Portal:1920s

The 1920s Portal


The 1920s (pronounced "nineteen-twenties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1920, and ended on December 31, 1929.

In North America, it is frequently referred to as the "Roaring Twenties" or the "Jazz Age", while in Europe the period is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age Twenties" because of the economic boom following World War I. French speakers refer to the period as the "Années folles" ("Crazy Years"), emphasizing the era's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism.

The economic prosperity experienced by many countries during the 1920s (especially the United States) was similar in nature to that experienced in the 1950s and 1990s. Each period of prosperity was the result of a paradigm shift in global affairs. These shifts in the 1920s, 1950s, and 1990s, occurred in part as the result of the conclusion of World War I and Spanish flu, World War II, and the Cold War, respectively.

The 1920s saw foreign oil companies begin operations throughout South America. Venezuela became the world's second largest oil producing nation.

In some countries the 1920s saw the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism spread as a consequence of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' victory in the Russian Civil War. Fear of the spread of Communism led to the emergence of far right political movements and fascism in Europe. In 1922, the fascist leader Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy after a coup d'état. Economic problems contributed to the emergence of dictators in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, to include Józef Piłsudski in the Second Polish Republic, and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 is generally viewed as a harbinger of the end of 1920s prosperity in North America and Europe. (Full article...)

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The Roaring Twenties (sometimes stylized as the Roarin' 20s) refers to the decade of the 1920s in Western society and Western culture. It was a period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Europe, particularly in major cities such as Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, and Sydney. In France, the decade was known as the "années folles" ('crazy years'), emphasizing the era's social, artistic and cultural dynamism. Jazz blossomed, the flapper redefined the modern look for British and American women, and Art Deco peaked. In the wake of the military mobilization of World War I, President Warren G. Harding "brought back normalcy" to the politics of the United States. This period saw the large-scale development and use of automobiles, telephones, films, radio, and electrical appliances in the lives of millions in the Western world. Aviation soon became a business. Nations saw rapid industrial and economic growth, accelerated consumer demand, and introduced significant new trends in lifestyle and culture. The media, funded by the new industry of mass-market advertising driving consumer demand, focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home teams and filled the new palatial cinemas and gigantic sports stadiums. In many major democratic states, women won the right to vote.

The social and cultural features known as the Roaring Twenties began in leading metropolitan centers and spread widely in the aftermath of World War I. The United States gained dominance in world finance. Thus, when Germany could no longer afford to pay World War I reparations to the United Kingdom, France, and the other Allied powers, the United States came up with the Dawes Plan, named after banker and later 30th Vice President Charles G. Dawes. Wall Street invested heavily in Germany, which paid its reparations to countries that, in turn, used the dollars to pay off their war debts to Washington. By the middle of the decade, prosperity was widespread, with the second half of the decade known, especially in Germany, as the "Golden Twenties". (Full article...)
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Lillian Gish
Credit: Bain News Service

A portrait of Lillian Gish from 1921. Gish was one of the first female movie stars, called "The First Lady of American Cinema", starting in 1912 and continuing to appear in films until 1987. The American Film Institute named Gish 17th among the greatest female stars of all time and awarded her a Life Achievement Award, making her the only recipient who was a major figure in the silent era. Remarkably, she never won an Academy Award for her work, although she did receive a Special Academy Award in 1971.

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Józef Piłsudski (-1930).jpg

Józef Klemens Piłsudski[a] (Polish: [ˈjuzɛf ˈklɛmɛns piwˈsutskʲi] (About this soundlisten); 5 December 1867 – 12 May 1935) was a Polish statesman who served as the Chief of State (1918–1922) and First Marshal of Poland (from 1920). He was considered the de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic as the Minister of Military Affairs. After World War I, he held great power in Polish politics and was a distinguished figure on the international scene. He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic re-established in 1918, 123 years after the final Partition of Poland by Austria, Prussia and Russia in 1795.

Seeing himself as a descendant of the culture and traditions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Piłsudski believed in a multi-ethnic Poland—"a home of nations" including indigenous ethnic and religious minorities he hoped would establish a robust union with the independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine. His principal political opponent, Roman Dmowski, leader of the National Democrat party, by contrast, called for a Poland limited to the pre-Partitions Polish Crown and based mainly on a homogeneous ethnically Polish population and Roman Catholic identity. (Full article...)

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