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Roaring 20s Web Sites

Clash of Cultures in the 1910s and 1920s ★★★★☆
Produced by the Ohio State University History Department, this is an informative introduction to cultural tensions in the 1910s and 1920s, exploring topics such as prohibition, immigration, the KKK, the “New Woman,” and the Scopes Trial. There a also a varied array of primary sources, including cartoons, flyers, posters, photographs and other documents. The cultural clash of the 1920s in many ways offers a historical backdrop to issues resonating in American society today.

Jazz ★★★★☆
An online companion to Ken Burns’ Jazz video documentary, this PBS site includes a series of articles and biographies that put the development of Jazz in American historical perspective, and has several special features. There is an interactive map to learn more about the roots of Jazz and many audio excerpts — such of music by Louis Armstrong. The Roaring Twenties section in ‘Jazz in Time’ includes audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins who discusses Prohibition, speakeasies, and Jazz. There are also K-12 lesson plans designed around the Jazz video series and companion Web site.

Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy 1921-1929 ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress site features a treasure trove of materials from the 1920’s that illustrate the prosperity of the Coolidge era, the nation’s transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition. There are six major categories: The Prosperity of the Coolidge Era; The Coolidge Presidency; The Coolidge Administration; Merchandising and Advertising; Consumer Activism; African Americans and Consumerism ; Poverty in the 1920s. Each section includes an introduction to the topic at hand with links to related individuals, organizations, publications, documents, and more.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – 1920 Silent Film (YouTube video) ★★★★☆

The 1920’s Experience ★★★★☆
Another broad introduction to the 1920’s, this commercial site has a vast amount of information and images on people, art, events, literature, music, and technology.

The Twenties 1913 – 1929 ★★★★☆
Did the 20s “Roar” or was it just a “yawn?” This Annenberg Biography of America video companion attempts to answer that question. This program centers on changes brought about by Henry Ford’s Model T, the assembly line, and the rise of American consumerism. Among the features are an interactive map of the growth of Los Angeles, circa 1925.

The Lawless Decade ★★★★☆
The Lawless Decade is a pictorial history of the “convulsive shocks” from WWI armistice and prohibition to the repeal of the 18th Amendment and the New Deal. The site is based on the book by the same name and is organized by year.

Scopes Trial Home Page – UMKC School of Law ★★★★☆
Featured “famous trial” in American history. In a Dayton, Tennessee courtroom in the summer of 1925, a jury was to decide the fate of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution. The meaning of the trial emerged through its interpretation as a conflict of social and intellectual values between “traditionalists” and “modernists.” The site features an introduction to the case, biographies of Scopes, Darrow, Bryan and other key participants, a chronology, trial satire, and more on the evolution controversy.

Leopold and Loeb Trial Home Page – UMKC School of Law ★★★★☆
Featured “famous trial” in American history. Two wealthy youths commit a heinous murder in the heart of Chicago. Their motive? To commit the perfect crime. Yet these young prodigies, who some had even called geniuses, made countless mistakes–and were swiftly captured and convicted. Facing a certain death sentence, they are defended by Clarence Darrow in a trial now infamous in the annals of courtroom history. The site features an introduction to the case, biographies of Leopold, Loeb, Darrow, and other key participants, a chronology, trial transcripts, Nietzsche’s philosophy (and its relevance to the case), and a copy of Darrow’s famous closing argument.

Black History: The Harlem Renaissance ★★★★☆
Harlem, “the capital of black America,” gave birth to a cultural revolution marked by artistic and intellectual contributions. Biography.com provides an introduction to the era though a series of essays and photographs, as well as many biographies of noted Harlem Renaissance contributors.

Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress site features photographs and related items from Down Beat magazine and its writer-editor William P. Gottlieb.

America on the Move: Americans Adopt the Auto ★★★★☆
America on the Move is a special presentation by the Smithsonian Institute that explores the role of transportation in American history. The link is to a section on the impact of the automobile and features an image collection that includes autos and automotive parts in the 1920s and 1930s, driver’s licenses, roads, oil company advertisements, and other related topics.

History Matters (Making Sense of Documents) ★★★★☆
The excellent History Matters U.S. history survey web sites offers an interesting array of primary source articles, essays, and memoirs related to the 1920s. Here is a selection:

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 ★★★★☆
A Harvard University web-based collection, this site contains a huge collection of primary sources on immigration to the United States, including 1,800 books and pamphlets, 13,000 pages from manuscripts and 9,000 photographs. The collection has very broad coverage and though the amount of information could be overwhelming, the web site is easy to navigate. Documents from the 1920s include Emergency Quota Act and the Oriental Exclusion Act.

Immigrants at Ellis Island ★★★★☆
This history.com collection contains 10 video clips related to Ellis Island. Among them are a Guided Tour of the Ferry Building, Passing the Medical Inspection, Detained at Ellis Island, Registering as an American Citizen.

Temperance and Prohibition ★★★★☆
This Ohio State University production explores prohibition. It analyzes the Anti-Saloon League and presents arguments for and against prohibition, among other features.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Home Page ★★★★☆
This is Great Gatbsy novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s centenary website. Among the highlights in this collection is three recitations recorded by Fitzgerald in California, c. 1940, a series of essays available in PDF format, several stories by Fitzgerald , a brief film clip of Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald quotes and facts.

Ellis Island ★★★★☆
An online, searchable database of the 22.5 million people who arrived in New York between 1892 – 1924.

