Was It Really Like That?

Posted by on May 7, 2010


In the image to our left, we appear to see the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre underway, however, this image from the Chicago Daily News is only a reenactment of the event that actually occured on that fateful day in 1929.  However, looking deeper, this picture can also stand for our views (and viewpoints) of the 1920’s looking from the perspective of people living in 2010.

However, is this a fair assumption?  Were the 1920’s really like we remember them?  A time of flappers, gangsters in the streets and a heady economic times, at least until the Crash?  Is what we are teaching our children in school accurate?

Any student of history knows that the passage of time changes perception of an era, resulting in generalizations and popular topics replacing how life really was.  That’s just the way it is and quite honestly, will probably always be.

However, I feel we owe it to those who actually lived it to be fair and portrait their times as accurately as possible….helping ourselves and future generations in the years to come.

With this in mind, I’ve got some links to primary source materials from the 1920’s that present a series of events that you might not be aware of.  Use these to help form a more accurate picture of daily life.

So at least with these two citations, we’re finding out that like today, everyday life was really not that much different….What else can we find?


In this clipping from Popular Science, we see many of the same thoughts on education that parents today have–the age old education verses making one’s own way in life.  Even then, there was debate!

I guess the upshot to this post today is that yes, there were massive changes in the 1920’s that would change America (and other nations) in the years ahead.  However, there was also daily life, which on closer examination doesn’t seem too much different.

So when you teach your students about history (or maybe just your own kids) remember this, that is to give them the full story and not just the headlines.  What follows are some more links that you might find enjoyable and help you in this journey of discovery!

Hey, did you know camping was really taking off during this time:


Have a great weekend!


Google Books

American Memory Project

Google Timeline (Search by Decades)


Image #1: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of Chicago History Museum. (American Memory Project)

Images #2 and #3 Google Books, keyword search:  Popular Mechanics, Popular Science

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