The 1920's Dbq

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  • Topic: Polish language, Ku Klux Klan, Poles
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1920’s DBQ


The 1920’s were a period of tension between new and changing attitudes on the one hand and traditional values and nostalgia on the other. What led to the tension between old and new AND in what ways was the tension manifested?

Analyze these documents in pairs. You can use their textbooks and/or the power point we used in class to help build their understanding of the material. You should write a thesis statement, intro paragraph and outline a proposed answer. The outline should indicate how you would use the documents to support their argument.

Document A

Just as he was an Elk, a Booster and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, just as the priests of the Presbyterian Church determined his every religious belief and the senators who controlled the Republican Party decided in little smoky rooms in Washington what he should think about disarmament, tariff, and Germany, so did the large national advertisers fix the surface of his life, fix what he believed to be his individuality. These standard advertised wares—toothpastes, socks, tires, cameras, and instantaneous hot water heaters—were his symbols and proofs of excellence; at first the signs, then the substitutes, for joy and passion and wisdom.

Source: Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, 1922

Document B


Source: Georgia O’Keefe, The Radiator Building at Night (NYC) , 1927 (painting)

Source C


Source: Ethel Walker, singer and actress, 1925 (photograph)

Document D

Source: The First Measured Century (PBS)

Document E

Mr Darrow: Do you claim that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted?

Mr. Bryan:I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there; some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: “Ye are the salt of the earth.” I would not insist that man was actually salt, or he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving God’s people

Mr. Darrow: But when you read that Jonah swallowed the whale—or that the whale swallowed Jonah—excuse me please—how do you literally interpret that?

Mr. Bryan: One miracle is just as easy to believe as another….

Mr. Darrow;Perfectly easy to believe that Jonah swallowed the whale?....


Mr. Bryan:You honor, I think I can shorten this testimony. The only purpose Mr. Darrow has is to slur at the Bible, but I will answer his question. I will answer it all at once, and I have no objection in the world, I want the world to know that this man, who does not believe in God, is trying to use a court in Tennessee—

Mr. Darrow:I object to that

Mr. Bryan: (continuing) to slur at it, and while it will require time, I am willing to take it.

Mr. Darrow:I object to your statement. I am examining you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes.

Source: Scopes Trial Transcript, 1925

Source F


Source: Edward Hopper, Corner Drug Store, 1927 (painting)

Source G

We are a movement of the plain people, very weak in the matter of culture, intellectual support, and trained leadership. We are demanding, and we expect to win, a return of power into the hands of the everyday, not highly cultured, not overly intellectualized, but of the old stock. Our members and leaders are all of this class—the opposition of the intellectuals and liberals who held the leadership, betrayed Americanism, and from whom we expect to wrest control, is almost automatic.

This is undoubtedly a weakness. It lays us open to the chare of being ‘hicks’ and ‘rubes’ and ‘drivers of second-hand fords.’ We admit it. Far worse, it makes it hard for us to state our case and advocate our crusade in the most effective way, for most of us lack skill in language.


The Klan, therefore, has now come to speak for the great mass of Americans of the old pioneer stock. We believe that it does fairly and faithfully represent them, and our...
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