Slang of the 1920's

Paavo Nurmi won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928.

In 1920, the kid’s bike was introduced. Since adults were riding in automobiles, the market needed someone to buy their bicycles.

The palmer raids continue escalating. In January 1920, another 6,000 ipeople were arrested, mostly members of the Industrial Workers of the World union. During one of the raids, more than 4,000 individuals were rounded up in a single night. All foreign aliens caught were deported, with no requirement that there be any evidence against them, under the provisions of the Anarchist Act. All in all, by January 1920, Palmer and Hoover had organized the largest mass arrests in U.S. history, rounding up at least 10,000 individuals.

For most of 1919 and early 1920, much of the public sided with Palmer, but this soon changed. Palmer announced that an attempted Communist revolution was certain to take place in the U.S. on May 1, 1920 (May Day). No such revolution took place, leading to widespread derision of Palmer. Once seen as a likely presidential candidate, he lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to dark horse candidate James M. Cox

"I desire not merely to explain what the real menace of communism is, but also to tell how we have been compelled to clean up the country almost unaided by any virile legislation. Though I have not been embarrassed by political opposition, I have been materially delayed because the present sweeping processes of arrests and deportation of seditious aliens should have been vigorously pushed by Congress last spring." A. Mitchell Palmer The Case Against the Reds (PDF) 1920

Following WWI (the war to end all wars), talented young authors, some expatriates in France, wrote about their feelings of disillusionment and alienation. A sense of rebellion developed and the victorian idea of decency was considered hypocritical. Writers began to write frankly about sexuality.

Centered in Harlem, NY, and other urban areas during the 1920s, black writers published more than ever before. Influential and lasting black authors, artists, and musicians received their first serious critical appraisal. This group included Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, and Alain Locke , who was considered the chief interpreter for the Harlem movement. or the Harlem Renaissance.

August 18 - American women gain the right to vote when the 19th amendment is ratified:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1920 Mrs. Wilson's Cookbook - Numerous New Recipes Based on Present Economic Conditions. It includes recipes for making Ice Cream at home. In 1920 Thomas Edison told reporter B.F. Forbes that he was working on a machine that could make contact with the spirits of the dead.

Until the development in the mid-1920's of electrical recordings -- recording aided by microphones and electrical amplifiers during the recording process, and electrical amplification and loudspeakers for playback -- all sound recording processes were The diaphragm and needle cutting an acoustic record were powered only by the force of a voice. A speaker making a record had to shout into a recording horn to successfully record. Thus, almost no speeches recorded in the acoustic era are actuality recordings. All of the speeches recorded for the Nation's Forum were delivered solely for the recording machine, without a public audience. Since phonograph records in this period were limited to about three minutes, someone -- presumably the speaker -- abridged or selected highlights from longer speeches. Some speeches are represented by two or three very similar takes.

Dixieland one step 1920 edison recording composed by Dixieland Jazz Band performed by Lopez and Hamilton's Kings of Harmony

Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me 1920 Edison recording Raderman's Jazz Orchestra

The1920s have been called the Golden Age of Sports. From the very beginning of the decade extraordinary athlete-heroes emerged in virtually every sport — baseball, football, tennis, golf, polo, and the Olympic sports. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Red Grange, Knute Rockne, Helen Wills, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, and Tommy Hitchcock established records and, in the process, became legends.

1920 Headin' Home - Babe Ruth video 4m

Charleston dance video

1920? Jaycees is founded, providing democratic leadership training opportunities through the projects and programs members plan, organize and conduct in their communities.

By 1920, Brooklyn’s Coney Island cycle path is dominated by motor vehicles.


The term "robot" was first used in a play called "R.U.R." or "Rossum's Universal Robots" by the Czech writer Karel Capek.

The January 26, 1921 issue of the Memphis Press contained the headline: "May Lynch 3 to 6 Negroes This Evening." Clergymen and business leaders often participated in lynchings. Few of the people who committed lynchings were ever punished. What makes the lynchings all the more chilling is the carnival atmosphere and aura of self-righteousness that surrounded the grizzly events.

1921 Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was one of the highest paid actor/directors in the motion picture business. But on September 5 of that year, during a weekend party he was throwing at the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco, the water in the goldfish bowl turned murky. Virginia Rappe (Rap-pay), a girl attending the party, ran screaming from a bedroom, took sick and died four days later.

Benjamin Brawley publishesSocial History of the American Negro

September 13, 1921 Wichita, Kansas, first White Castle restaurant is opened.

On September 17 Roscoe Arbuckle was arraigned in San Francisco charged with the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe.

Swing Low Sweet Chariot December 07, 1921 Edison recording Performed by The Southern Four 4:13

My Mammy 1921 performed by Diamond Trio audio 2:41

Second Hand Rose 1921 Fannie Brice audio 3:19

Stoney Broke in No Man's Land 1921 Frank Miller audio 3:10

Ain't We Got Fun 1921 Billy Jones audio 2:56


August 2 1922 Alexander Graham Bell dies.

Yma Súmac was born on September 13, 1922 in Cajamarca, Peru

A Day with Thomas Edison 0:32

The discovery of King Tut's tomb

Book: Ulysses by James Joyce

November 26, 1922 Charles Monroe Schulz born

Excavation of Ur

Commençant en 1922, Casadesus a collaboré avec l'effilochure de Maurice de compositeur sur un projet pour créer des rouleaux de piano d'un certain nombre de ses travaux.

