The political situation
Life in the 1920s
Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918. With the end of the First
World War, a new era of peace and prosperity was envisaged.
Most people had high expectations of the 1920 and although
the decade did not turn out to be as idyllic as they hoped, definite improvements were
made in areas such as health, fashion, education and the standard of 1920s life living.
The political situation during the 1920s was extremely complex. In foreign affairs,
it was soon discovered that all had not been solved by the First World War and
that international differences were still numerous.
Russia, with her threat
of Bolshevism, was regarded with mistrust, and nearer home,
Adolph Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy were growing in power.
Attempts were made to prevent further disagreements by the Locarno Pact (1925) and
the Kellogg Pact (1928).
The former guaranteed the French frontiers and the
latter invited all nations to renounce aggressive warfare. It had been signed by all major
countries including the USA and the USSR by 1930.
At home, Ireland was a continual source of concern as more and more violent means
were used by extremists to persuade the British Government to grant Ireland her independence.
On the British mainland, unemployment and the worsening economic climate were the major issues to be dealt with, culminating in the crisis of the General Strike in 1926.
Music 1920s 1930s that were played over and over in radio
1920s Popular Music CD Album like 1920s Jazz Music, Piano Music, charleston music, 1920s Blues and 1920s Country
- The Big Broadcast, Volume 1: Jazz and Popular Music of the 1920s and 1930s
- Hot Dance Music Of The Roaring 1920s
- The Roaring Twenties
- Charleston: Great Stars of the 1920s
- Piano Concertos of the 1920s
- Piano Trios of the 1920s
- Shaking the Blues Away: Good Tunes for Hard Times
These problems would have been difficult for a stable government to cope with. However,
during the decade there were six changes of government, and the emergence to power of a
new political party. For the last fifty years the Conservative and Liberal Parties had
dominated the political life scene, but by 1918 the Labour Party had emerged and was
steadily growing in support and confidence. The first Labour Government was in power in 1924.
Many more people were entitled to vote in the 1920s than ever before. After the war
there was universal male suffrage, and votes for women over the age of 30. An Act of
1928 allowed women over the age of 21 to vote also, a move which caused considerable concern at the time.
Bright Young Things
With a life style very different from "normal" during the 1920s, the "Bright Young Things"
scandalized many people by their madcap activities. They were a small group of upper class young people
who specialized in doing shocking things drinking a lot, driving fast cars in a dangerous manner
and indulging in outrageous behaviour in the cars. They loved playing pranks, especially at the expense of others.
One young lady, at an important buffet party attended by many famous people, replaced all the ham in
the sandwiches with pink flannel and then watched gleefully as the guests dealt with their
surprise! Midnight bathing, treasure hunts and parties were also loved. At one party in 1928, all
the guests arrived dressed up as babies. As the "Bright Young Things" were mostly titled people,
all their antics were eagerly reported by the press, to the disgust of the more conservative members
During the war many women, by force of circumstances, had become more independent. Many had
done "men's jobs" and when the war ended were not prepared to go back to their former, restricted
way of life.
In the 1920s life more women than ever before had a job and some achieved high positions, the most
notable being Margaret Bondfield who in 1929 became the first woman Cabinet Minister. In 1928
women over the age of 21 were given the vote and this further enhanced their status.
(The previous age limit had been 30.) For those who remained at home (and the vast majority did,
once they were married), the life situation was also improving. Families tended to be much smaller
and homes were becoming much easier to run. Their new found freedom was reflected in fashion as women gaily abandoned their old corsets
and long, heavy dresses in favour of short, loose frocks. Very "modern" girls also
wore make up, smoked in public and used slang.
Entertainment Radio 1920s Music and Jazz Music Sports in the 1920s
During the twenties everyone was eager to enjoy themselves and there was a boom in popular entertainment.
The radio, and the BBC radio, had the greatest influence with 1920s jazz, 1920s piano, blues music and
country and charleston music. In 1922 sports were also considered
important and the most popular included football, tennis, swimming, skating and greyhound racing.
1920s Transport & 1920s Cars
Huge improvements were made in transport. Cars became available to anyone who could pay and by
1930 there were over one
million private cars on the roads. In towns, trams and omnibuses provided a cheap and efficient
service, while charabancs and motor buses opened up new possibilities for country people. No new railways
were built, but the London Underground was extended to include the developing suburbs.
Aeroplanes were much loved. Flying exhibitions attracted large crowds and anyone who could afford it
could buy his or her own aeroplane. A Gypsy Moth, for example, cost £595 in 1926. Passenger
airlines became yearly more sophisticated and by the end of the decade were taking travellers to
destinations all over the world.
