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The 1920s

The 1920s

Reading Quizzes

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Sample of Reading Quizzes

Big Picture


1. Why were the 1920s known as the "Roaring Twenties"?
2. What was the reality of the "Roaring Twenties" for many Americans?
3. What problems did farmers have in the 1920s?
4. What contributed to a resurgence of Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s?
5. Who were some of the figures that embodied the "Roaring Twenties"?


1. The 1920s were characterized by an unprecedented period of affluence, best remembered through the cultural artifacts generated by its new mass-consumption economy. As a soaring stock market minted millionaires by the thousands, young Americans in the nation's teeming cities rejected traditional social mores by embracing a modern urban culture of freedom—drinking illegally in speakeasies, dancing provocatively to the Charleston, listening to the sexy rhythms of jazz music.
2. The 1920s revealed that a majority of Americans lived in cities, yet well over 40% of the country's population resided on farms and in tiny rural communities. Farms did not enjoy the affluence of the cities; rather, agricultural prices collapsed in the 1920s, making it a time of poverty and crushing indebtedness for many farmers.
3. For farmers, the Great Depression began with the collapse of agricultural prices in the 1920s. More than 90% of American farms lacked electricity, and the proportion of farms with access to a telephone actually decreased over the course of the decade. In addition, many rural Americans found the modern, sexualized, multi-ethnic culture of the cities deeply offensive to their traditional beliefs.
4. The antagonism of native-born, white Protestants toward the perceived cultural excesses of the "Roaring Twenties" fueled a political backlash that allowed a resurgent Ku Klux Klan—anti-black as always, but now also anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-evolution, anti-drinking, and anti-sex—to take over several state governments.
5. On the side of affluence, figures like Henry Ford, who developed the model T, and Louis Armstrong, whose music became popular in the 1920s, represented the cultural transformation of the period. On the other hand, Ed Jackson, Ku Klux Klansmen, and the Governor of Indiana all embodied the antagonistic sentiment that also grew in the 1920s.