Family During Prohibition Era

Genealogy can be a good way to connect to ancestors and find family you never knew you had. The 1920s is a particularly interesting time to look at because of how dramatically life was shifting.

I always thought genealogy was for older people who knew more stories and ancestors than I did, but through my experience I’ve found it’s a way to get to know your ancestors without meeting them. You can get a little peek into their lives through the thousands of records floating around.

Prior to the 1920s, most records would probably note the career of a farmer or laborer with a larger family. Even just looking through a United States census my ancestor is in, people were salesmen, barbers, and laborers.

Change was rapid throughout the 1920s, in fact, women attained the right to vote in 1920, and many women were in the workforce prior to the 1920s because of World War I.

1923_Office_with_Five_People

Four working women and a man. Source: http://www.officemuseum.com/photo_gallery_1920s_1930s.htm

Along with working and voting women, education underwent a change in the 1920s. As there were less farmers, there was less of a need for children to labor in the fields, and there was a push for more education. According to HSLDA, “By 1918, every state had a compulsory attendance law on the books.” The HSLDA website also states that laws became stricter during the 1920s.

Radio also became a part of the culture in the late 1920s. Families would often listen to radio together as a way to spend quality time together. Technology was improving, people could enjoy cars, radios, silent movies, and refrigerators.

1922-Aug-Radio-Broadcast-mag-sm

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-mobile-phone-from-1922-not-quite-21291812/ (From August 1922, Radio Broadcast magazine, according to the Smithsonian Mag)

The 1920s were a time of mass  culture, where everyone was buying the same products and listening to the same shows (The Roaring Twenties).

Family life is very different now. There is still a mass culture but it seems the family is still constantly changing.

Find your family today, find those people that were lost to time and remember them, because they made you who you are today.

Advertisements

Cash or Check?

Kiss now or later?

That is the question posed by the title according to a 1920s slang guide.

Just yesterday, my friends were talking about a party we were going to throw for our roommate since it was her birthday. As we talked a word slipped out almost on habit.

I said, “Dang, that would be chill!”

I say dang a lot, either in disappointment to surprise. Chill is a word I use to mean cool.

Slang is natural in language, with technology it has evolved greatly. But all slang comes from somewhere. Some of the words used today are based in the 1920s. Other slang words have died out and been replaced.

“Flapper” is one term that has evolved since the 1920s. It was used to mean an unruly, daring woman, with short skirts and even shorter hair. Now it is just the name of a costume, a caricature of the flapper. She stands in high heels, swishing skirts, pearls, sparkly headband, and a cigarette holder perched between two fingers.

“Handcuff” was a term used to mean an engagement ring. Today that has evolved into a “ball and chain” which means marriage.

“On the lam” is a term that still means running away from the police.

“Ab-so-lute-ly” is a term listed as meaning agreeing or “affirmative.” Now people say definitely or for sure, rather than dragging out absolutely.

The “bee’s knees” and the “cat’s pajamas” are still terms used to mean something is awesome.

There are many other terms that are no longer used in the way they are defined such as: bank’s closed, bluenose, smooth, cheaters, etc.

Slang will continue to evolve as time goes on, but remember many of the slang words that appear have basis in the past.

(Here are some websites if you want to see more slang: Slang of the 1920s, Flapper Slang, History of American Slang)

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

Happy Belated Valentine’s, Everyone!

I figured this week’s post could take a different tone in honor of Valentine’s Day and one of the most memorable events in the 1920s: The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Gangs ruled the land in the 1920s, at least in popular places with demand for alcohol. Chicago was one such city where the most famous gangsters resided. In current times, Chicago is still extremely corrupt and crime-riddled. According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2016 Chicago had 4,367 shooting victims.

In the 1920s crime was also rampant. Al Capone is one of the most famous names in that time, and even in the 21st century. George “Bugs” Moran is another famous gangster in Chicago.

In fact, Moran was one of the first gangsters to institute drive-by shootings (TimeOut). Capone, on the other hand, was loved by the people because he put on the character of doing everything for the people. In the 1930s, he created a soup kitchen to make people view him as a “Robin Hood” character, giving the people the alcohol the government is taking away, and the food they need (Rare Historical Photos).

Moran ran the North Side Gang while Capone ran the Chicago Outfit. They were big rivals. Their rivalry came to a head on February 14, 1929.

Seven North Side Gang members were in the gang’s garage that their bootlegging operations stemmed from, when men dressed as police officers entered. They demanded that the gang members line up against the wall. As they did so, the men dressed as police officers opened fire. One man was barely alive when the police officers came but died before he could get medical aid (Chicago Tribune).

Capone was questioned about the massacre, but he denied knowing about it, and was at his home in Florida when it happened (Chicago Tribune).

Radio

Do you enjoy listening to the radio in the car? Or maybe to podcasts online?

