Middle Class

Neiko Mullens

Megan McNulty

Cameron Patt

Amara Velador

    Middle Class during the gilded age allowed for industrialization of rural areas and extra money to be spent frivolously. This time period was filled with rapid growth after the civil war and reconstruction. Industrialization boomed at this time due to the Civil war.  During this era they constructed railroads, small factories, banks, stores, mines, and other family owned businesses. The Gilded Age was a time of tremendous change in which old ideas of society and culture no longer seem to apply. Jane Addams established settlement houses ( the Hull House) for poor in which immigrants used as a shelter and the middle class helped to maintain these shelters so that the lower class would not up rise.

    The 1920's were prosperous years in America with an increase in wealth, jobs, technology, and education. Americans made more money from their annual income and had no problem spending it on the new technology such as: refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, vacuums, sewing machines, and radios that made household tasks faster and life a more carefree environment. Chain stores emerged selling groceries, drugs, shoes, and clothing which made brand names popular. Due to this, luxury items seemed like a "necessity", paying for these items the installment plan was introduced. The installment plan was a way to get money based on ones credit and the money would be paid back with interest. Also in the 1920's the manufacture, sales, and transportation was outlawed due to the Eighteenth Amendment. However, Americans did not like this new law therefore organized crime came about along with hidden saloons called speakeasies where many upper class and middle class people went to relax and socialize. Americans also looked for good forms of entertainment and changing fads such as baseball, magazines, dance marathons, movies, flag pole sittings, and books. The role of women also changed by becoming more assertive and wanting equal status of men. Women that embraced the new fashions and urban attitudes were known as flappers. More industrial jobs for women came about in offices, factories, and stores although women's pay was less than the men's. However, "women's professions" were more likely to be teachers, nurses, librarians, or for the middle class housewives which were the shoppers and money managers of the family. The views on marriage that middle class Americans changed into an equal partnership based on romantic love, equality, and companionship. Middle class children now went to public schools instead of factories, farms or apprenticeships. In 1926 the average students that attended high school had risen from one-million to nearly four-million. These high school teens became more social with friends and spent less time with family, resisting parental control, peer pressure intensified.

    In the 1950's marriage and family life gained a new level of respect. People married at a younger age and family togetherness was emphasized. The household changed from extended family to nuclear family. All the houses became cookie cutters and spread to the edge of cities with bigger back yards and more property. Black and white television sales grew exponentially, corporations influenced many and dominated the television industry. People began to watch identical television programs and suddenly the interest in politics, culture, and society disappeared. Schools gained better funding, and organized beautification programs such as construction of libraries, parks, and swimming pools suddenly grew. Teens began to purchase African American rhyme and blues records. Rock and roll was very popular but was banned from many radio stations. Laws prohibited rock concerts and teens were urged to break the records. The 50s were a time of baby boom and bomb shelters.

    The 1980's became about the big hair, glamour, glitz, shoulder pads, dock martins, trainers, low heel pumps, innovative hosiery, color coordination, swash buckling, and the pirate look. Fashion played a huge role in everyday life. The new wave of music became Michael Jackson, Madonna, and U2. Break dancing became popular they were often the best fighter or gangster on the street. Break dancers wore pants, t-shirt, and a hat tipped sideways. Movies like beat street, spinnin' and breakin were made famous. Michael Jackson's famous moon walk and MC Hammers dance style improved forms of break dancing. With all of this the importance of family dissolved and teens wanted to be separated from their parents. College tuition increased and support declined so requirements raised meaning, hard work for the unemployed and motivated class. The industrialization of cities meant more money to be spent on entertainment. Amusement Park popularity rose, baseball, football, and basketball, lawn tennis, golf, and croquet became more popular due to work being less physically strenuous.


Other Helpful Sites

http://www.gildedage.net/gilded_age.html - includes information about craftsmanship, industrialization, and the role men and women played in the Gilded Age.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/gildedage.html - shows the role of Andrew Carnegie, and the importance of political machines during the Gilded Age.

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/jb/gilded - the importance of immigration for economic prosperity during the Gilded Age.

http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade20.html - American culture of the 1920s.

http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infoCentral/frameset/decade/1920.htm - 1920s fads, entertainment, and inventions.

http://library.thinkquest.org/C005846/The_1920/the1920.htm - world news, finance, sports, and life in the 1920s.

http://intranet.dalton.org/ms/8th/students/decades99/Muffins1950/Pages/index.html - America in the 1950s including gender and racial issues, foreign affairs, and economics.

http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infoCentral/frameset/decade/1950.htm - included information on popular music, entertainment, technology, and civil rights in the 1950s.

http://www.babyboomermemories.com/fifties/index.php - interesting facts about the 1950s such as most popular names, and top sports teams.

http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infoCentral/frameset/decade/1980.htm - 1980s sports, disasters, and economy.


http://www.crazyfads.com/80s.htm - fads of the 1980s.


http://home.aol.com/mg4273/musvideo.htm - popular 1980s music.


http://www.hallelnet.com/von/alllinks/80's_in_review.htm - 1980s popular toys, movies, and television.