My current series happens in the 1920’s. I’ve always been fascinated with the turn of the 20th century (1880-1930). Why? Because it was a period of time when every part of the social fabric was changed.
2. Women organized grassroots organizations to fight for social causes. They led the way for change in issues like child labor, unionization for worker’s rights, healthcare for rural communities, access to education.
3. There was a shift, for better or worse, in how we communicated. In this time period, news went from print, to telegraph, to radio,and then to big screen. Telephones made communication between people far apart much quicker.
4. By this point in history, America had an identity as a melting pot. There was a little bit of every old world culture mixed into something uniquely ours under the protection of a democratic republic. Holidays began to become uniquely celebrated by communities. Unique new cultures were built by blending the old with the new. Irish-American, German-American, even Native American were terms used to describe these new blended identities united in their American patriotism.
5. Books became cheaper to produce. What writer couldn’t love the fact that books became affordable. This led to things like Carnegie’s support of the public library, books for schools and book mobiles to take out into the rural areas like the Appalachians and farmlands of the U.S.
6. Christianity underwent an exploratory phase and almost every denomination created a uniquely American version of their heritage. It is hard to imagine now but before this time period there were only a handful of large denominations. Most people identified as Catholic, Anglican, or Protestant with a few subdivisions like Methodists, Presbyterians, Antibaptists, Baptists, and Lutherans. But during the late 1800’s groups like the Adventists and Pentecostal created new experiential theologies. Likewise the larger denominations began to subdivide as they moved around the country and adapted to the unique blending of cultures.
8. British Imperialism has domesticated the world and traveling abroad is in vogue. This is when we see the well off travel the world going on African safaris, exploring the Egyptian pyramids, and going to China and India. All this travel was chronicled in print, photography and film, making dreams of traveling the world seem almost tangible to the masses.
9. It was the period in which horses, trollies, and cars shared the road. For that matter, roads began to be paved. I would love to go back and watch liveries be turned into garages as repair of wagons gave way to repairing automobiles.
10. Sanitation improved. Let’s be honest. Up until this period most sanitation was just dumped in the alley. But as cities figured out how to raise the town and let the sewage run down hill, then plumbing created the need for drains and sewage pipes, the world got much cleaner. As sanitation methods improved, so did health and access to clean water.
What’s your favorite time period?