Extract from “Growing up in The 1920s”, written by Amanda Clark. London: B.T.Batsford Ltd, 1986.
Rock ’n’ roll. Hip-hop. Rap. Heavy metal. These contemporary types of music may cause
the older generation to be concerned about the popular music that youth listen to today.
Did you know that the young people of the 1920s faced similar issues with their older
generation? When the adults of the 1920s heard the blues and jazz being played, they
expressed concern about the popular music that their youth were listening to, as well.
Many of the cultural conservatives viewed the music as having a bad moral influence on
We can define music as “vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm,
melody, or harmony.” Ultimately, music reflects personal tastes and situations. We listen
to music when we are happy or sad. We play music for amusement and pleasure and
when we want to forget the cares of the day. We can hear music in our places of worship,
riding in the car, or in the shower.
Historically, the United States has been one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse
nations in the world. Nearly every cultural and ethnic group has brought its own music to
America. History and geography have also played their parts in the music of America.
Think about work songs, cowboy songs, Depression songs, war songs, union songs, train
songs, and protest songs.
The first Europeans to arrive in the New World brought with them the memories and
songs of their native lands. These songs were, in turn, mixed and blended with the sounds
of the American Indians whom the colonists encountered. Each group of settlers brought
its own unique ethnic form of music. Puritans and Pilgrims sang hymns and psalms
without instruments at meetings and church. English and Scots-Irish gentry remembered
ballads of the British Isles, and enslaved people brought here in slave ships carried with
them the chants and rhythms of Africa.
The interweaving of European and African musical styles is perhaps the most significant
factor in the history of American music. In the South, particularly, the music of black and
white working people mixed, remixed, and blended. Enslaved peoples and their
descendants added a fluid and expressive vocal style and a highly developed sense of
rhythm to European songs and instruments. As a result, a new African American music
American music is a mixture of these many factors. Foreign songs were planted like
seeds in the fertile soil of the New World and grew into varied styles of American music.
Each year there are thousands of folks festivals and gatherings throughout North Carolina
and the nation. America’s folk music may have its roots in faraway places, but as the
nation’s people live, work, and struggle, their music is reborn every day.
Only one original folk music exists in America—the music of the American Indian. It is
as varied as the hundreds of different tribes and languages. This music was old long
before the first explorers crossed the ocean.
The earliest documentation of European music in the New World says, “The Pinta leads
the procession, and her crew is singing the Te Deum [a religious chant]. The crews of the
Santa Maria and the Nina join in the solemn chant, and many of the rough sailors brush
tears from their eyes.” Christopher Columbus wrote these words in his journal on October
12, 1492, as his three ships landed in America.
Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown in 1781 was accompanied by music. Colonial fifeand-
drummers tootled “Yankee Doodle,” and the British played an appropriate folk tune,
“The World Turned Upside Down.”
In the South, the fiddle tradition flourished. It was influenced by the rhythmic music of
enslaved people. It laid the basis for later styles such as bluegrass and country-andwestern
From Scotland and Ireland, successive waves of migrations have kept alive traditions in
many communities throughout North Carolina and the United States, where protest songs
and ballads can still be heard.
Music for dancing was an essential ingredient in communal activities such as corn
husking, quilting bees, tobacco curing, apple stringing, log rolling, and wood chopping.
Music served other important functions. The traditional ballads were the storybooks,
radios, and news flashes of isolated rural life. New songs told stories of local events,
famous happenings, and legendary heroes and outlaws. Songs detailed the ups and downs
of farming and rural life. There were sentimental songs, love songs, and many songs
about the railroad. The railroad in the nineteenth century helped break down the isolation
of rural communities and to many people held out hope of adventure and freedom.
In the early 1900s, some southern rural communities grew to be less isolated as they
became industrialized, and major social and technological developments changed the way
of life for many people. The radio came to many isolated rural areas in the 1920s. It
brought popular commercial music from northern cities. It also made possible a venue for
country musicians to broadcast throughout the South, on programs such as the National
Another important innovation was the phonograph. When the phonograph became
popular in the South, country people could buy records only of northern entertainers.
However, in 1923 Fiddlin’ John Carson, an old-time fiddler, political campaigner, and
moonshine maker, became one of the first of the southern musicians recorded when he
played the song “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane.”
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1920s 1930s, A cartoon from 1927 of a "typical" Twenties family out for a walk.
Note the large perambulator, and the dummies firmly stuck in the mouths of the babies.
The semis in the background are a good illustration of contemporary ribbon fashion development.