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Old Posted Jan 23, 2021, 12:09 AM
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Found Images of the 1920s & 1930s, Start of the Modern Era

"Welcome to Modern Times"--Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey

*About this Blog*

I've always been fascinated by the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the cities. So much of our "modern era" started then. Our technology and communications, culture, fashion, sports and style, political movements, economic and financial practices, etc. Here is a thread to share found photos and videos from that era available on the internet (many posted on youtube) especially images of the lives of ordinary people. Spend some time in the 1920s and '30s, where so much began.

The first posts/videos will deal mostly with the 1920s. Later will tiptoe into the "Dirty '30s". The 1920s were like a wild party you don't want to leave. But the '30s were in many ways even more important, laying the foundation for the modern activist government and social welfare state, with the programs we either love or love to hate like social security.

All the videos and photos will be interesting first, and the best and most informative I could find on a subject ( e.g. the 1929 stock market crash, iconic "flappers", etc). Entertaining and informative I hope, boring hopefully never. I aim to bring the 1920s and 1930s alive again, to make you feel like you are there. The posts will veer over a wide variety of subjects. I have been a student of the 1920s & 1930s for decades, so I have found and continue to find the choice material I think. I will credit the sources always. I won't post everything at once, but will space it out from time to time as I find it, like a good movie serial. I will add good items to a posting topic as I find them. stir example, if I find a good video on Babe Ruth, or the 1929 stock crash, it will be added to that posting topic. If anybody finds interesting 1920s/1930s videos/photos on subjects of common entertainment and interest, feel free to post them. Hopefully this becomes a "go to" entertaining and informative blog for the two decades, sources properly credited.

If I find good videos to add to a topic, I will go back and add it to the original entry. This way everything for that topic will be in the single window.

This is my love story with the 1920s and my grim respect for the 1930s, opposite but paired decades that gave birth to the modern world. Will start with the '20s, and later move to the "Dirty Thirties". Will start my blog with what ended the "Roaring '20s", the "Great Crash" of 1929.

Last edited by CaliNative; May 19, 2022 at 6:04 AM.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2021, 11:28 PM
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Wonderful PBS video on 1920s & 1929 stock market crash

Made in 1990 but because of that they were still able to interview people alive and working on Wall Street during the 1929 crash. All of these people would ge gone now, so this kind of first person account couldn't be remade today. You will love it, especially if you are a stock investor interested in financial history and avoiding market crashes. From the excellent "American Experience" series, "The Crash of 1929". About 50 minutes long but well worth it and still the best documentary of the crash of 1929.

Today the market looks as speculative and frothy as it was in 1929 before the crash, so this might save you some money if stocks crash again. It is very entertaining and you will become an expert on the "Great Crash". Lots of period film footage. Enjoy! :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAZjlxWNszw&t=2695s

Source: from The American Experience--"The Crash of 1929", PBS video on youtube

Note: video no longer available, 4/3/22. I'll try to find one as good.

Fred MacMurray sings the 1929 hit song "I'm in the Market for You" released in the summer of 1929 right before the crash that started after Labor Day. Song was a big hit since everybody was obsessed with the stock market. Fred starts crooning about half way through. MacMurray started as a singer and musician before his busy acting acting career in films and television. Who doesn't remember Fred in the noirish classic "Double Indemnity" or "My Three Sons"? But before that, he was a saxophonist and singer:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Apr 3, 2022 at 12:41 PM.
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2021, 9:47 AM
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Concert pianist Margaret Shotwell loses $1 million in '29 Crash

Video Link


Fox movietone video of stock crash victim Margaret Shotwell, who lost her fortune in the crash. Will you buy her chinchilla coat? Filmed in late October 1929. "Don't play the stock market".

