The 1950s: In Class Note Taking Sheet

Idea Notes Category
Maureen "Little Mo"
  • She changed the style and look of women's tennis.
  • She was hard-hitting and fast paced.
  • First woman to win the grand slam in tennis.
  • Paved the way for interest in women's sports.
Transistor Radio
  • Replaced vacuum tubes, which broke easily and took up space.

  •  Bardeen, Shockley, & Brattain developed it in 1947.

  • Led to transistor radio and transistorized TV.

  • Use of Silicon led to creation of microchip.

Science & Technology
Tail Fins and Chrome
  • Style was more important than cost, safety, ease of use.
  • Design was inspired by trains, planes, or subs.
  • Tail fins came from the P-38 "Lightning" Fighter.
  • By 1959, 80% of all families owned cars.
The "Shot Heard Round the World"
  • 1951 Classic game between Dodgers & Giants
  • Bobby Thompson led Giants to victory.
  • TV and Radio led to drop in attendance
  • Racial integration made the games more popular
US launches Satellites
  • Russia launched Sputnik in 1957.
  • US launches explorer I in 1958.
  • NASA set up in 1958.
  • Funding for schools improve math & science scores.
Science & Technology
Drive-in movies

  • Helped Hollywood compete with TV.
  • Cheap way for a family to go to the movies: kids wore PJs and huddled under blankets.
  • Teenagers got away from parents.
  • More cars allowed greater freedom.
Victory Over Polio


  • Developed by Jonas Salk in 1952.
  • Polio cases dropped 97%.
  • FDR's case brought national attention to infantile paralysis. The vaccine helped the baby boom.
  • March of Dimes helped in raising funds for polio research.
Science & Technology
Advances in Surgery
  • Technology improved in technique and equipment.
  • heart valves and heart-lung machines.
  • Artificial veins used.
Science & Technology
Hula Hoop Toys


  • Became a national craze in the 1950s
  • 20 million sold
  • banned by USSR and Japan as examples of "American emptiness."
  • TV exposure led to a child-driven toy craze.
Computers in Business
  • Early computers were as big as a room.
  • First computer weighed 16,000 lbs and used magnetic tape to record data.
  • Govt. built the UNIVAC for computations.
  • 1954:  20 computers. 1960: 2000 computers.
Science & Technology
Teen Fashion

  • Blue jeans, bobby socks, and the poodle skirts.
  • "Preppie": Wholesome look.
  • Greaser: inspired by the Wild One with Brando wore leather and a "duck tail" hair style.
  • Teens had more freedom, money and were targeted by advertisers.
3-D Movies

  • Produced to try and bring audiences back from TV.
  • Audience had to wear special glasses while watching.
  • Lasted from 1952-1954.
Commercial Jet Aircraft
  • 1958: Pan Am used a Boeing 707 to fly passengers form NY to Paris.
  • Jets went two times faster than propeller planes.
  • Original purpose was military.
  • Air Force One was a Boeing 707 but is now 747.
Science & Technology
Modern American Furniture
  • "American modern" made from synthetic materials.
  • Design was simplified. Included "Kitsch" or "fun style."
  • Mass produced: wire, plastic, plywood.
  • Worked well in suburban houses.
Desegregation of Public Schools
  • Supreme court declared separate but equal was illegal.
  • Segregation violated the 14 Amendment.
  • After 1954 all school were ordered to desegregate. Resistance found throughout the South.
People & Events
Interstate Highway System
  • Started in 1956 to give the military ability to move men, materials.
  • Made commuting over long distance easier.
  • Put more Americans on the road for vacations.
Science & Technology
Rock & Roll

  • Combined rhythm & blues, country & western, and gospel.
  • Strongly influenced by blacks.
  • 1955: Bill Haley & the Comets: Rock Around the Clock.
  • Elvis Presley became a big star by 1956.
Arts & Entertainment
Singin' In the Rain

  • Released in 1952: told the story of the change from silent films to Talkies.
  • One of the most famous scenes in movies: Gene Kelley dancing in the rain.
  • Integrated songs into the story line.
Arts & Entertainment
Suburbs Attract
  • GI Bill and FHA allowed more Americans to buy homes.
  • Demand grew for single family homes.
  • Features for casual living were added.
  • people used cars to get back and forth to work.
On The Waterfront
  • 1954: about organized crime in the labor movement, esp. the longshoremen's union.
  • Starring Marlon Brando and Karl Malden.
  • Based on a series of articles by Malcolm Johnson.
  • Leonard Bernstein wrote the music.
  • Brando: "I coulda been a condenter!"
Arts & Entertainment
West Side Story

  • Based on Romeo & Juliet
  • new dance themes: ballet 7 jazz.
  • Leonard Bernstein, Steven Sondheim & Jerome Robbins
  • Movie won 10 Oscars in 1961.
Arts & Entertainment
The Cold War

  • Struggle between communism and democracy.
  • US & USSR: spies secret actions, influencing other nations.
  • Soviets got the bomb in 1949.
  • Hot wars in Korea and Vietnam. 
  • Fear of nuclear war has kids doing "duck and cover" drills.
People & Events
I Love Lucy
  • Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez starred in one of the most popular shows of all time.
  • Based on a radio show "My Favorite Husband"
  • First show filmed before real people.
  • 10 Million households tuned in each week.
Arts & Entertainment
Rocky Marciano,
  • Starting 1947: Rocky won all 49 fights, 43 by KO.
  • "Brockton Blockbuster" beat Joe Lewis in 1951.
  • Heavyweight champion 1952-1956.
  • Symbolized the American dream.
  • TV made boxing popular.
The Korean War

  • 1.5 Million Americans served in Korea.
  • US involvement came as a result of fear of communism.
  • No one won: pre-war border was resumed at 38th parallel.
People & Events
Dr. Seuss' Cat In The Hat
  • Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote Cat In the Hat in 1957.
  • He won 3 academy awards and a 1984 Pulitzer Prize.
  • He also wrote "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Arts & Entertainment
World Series Rivals
  • NY Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers were rivals.
  • Played each other 4 times in the 1950s.
  • NY: Casey Stengel, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto.
  • Brooklyn: Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges. they went to LA in 1958.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Elected president 1952 and 1956.
  • Former Supreme Commander in Europe
  • Policy was to contain communism.
  • First election to be shown on TV.
People & Events
New York School

  • Jackson Pollock broke out of traditional painting styles.
  • He dripped, threw, poured paint on canvas.
  • Considered to be a modern master today.
  • Began abstract expressionism.
Arts & Entertainment
Stock Car Racing

  • Outgrowth of American love affair with cars.
  • NASCAR started: standards for rules established.
  • Drag racing came off streets and onto tracks.
  • American Hot Rod Assoc. formed.


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