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The ‘Roaring Twenties’ changed how Americans lived

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong – public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Shawn Downes, English Language Arts editor

The 1920s are known as the “Roaring Twenties.” The Roaring Twenties began 100 years ago. This decade was an exciting time in America. Many changes happened in the 1920s. People changed where they worked. People changed where they lived. People could buy new things. They could do new things. People had exciting new ways to have fun.

There were many new jobs in the 1920s. People worked in department stores. They worked in factories. They fixed cars. They made airplanes. People worked as telephone operators. They built roads and tall buildings.

Before the 1920s, most Americans lived in small towns. Many people lived on farms. Many people moved to cities in the 1920s. There were jobs in the city. Living in the city was exciting.

Other changes happened in the 1920s. Women earned the right to vote. More people went to school. People traveled more. They went on more vacations.

Many people bought cars in the 1920s. Henry Ford figured out a way to build cars quickly. Workers built cars on assembly lines. The cars were built in huge factories.

Ford cars from the 1920s

Ford cars being built as they moved along an assembly line – public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

People bought many things made in factories. People bought washing machines. They bought refrigerators. They bought radios. They made toast in their new toasters. They cleaned with their new vacuum cleaners.

Movies became very popular in the 1920s. People enjoyed going to movie theaters. Charlie Chaplin was a movie star in the 1920s. So was Greta Garbo. People also watched baseball games. Babe Ruth was a famous baseball player in the 1920s. Jazz music became popular. In fact, the 1920s are sometimes called the “Jazz Age.” Louis Armstrong played jazz music. Jelly Roll Morton was another popular jazz musician.

Some people liked to perform stunts in the 1920s. Wing-walking was a type of stunt. People walked on airplane wings while the planes were flying! Another stunt was flagpole sitting. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly was a popular flagpole sitter. Shipwreck Kelly once sat on top of a flagpole for over 22 days. John Reynolds was called “the human fly” for his ability to climb.

Charles Lindbergh was one of the most famous Americans in the 1920s. He was a pilot. He flew an airplane called the Spirit of St. Louis. He flew across the Atlantic Ocean. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly alone across this ocean. This was a big moment! The Roaring Twenties truly was an exciting time.

Test your understanding (Grade Band: K–2)

Babe Ruth was famous for __________.

  1. acting in movies
  2. playing baseball
  3. being a musician

The word stunt means the same thing as ________.

  1. game
  2. show
  3. trick

Where did many people move to in the 1920s?

  1. cities
  2. farms
  3. towns

Talk about it

Why do you think the 1920s were called “The Roaring Twenties”? (To print this out for your child, use this printable version.)

Get everyone involved

Look around your home. What do you have in your home that people may also have used in the 1920s.

Dig deeper

Learn more about a famous person from the 1920s.

Sources

America in the 1920s.” Eyewitness to History, n.d.

Remember the Flagpole Sitting Trend of the 1920?” Ripley’s Believe it or Not, 14 May 2018.

The Roaring 20s.American Experience, PBS, n.d.

Roos, Dave. “When WWI, Pandemic and Slump Ended, Americans Sprung into the Roaring Twenties.” History, 28 Apr. 2020.

Roos, Dave. “When WWI, Pandemic and Slump Ended, Americans Sprung into the Roaring Twenties.” History, 28 Apr. 2020.

Answer key

  1. playing baseball
  2. trick
  3. cities

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