Colorized version with outtakes:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 11:25 AM.
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Old Posted Sep 25, 2021, 8:02 AM
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Famous monetary economist Irving Fisher of Yale U. reassures investors the day after the Oct. 29, 1929 crash ("Black Tuesday") that economy is fundamentally sound & prosperity will continue (haha). Fox movietone sound short:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Jan 8, 2022 at 7:23 PM.
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Old Posted Sep 25, 2021, 9:14 AM
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The 1920s in Color

Video no longer available.

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 10:48 AM.
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  #6  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2021, 7:34 AM
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1918-1920 flu pandemic in 7 minutes

Short but informative history of the 1918-1920 "Spanish" flu pandemic. The theories about the origin of the 1918 virus presented in the video are especially interesting. One theory suggests that Chinese workers may have brought the pandemic to Europe, as there was a bird flu epidemic in China a few months before.

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 3:02 AM.
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  #7  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2021, 7:53 AM
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Babe Ruth

Great tell all bio and character study of the Babe, warts and all. From HBO via YouTube

Video Link


More Babe Ruth posts ahead

Last edited by CaliNative; Apr 3, 2022 at 8:21 PM.
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  #8  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2021, 10:16 PM
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Frank Lloyd Wright in L.A.-- the 1920s houses

Outstanding documentary on FLW, focusing on his Los Angeles area houses of the late teens and 1920s, when Wright spent a lot of time in L.A. and even considered moving here (his architect son did). The film also has a lot of biographical material about his often tragic & scandal-plagued life:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3juSckHif90and

Frank Lloyd Wright on "What's My Line?", mid '50s:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=cMXK_KtUVm4

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 10:39 AM.
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2021, 9:53 AM
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"The King of Jazz", technicolor musical from 1929/1930

"The King of Jazz" was an early musical in technicolor, filmed mostly in late 1929 and released in 1930. The self proclaimed "King of Jazz" was band leader/musician Paul Whiteman, who commissioned and conducted the first performance of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in NYC in 1924, with Gershwin at the piano. This film has a reprise of that performance, shown below.

But first, also in the film, Bing Crosby and the "Rhythm Boys" perform the amusing and catchy popular song "Happy Feet". No wonder the 1920s are sometimes called the "Era of Wonderful Nonsense"! Watching this will transport you back to 1929 care free sillyness as effectively as a time machine, and dig those cute brunette bobbed haired sisters (not twins, a year apart in age) Eleanor and Karla Gutohrlein. If watching " Happy Feet" doesn't make you smile and feel happier, I don't know what would:

Video Link


Gloriously clear and restored "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence from the King of Jazz, with George Gershwin himself at the piano (watch his fingers fly on the keys) & the athletic Gutohrlein sisters again channeling the Louise Brooks look. In sound & original technicolor. Hop aboard the time machine to 1929 right here, right now:

Video Link




Original 1924 recording of Rhapsody in Blue, recorded shortly after Aeolian Hall Premier in NYC:

Video Link


Before I "Rhapsody in Blue" you to death, here is the famous multi piano performance at the 1984 L.A. Olympics opening ceremony. You can clearly see how the production was influenced by "The King of Jazz", except with multiple pianos (84 pianos for the year) instead of a giant prop piano that held the band. Spectacular! I was there:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Jan 5, 2022 at 8:08 AM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2021, 8:31 PM
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1920s Slang

Video Link


from "The 1920s Channel", you tube

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 25, 2021 at 8:05 AM.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 2, 2021, 12:16 AM
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Flapper Icons #1: Louise Brooks, "Lulu"

First, Flappers explained:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7WgqDhmmZc&t=212s

LOUISE BROOKS, the loveliest of all in my opinion and many others:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG4sszUYTII&t=10s

Both of above from "The 1920s Channel", on youtube

Louise Brooks, in interview shortly before her death in 1985, talks about fellow star CLARA BOW, the "It Girl":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwIc8FjuRdc&t=55s

Louise wrote her autobiography in 1982, "Lulu in Hollywood". It was a best seller. Very entertaining book.

