apt to do well on the s.a.t. birth order may be a consequence. i'm the youngest of three myself but there is this statistical correlation. educational decline in the 1950s. you could see there's sort of a panic. americans periodically have these sense their educational system is in a crisis and especially in the 1950s as a result of we mentioned the development of sputnik by the soviets that they appeared to be ahead of america in terms of technological and military development and that we needed to do something to reform our
educational system and this sort of decline in educational standards in the 1950s was another sense there's something wrong with american youth and it's displaying it ef in standardized test scores. the music of the 1950s is perhaps the most important development. the most important sign of there being a separate youth culture. the development of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. this was one that came together brought together earlier sort of zing and local musical cultures that came together into the mass form known as rock 'n' roll. it arose out of country and western music on the one happened and rhythm and blues on the other. and they were brought together into rock 'n' roll. in the 1950s, people made the argument there was earlier examples of this in the 1940s. the country and western music was considered sort of an zing sort of nich musical market. this is the way bill board magazine classified these various genres of music.
country and western was considered vulgar hillbilly music. rhythm and blues, that was black music referred to as race music before they renamed rhythm and blues and rock nnsa and roll was taking these sort of two sub cultures and bring them to the white middle class, vast baby boop culture. and the person most important for this is elvis presley. he's the one sort of the largest rock 'n' roll phenomenon of the 1950s. patterson tells phillips, if i could find a white man with a negro sourngsd i would be a billionaire. this is what concerned a lot of americans in the 1950s about rock 'n' roll. it was taking music of the hill billies and negros and our children will be affected by it. many people believed that rock 'n' roll was responsible for the increase in drug use, all these social pathologies that were associated with white people from the wrong side of the tracks and blacks. and you can go and listen to
elvis presley and watch them a video of him. it's very hard for you today to imagine that people ever were concerned about him being a threat. he would seem sort of rather innocent and quantity to you. but at the time, that idea sort of crossover of these cultures into mainstream middle class white culture alarmed a great. people. it's interesting over the course of the 1950s, rock 'n' roll eventually became more whitened, right? lost some of the edges of its original rhythm and blues background. if you look at pat boone as an illustration, you can see the way in which rock 'n' roll appeared to be tamed by the end fitz. it was going to change in the 60s which changed by the british invasion which took on the baeltales and the roll stones and the who. the idea rock 'n' roll might have been a temporary
phenomenon, by 1960, rock nnsa and roll in its initial face, usually preferred to as rock 'n' roll opposed to rockings -- that was the audio manifestation of this youth culture. let me stop there and we'll continue with the culture of the 1950s in our next class on thursday. thanks for your attention. "american history tv" is in primetime all week with our original series, lectures in history. focusing on college and university classrooms around the country. on friday, we'll take a look at the civil war including a lecture on cultural heritage and confederate monuments. "american history tv" primetime begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. also on friday, book tv in primetime looks at authors who are on the summer reading lists for members of congress.
that includes author ron chernow who recounts the life of george washington in his book "washington." then james mcpherson on the civil war era. after that, physician and journalist elizabeth rosenthal examines the business side of health care in her book "an american sickness." and later, supreme court justice sonia so the mifr talks about her memoir "my beloved world," book tv all this week primetime on c-span2. >> sunday night on q and a, we look at anthony clark's book "the last campaign," how presidents rewrite history, run for posterity and enshrine their legacies. >> every single comment i've received has been one of either two topics how angry people are to learn what's happening or how flabbergasted they are to learn what's happening. it's not i haven't received any kind of my, i read it and it was okay. >> why are they angry. >> about the fact that we have
these presidential libraries created to house records and especially for the most recent ones, the records won't be open for 100 years. instead we're paying for celebration and legacy building. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q & a. >> live sunday at noon eastern, author, speaker and radio host eric metasxas is our guest on in-depth. >> every ethnicity exists in america. it's not defined by religion. every religion exists in america. we're defined by an idea. we're the only country in the history of the world create and defined by an idea. and therefore, in order to keep the republic as franklin enjoined us to do, we must know those ideas, we must understand those ideas. we must buy into those ideas and live them out. >> his books include biographies
on dietrich bon whoever and his latest "if you can keep it, the forgotten promise of american liberty." join our conversation with your calls, e-mails and facebook questions can live sunday at noon eastern on book tv's in-depth on c-span2. >> now, on lectures in history, it's james madison university professor evan friss. he teaches a class about the evolution of suburbs, the early 1900s to the present and talks about how changes to home loan policies, the mass production of houses, and rice of automobiles helped create an alternative to urban living. his class is about an hour. >> so today, we're talking about the suburbs. how many of you grew up in the suburbs? okay. almost all of you. and what kind of adjectives ul