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 […]

Advent and Growth of Television

Perhaps no phenomenon shaped American life in the 1950s more than television (TV). TV altered most all aspects of American life—its recreation habits, its advertising and shopping, and its politics. Experimental television was developed in the 1920s. At the end of World War II, the television was a toy for only a few thousand wealthy […]

Television Shaped Family Life in The Fifties

Television programing in the Fifties was made up of news, game shows, westerns, soap operas, kids shows, sports, comedy and variety shows, late night talk shows and current events/politics. It was an “amazing parade of puppets, comedians, and cowboys… marched across the tiny 9-inch screen.” (Goodwin, p 121.)

Game Shows/Quiz Shows

Popular 1950s game shows included What’s My Line ?, Twenty-One, I’ve Got a Secret, Name That Tune and You Bet Your Life. Viewership ratings are the fuel that powers television generally and game shows most particularly. It did not take long for game show producers to figure out that they could manipulate their shows to […]


Television westerns are a subgenre of  television programming in which stories are set primarily in the American Old West, Western Canada and Mexico during the period from the end of the Civil War to the end of the so-called “Indian Wars” at the end of the nineteenth century. Early TV western series helped define America […]