Theatre Productions and Players, 1920s-1957 ★★★★☆
This digital collection from the New York Public Library incudes thousands of items, including portraits of performers in the 1920s and their productions.

Henry Ford: This Day in History ★★★☆☆
This page from the Library of Congress links to varied LOC sources related to Henry Ford, the automobile, and his times.

Fatal Flood ★★★☆☆
A companion to the American Experience video series, this PBS site explores the Mississippi River flooding in the spring of 1927 that inundating hundreds of towns and killed as many as a thousand people. Special features include excerpts from African Americans who suffered as a result of the flood, film footage before and during the flood, and an interactive maps with images of the flood. There is a timeline as well as several brief biographies. For educators, there are also classroom activities grouped into into 4 categories: history, economics, geography, and civics.

Lindbergh ★★★☆☆
At age 25 Charles A. Lindbergh became first man to fly across the Atlantic. Fame ensued, but so did tragedy years later with the kidnapping and murder of his first child. This companion to the American Experience video series offers insights into the Spirit of St. Louis, the kidnapping of Lindbergh’s son, Lindbergh’s hero status, and more. There is also a timeline, maps, and a teacher’s guide. A unique feature is an interactive map of Lindberg’s transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.

History of the Ku Klux Klan ★★★☆☆
A hyperlinked text essay of the history of the KK from the 1860s to the 1960s. Includes images and documents.

The Aaron Copeland Collection ★★★☆☆
This Library of Congress collection of the great American composer. Of the 1,000 items, including many photographs, most are from the 1920s through the 1950s and include music sketches, correspondence, writings, and photographs.

Nova timeline ★★★☆☆
An outline of movie studio, technological innovation in the 1920s.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities, and more

Pacifism vs. Patriotism in the 1920s
This activity asks students to consider the different political positions on war and disarmament of two women’s activist organizations from this period: the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Students read and discuss letters and complete a short writing assignment analyzing political cartoons reprinted in DAR Magazine. From the Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000 web site.

NAACP’s Anti-Lynching Campaigns: The Quest for Social Justice in the Interwar Years:
This NEH lesson and related simulation activity focuses on the constitutional arguments for and against the enactment of federal anti-lynching legislation in the early 1920s.

Activity: The Development of Jazz
Written by the Social Studies School Service, this activity plan emphasizes the importance of Jazz in our history. Students will learn about Harlem, Jazz, and what Jazz is today. Recommended for grade 11.

Jazz: Classroom Resources
These resources are from the PBS Jazz video series and companion Web site. Features a slideshow of historical photos. Don’t forget PBS’s Jazz home page for educational resources, like an interactive map showing the roots of jazz.

1920s Consumer Culture
This History Matters extended activity is designed to help students understand the importance of consumerism in the 1920s and recognize the connections between commodities and culture.

American Advertising: A Brief History
Since the 1920s American Advertising has grown enormously. This History Matters extended activity prompts students to analyze various ads from the 20th century. Included is an ad from the Saturday Evening Post in 1920.

Fatal Flood
The teacher’s guide to the PBS video Fatal flood touches upon topics such as race relations, the agricultural economy, and humanitarian aid. Their activities are divided into 4 categories: history, economics, geography, and civics.

Roaring 20s Quizzes
Scroll to bottom of the page for five high school AP multiple choice quizzes on the 1920s.

Postwar Disillusionment and the Quest for Peace, 1921-1929 
This National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment lesson examines the rise of antiwar sentiment in the United States and measures taken to prevent the outbreak of future wars.

The “Secret Society” and FitzGerald’s The Great Gatsby 
This National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment lesson attempts to answer: What tensions about wealth and status are revealed in The Great Gatsby? How are these tensions reflected in Nick Carraway’s struggle to belong? Students reflect on the class struggles of early twentieth century and write a “credo” for the “secret society” implied in The Great Gatsby.

Herbert Hoover Museum Lesson Plans
The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum has created a couple of lesson plans covering the Hoover presidency and the use of political cartoons in the Depression era.

The Roaring 20s: A Reunion 
In this WebQuest, students research a group chosen from a list and then contribute to a class podcast.

Blues Poems 
A part of a history unit on the 20s a teachers asks her students to compose a compose a blues-form poem about some problem of that time.

Interpreting Primary Sources
Digital History provides brief excerpts from primary sources and statistics and questions to think about the Controversies of the 1920s.

Digital History Resource Guides
The Digital Resource Guides provide links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. It is an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.

The Roaring Twenties, 1919-1929 Practice Test
High School level quiz on the Roaring Twenties from Prentice Hall.

At Home and Abroad: Prosperity and Depression, 1917-1940 Practice Test
High School level quiz on Jazz Age and Great Depression from Prentice Hall.

At Home and Abroad: Prosperity and Depression, 1917-1940 Document Based Essay
This Prentice Hall DBQ is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1-6).

Streamlines and Breadlines
High School students will learn about the growth and development of cities in America from 1920 through 1940. Immigration, the migration of African-Americans from the South to the urban centers of the North, industrialization, and the Great Depression all affected cities during this period. This lesson will culminate in a student essay that compares two contrasting images from this time period. Students will view two sets of images from Thirteen/WNET’s AMERICAN VISIONS Web site. Students will choose one image from each group and compare and contrast the images in an essay.

HistoryTeacher.net: AP United States History Quizzes
A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.

AP United States History DBQs: 1875-1925
These student-created DBQs are part of the excellent Historyteacher.net site.