Beginning in 1922, Casadesus collaborated with the composer Maurice Ravel on a project to create piano rolls of a number of his works. Jeux d'eau - Ravel piano roll

Carolina in the Morning 1922 Paul Whitemen audio 3:05

The Flirt - Harold Lloyd film

Young Sherlocks - Our Gang 9:58


1923 - The Country Club Plaza (often referred to as "the Plaza") is an upscale shopping district in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

Opera reel with calls November 24, 1923 Jasper Bisbee - fiddle, Beulah Bisbee-Schuler - piano.

Canal Street Blues - King Oliver 3:00

Boys To Board - Our Gang 1/2 8:06

Boys To Board - Our Gang 2/2 9:51

Affectionate Dan - Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle


Southern Blues Guitar Duet

Pharoah's Army Got Drownded July 09, 1924 Edison recording Performed by "colored quartet" (windowmedia)

Lonesome Road Blues (windowsmedia) September 22, 1924 The Blue Ridge Duo (Gene Austin and George Reneau) Edison recording.

Toastmasters was formed in October 1924, when a group of men assembled by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley met in the basement of the Santa Ana, California, YMCA to form a club "to afford practice and training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and to promote sociability and good fellowship among its members."

1924: Music: "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin


1925 - Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925 - Instead of using names and colored bands on telephone poles, this new system would use uniform numbers for inter-state highways and a standardized shield that would be universally recognizable. The most important change was that this new system would be administered by the states, not by for-profit private road clubs. Even then, people decried the idea of giving roads numbers since they felt numbers would make highways cold and impersonal.

1925: Book: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

John Scopes, a high school teacher, was arrested on May 5, 1925, for teaching evolution from a chapter in a textbook which showed ideas developed from those set out in Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species.

July - Adolph Hitler publishes Mein Kampf

1925: The New Yorker debuts

St. Louis Blues September 04, 1925 Edison recording 3:39 by W.C. Handy performed by Frank Ferera and John Paaluhi - Hawaiian guitar duet.

By the mid twenties the introduction of radio broadcasting causes a drop in record sales. In response the record companies introduced electrical recordings and a new range of technically advanced machines (such as the HMV Orthophonic Gramophone) to play them. The increased loudness and improved tonal qualities revived the sales of both records and talking machines.

first electrical recordings?

With the advent of the microphone and electrical recording in 1925, the acoustical era of recording ended

Invention: Television

Film: "The Gold Rush"

Desire Under the Elms - Eugene O'Neill 1925 (text)

Table Ballet - Charlie Chaplin 1925

Night at the Kit Kat in London 9:48


1926: Book: "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway

Roaring 20s: Jan Garber 's Orch. - Baby Face, 1926

Muskrat Ramble - Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five 2:47


1927: Babe Ruth hits 59 home runs in one season

Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight - Bessie Smith 3:10

Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree - Carter Family recording August 1, 1927

Potato Head Blues - Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven 3:48

Toot Toot Tootsie - Al Jolson

My Mammy - Al Jolson

California Here I Come - Al Jolson


In 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming, working in London, discovers that a mould on one of his culture plates produced a substance, penicillin, that killed bacteria.

Inventor Philo T. Farnsworth was one of the first inventors of the electronic television.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead publishes Coming of Age in Samoa, a study that has an impact on sexual mores in the West.

Child killer, Albert Fish surfaces.

1928: The first Mickey Mouse cartoon American film-maker Walt Disney creates Mickey Mouse. European films include G W Pabst's Pandora's Box.

German scientist Fritz Pfleumer invents magnetic tape.

Anssin jukka ja härman häät - Otto Pyykkonen March 08 Edison 3:02

May 10 Wildwood Flower - Carter Family

Barbara Allen - August 15, 1928 Frank Luther and his Pards - Edison recording

British novelist D H Lawrence publishes Lady Chatterley's Lover privately in Florence, but soon the book, with its scenes of explicit sex, is banned in several countries.

Eddie Thomas & Carl Scott - My Ohio Home (November 21, 1928)


Emanuel H. Bronner immigrates to the USA, dropping the "Heil" from his name in protest of Hitler, becoming Dr. Bronner.

"The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner

In 1929 Charles Francis Potter founded the First Humanist Society of New York whose advisory board eventually included Julian Huxley, John Dewey, Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. Potter was a minister from the Unitarian tradition and in 1930 he and his wife, Clara Cook Potter, published Humanism: A New Religion. Throughout the 1930s Potter was a well-known advocate of women’s rights, access to birth control, "civil divorce laws", and an end to capital punishment.

On Black Thursday, 24 October, US investors beginning selling their shares in a panic, causing the Wall Street crash. This results in a worldwide economic downturn – the Great Depression – leading to bankruptcies and mass unemployment.

More than 200 Zionist settlers, hoping to form a Jewish state, are massacred by Palestinians in Hebron.

The German Graf Zeppelin airship flies around the world.

Leon Trotsky is exiled from the Soviet Union by Stalin.

A sculpture by Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, symbolises the clean lines of modern art.

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's musical Show Boat, based on Edna Ferber's novel of life on the Mississippi, is first performed, showing how America's racial tensions are reflected in drama.

The term "moving pictures" is replaced by the term "talking pictures"

early terminology for technology incuded flying machine talking machine horseless carriage notes on slang

Frankie and Johnny 1920's

Makin' Whoopee 1920's performed by Louisiana Collegians 3:00 (windowsmedia)

King Porter: A Stomp - Jelly Roll Morton 1920's

St. Louis Blues starring Bessie Smith 8:30 The title track is the ever first published Blues collected and notated by musicologist W. C. Handy

Dec. 6, 1929 Sweeping the Clouds Away - Coon Sanders Orchestra

Mary Don't Weep (March 21, 1929)

1929 Bentley

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Dixie - 1908 cylinder recording

Songs of the Omaha Tribe (February 26, 1971)