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Photographic Gateways to History

America in the 1920s
Introduction | The Changing World of Work | Prohibition | Women Win the Vote
Advertising in the '20s | The Crash

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The Changing World of Work
Women Win the Vote Advertising in the '20s The Wall Street Crash

Air Mail Service mechanics, Omaha Nebraska, 1924.
One of hundreds of occupations that the new inventions (such as the airplane,
motion pictures, and the automobile) of the new century created.

The 1920s were a time of tremendous change in America. These airplane mechanics proudly posing for the camera exemplify a fundamental transition that took place during that decade - the acceleration of the steady move from an agrarian to an industrial economy. Prior to World War I, 42% of all Americans lived on a farm. By the end of the twenties this percentage had dropped to 25%. Prior to World War I only 7% of all Americans completed High School. By the end of the '20s this percentage had jumped almost six-fold to 41%.

The addition of two Amendments to the Constitution launched the decade and defined its character. The enactment of Prohibition marked the beginning of a "Noble Experiment" that strove to uplift America's moral character through the banishment of alcohol. The experiment failed and today references to the "Roaring Twenties" evoke images of lawlessness and moral decay. The 19th Amendment extended the right to vote to women and reflected a change in women's role in American society that continues today.

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The Wall St. Crash The Changing World of Work