The Fifties: A Society in Transition: Cultural Change Battles Conformity History is studied topically, but topics do not cleanly divide themselves into neat and tidy, bright line time frames based on decades. So, although historians generally refer discussions in ten year periods, i.e. “The Twenties,” “The Sixties,” etc., (“decadal thinking”) that is more a matter […]

The 1952 Presidential Election

Truman decided not to seek the presidency in 1952. Given the passage of the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution that limited a presidential candidate to two terms in the office, it was questionable whether Truman was qualified to run. The Democratic Party had to choose among three possible candidates: Adlai E. Stevenson, Governor of Illinois, […]

The 1956 Presidential Election

In the presidential election of 1956, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon defeated Democratic former Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois and his Vice-Presidential running mate Estes Kefauver in a re-match of the 1952 election. Supporters of the president focused on his “personal qualities … his sincerity, his integrity and sense of […]

The 1960 Presidential Election

In the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon’s position as two-time Vice-President for Eisenhower led him to be largely unopposed among the Republicans. However, on the Democratic side, there were numerous candidates vying for the nomination. The most significant Democratic hopefuls were Stuart Symington, Senator from Missouri, Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), Senator from Texas, John F. […]

Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex Speech

After World War II and the development of the Cold War with the Communists, the nature of America’s foreign defense system changed dramatically. Unlike after previous wars when the United States armed forces were dramatically reduced to “peace time status,” after WWII America kept a large standing army. Moreover, with the onset of nuclear bombs […]

The Stereotypical Family of the Fifties

The 1950s nuclear family emerged in the post WW II era, as Americans faced the imminent threat of destruction from their Cold War enemies. The ideal nuclear family turned inward, hoping to make their home front safe, even if the world was not. The image portrayed by the American television shows of the time period […]

Baby Boomers, The Consumption Society and Conformity

In the aftermath of WW II, there was a general shift in attitudes toward marriage and childbearing, a shift that caused many young adults to start their families at an early age. Nearly all published accounts about the Fifties stress the importance attached to home, family, and children. Many commentators ascribed this shift to a […]

Downtown Gives Way to the Shopping Mall

Suburban communities were supported by a cluster of retail stores – drug store (pharmacy), butcher shop (with sawdust on the floor), department stores, grocery store, barber shop, beauty shop, soda shop (ice cream parlor), diners and deli – located on “Main Street” in a “down town” shopping area. Most likely these shops were owned and […]

Fifties Diners (Drive-ins)

Nothing is more quintessentially American than ’50s-style diners, also known as “drive-in restaurants.” Diners, which were originally referred to as “lunch cars,” first appeared in New Jersey in the 1920s. By the 1950s, diners had grown in popularity, mainly due to their low prices, large menus, and extended hours. After World War II ended and […]