1950s Webquest



Through this webquest you will be exploring the culture and trends of the 1950s. Remember to record what you find on your worksheet.

Suburban Living, Teen Life and Gender Roles

  1.   The GI Bill was intended to help returning WWII veterans get inexpensive mortgages and college tuition.  How successful was it? (we will discuss as a class and use  http://www.detroityes.com/webisodes/2002/8mile/021106-04-8mile-berlin-wall.htm )
  2. Congratulations! You have just been married. Take a look at this Home Economics textbook to find some tips on how to be the perfect housewife (or what to expect of her if you are the husband).
  3. What should be expected of the housewife?  the husband/father?  What does Life Magazine say?
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/752219/remembering_life_magazines_1956_description.html   (female role)                                                                                                                            http://93778645.nhd.weebly.com/the-1950s.html (male role)
  4. Time to move to the suburbs! You and your spouse have decided to buy a house in Levittown, NY. 
  5. You received a new TV as a wedding present. One of your favorite shows is I Love Lucy - you and your family never miss an episode! Watch the clip above from a classic episode, in this episode Lucy and Ethel have gone to charm school and change their appearance to try and impress their husbands and get their marriages out of a "rut".
  6. Variety shows were also popular during the 1950s and the Ed Sullivan Show was one of the best. Click on the link above to read more about the show. Elvis was a frequent guest on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Not all teenagers were allowed to watch Elvis though and his performances were often censored.  Why was Elvis a controversial guest, and how was he eventually "allowed" to be on TV (i.e. how did the tape him?)  Use http://www.elvispresleymusic.com.au/pictures/1956_1957_elvis_ed_sullivan_show.html  
  7. As exciting as it was, not everyone wanted to conform to the mainstream culture (that's sarcasm!!). One outspoken group was the Beatniks. Click on the lick to read more about where the word "beat" comes from. Also read part of The Road by Jack Kerouac, one of the most prominent members of the Beat Generation.
  8. Congratulations - you have fraternal twins.  Pick a male and female name. www.weddingvendors.com/baby-names/popular/1950s/
  9. Your older son is now a teenager.  Is he a greaser or soc? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greaser_(subculture)  www.loti.com/fifties_history/Teenage_Life_in_the_1950s.htm
  10. Describe your appearance, your spouse, and your teenage son.  Describe in words and sketch head to toe what your character would have been wearing in the following situations:
  • school (son)
  • date/dance (son)
  • day to day activities (all 3 of you)
  • dinner party (you and your spouse)
     11.  Name, describe in words, and sketch the hairstyle that you might have worn daily.

     12.  List 2 teen idols that your son might have looked up to.  

     13. List 5 slang terms with the definition that your character uses.  

     14. Name 1 dance that was popular in the 1950ís and describe it.  

     15.  Wow....your son is now starting to be interested in girls!  He wants to do things like ask a girl out,     have a party.  It is time for "the talk."  Your boy is growing up fast, but you don't want him to grow up too fast and forget the family.  To make things more stressful, your niece is also looking to you for advice on how to behave, and how to prepare for her future. Use the YouTube videos (1-4) attached below to learn what to explain to them.

     16.  Unfortunately your teenage son is starting to get a little too "independent."  He is not following societal norms.  He is getting rebellious.  Use the following websites to find out why.  You also searched his room while he was at school and found all sorts of rebellious music, movies, and books.  Use the links below to find out more about them, and for TV shows you would like him to watch.
http://www.filmsite.org/50sintro.html  (find the 4 rebellious movies, and the Rock N Roll themed TV show)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Catcher_in_the_Rye (book)
http://classictvprogram.com/father-knows-best-remains-one-of-the-best-loved-family-sitcoms.html (classic TV show)

 17.  At a recent dinner party, a "free thinking" twentysomething called you an Organization Man (or your husband, if you're the wife).  What did he mean?|

   18.  Just like your son, you want to be accepted (and admired) by your peers.  One requirement for the admiration of your peers was a "Diners Club Card."  It was a status symbol.  

19.  You've noticed many cars on the road.  Watch You Tube video # 5 below to investigate.

20.  You are getting bored in Levittown.  Everything is the same.  You didn't even notice until you heard the song "Little Boxes" by Melvina Reynolds.  But you think that Pete Seeger's version is much better.  Watch You Tube video # 6 to check it out.  The song is about the development of suburbia and the associated conformity.  It refers to suburban housing as "little boxes" of different colors.  

21.  Deep down inside you are unhappy (and you think the same is true about your spouse).  Check out You Tube Video #7 to see how the government and economy claim you can be happy and express yourself.

Politics/Red Scare
22. Wow........the Russians got the bomb (1949)!!!!  How in the world did they get the bomb that quickly.  Your neighbors think it must have been Soviet spies in the United States.  Your interest in politics and possible espionage is peaked.  You research this topic very thoroughly.  The resources for this question are links and resource 8 on the bottom of the webquest page.

a. McCarthyism (Wikipedia link -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism )

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