Those exist because of the radio revolution in the 1920s. It is rather fascinating to see the rise of radio throughout the entire United States.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Crystal sets were very popular radio sets in the early 1920s. Source:http://www.radioblvd.com/20sRadio.html

Telegraphs were already around for a while before radio began. People used telegraphs to send messages across far distances, courtesy of Morse code. This, of course, was a step up from sending letters with horsemen.

Another grand step up though, was through the work of Guglielmo Marconi. In 1895 he created and worked on a radio system that actually worked! It was a huge step forward in wireless communication (1920’s Radio).

You know AM and FM on modern day radio? Well Edwin Armstrong invented FM! Armstrong actually developed many different features of the radio, he also helped stabilize and amplify radio signals (History of American Radio).

On Nov.2nd, 1920, the first nationwide broadcast was made by KDKA station (1920’s Radio). Unfortunately, not many people had radios at the time so few people heard it. But after that broadcast became huge!

Sales skyrocketed and there were many different radio shows throughout the 1920s. Majority of American families had a radio by 1930 (Mortal Journey). But radio was a mess until the government stepped in and made the Radio Act of 1927 and the Federal Radio Commission to clean up the airwaves and regulate radio use (Radio Act of 1927).

Radio continues to influence people even in modern day.

All Dolled Up

Have you ever walked around, seen someone’s outfit, and wondered why they decided that looked good?

That’s me with guys sagging their pants in the 21st century. Can someone explain to me why so many guys do that?

Luckily, in the 1920s, that fashion trend doesn’t exist.Rather when I walk around it seems that men and women are always looking well-done.

In fact, I’m not quite sure how I ended up here, but it’s been fascinating to see the differences between then and now. To see how even the smaller things of 1920 have shaped the future 2017.

While I have been here, in the 1920s, it seems women’s hemlines shot up, the cloche hat (it was close-fitting and small) is extremely popular, and cropped short hair is in style (Source: Glamour Daze). Although I don’t think I could ever cut my hair so short, many women pull it off well.

1920s-fashion

This is the evolution of women’s wear through the years. Source: Glamour Daze

 

The progression of style is very chic. Don’t ask me how I’ll find nice clothes now, my jeans and t-shirt definitely won’t cut it for this era. Maybe I can get donations from a nice old lady. Or maybe flappers would think my outfit is daring.

Speaking of daring, Louise Brooks was a famous actress that revolutionized style in the 192s, for instance, she actually tried out pants! The audacity!

Louise Brooks - 1920s

Louise Brooks. Source: Marie Claire

Let me explain the term flapper, considering I stated it earlier.

Louise Brook’s audacity basically made her the perfect flapper.

Flappers were women who were known to be wild, and they revolutionized fashion for women in America forever! They cut their hair into bobs, shortened their hemlines, and did whatever they wanted. (Source: Smithsonian.com) These were the women that were way ahead of their time, so with me being from the future, I would probably fit right in.

Men’s fashion, on the other hand, isn’t quite as revolutionary in the 20s. Their fashion mainly consists of suits, uniforms, and sports clothes. Although they do have many different types of pants. Knickerbockers are in fashion for those rich men who wear them. (Source: Vintage Dancer) There are mostly men in suits walking down every street, some gangsters, some businessmen, others probably both.

color-knickers-mens

Knickerbockers. Source: (Vintage Dancer)

It seems that fashion has evolved a lot since the 1920s, but the styles present are a strong basis for the ones in the 21st century. Women’s and men’s fashions will continue to rapidly evolve from here on out.

Stay tuned for more posts about the 1920s!

((Check out these awesome sites for more resources on fashion in the 1900s! Glamour Daze, Vintage Dancer, Marie Claire. And check out The Smithsonian Magazine!))

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Digital Age to The Roaring Twenties

How much do you know about the Prohibition era?

From 1920 to 1933, it was one of the most glitzy and blatantly disobedient times in United States history. The 18th Amendment banned sale and transport of most alcohol, and with that began a skyrocketing crime rate, with gangs and smuggling. (HISTORY-Prohibition)

The prohibition on alcohol enabled gangs to rise to power and gain wealth. With that they began overtaking towns and even in the 2000s gangs are still a huge problem. Some gangs that began their rise to power in the 1920s.

Fashion and icons were completely different back in the 1920s. Flappers, a fashion that is still around for Halloween, were all the rage. Charlie Chaplin was a major star in his silent films.

Some establishments that are still around in modern era were speakeasies back in the 1920s. That means that they were basically “secret bars” where you had to know the right people or the right pass code to get inside so you could buy alcohol. People went to extreme lengths to have alcohol, and it was an extremely profitable business. As long as you supplied the right people without stepping on any toes.

Policemen often did raids to try and find illegal stashes of alcohol.

The Twenties were a tumultuous but also somehow glamorous time. I look forward to delving into it with you. I will cover fashion, slang, famous gangsters, and if you have a request feel free to email it to me. There will be a lot of research on this blog, with some narrative parts from me “exploring” the 1920s. Hope you enjoy!