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 25, 2021 at 8:10 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2021, 8:01 AM
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The "Great Skyscraper War" of 1929 -- 40 Wall St. vs. Chrysler to be World's Tallest

The Chrysler Bldg. (1046') won the battle with the Manhattan Co. (40 Wall St., 927') by hoisting a hidden and secret spire up the elevator shaft on October 23, 1929, the same week the stock market started the climactic phase of the crash. Less than one year later Chrysler lost the height war for good when the Empire State Building (1250') rose higher as the economy plunged into the abyss of the Great Depression. Both the Chrysler building and the Empire State building (derisively called the "Empty State Building" in the 1930s) didn't reach full occupancy until the 1950s.

Video, about 12 minutes & very interesting, from "All Things Architecture"/"Architecture by Design" on youtube:

Video Link


Building the Empire State Building; documentary from "It's History" on youtube:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 25, 2021 at 8:11 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 10:12 AM
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The Sad Downfall of Funnyman Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

From "The 1920s Channel" on youtube. Video about 13 minutes.

Video Link


Arbuckle was the proverbial jolly fatman and a big star. In 1921, he was prosecuted for causing the the death of starlet Virginia Rappe during a party in his suite at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. The tabloid press implied that the 350 lb. "Fatty" crushed Rappe during sex, rupturing her bladder. The jury found him not guilty, and apologized to Roscoe at the end of his 3rd trial. But his career never recovered, and he was often depressed. Louise Brooks, who was in a film with Arbuckle in 1931, said he was morose and acted like a "dead man", not good for a comic actor. But before he died in 1933, Arbuckle had a good movie offer from Warner Bros. and died "a happy man" thinking his career was on the upswing according to his wife. He was only 46.

Arbuckle rescues a child from a rabid dog at great risk to himself in 1927. Witnessed by child actress Jean Darling, a member of the "Our Gang" silents in the late 1920s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thDGF1_iQGc&t=71s[/YOUTUBE]

Coming soon: the Scopes "monkey" Trial. Leopold-Loeb Trial & other "trials of the century"; the Aviators (Hughs, Lindbergh, Earhart etc.); 1920s fashion trends; the "Great Migration" and the Harlem Renaissance; "Silent Cal" Coolidge; The "Algonquin Roundtable" aka the "vicious circle"; stunts, crazes and fads of the '20s including the Charleston dance craze; the Florida Real Estate Boom and Crash of the mid 1920s etc. At least one new posting a week, usually more.

Last edited by CaliNative; Jan 8, 2022 at 7:29 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2021, 1:08 PM
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***The Charleston Dance Craze***

There were other popular dances, the "Lindy Hop" (an early "swing" dance that was based on the Charleston style), the "Black Bottom", the tango, the fox trot. But the Charleston dance craze remains one of the most emblematic symbols of the 1920s. Fun, manic, somewhat whacky. Started in mid decade, and continued until the crash. Started in the black community, spread to urban middle and upper class white youth and eventually to many older folks too, at least in the bigger cities. It was "swell"! Here are some fun videos from you tube:

How to dance the Charleston:
Video Link


"Everybody loves the Charleston" in Florence:

Video Link


"It's a Wonderful Life" Charleston contest:
Video Link


OK flappers & sheiks, start dancing! It's the '20s (again)!

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 11:00 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2021, 12:30 PM
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Lindbergh, most famous man in the world in 1927

Hard to imagine talking about the 1920s without a discussion of Charles Lindbergh and the other aviators. Lindbergh was a complex, private fellow. His legacy is also complex. Later the victim of a tragic kidnapping of his son that became a media circus, spokesman for the isolationist "America First" movement, controversial trip to Germany in the late 1930s, etc. In later years an early environmentalist. But in 1927, right after his remarkable non stop solo flight from New York to Paris in a single engine plane, Lindbergh was the most popular and famous man in the world. Before he took off, only a minority thought he would make it, and some in the press called him the "flying fool" on a suicide mission. Many people who lived in the 1920s said that when word arrived that his plane had been sighted over Ireland and he would complete his flight, it was the high point of the decade for them. A huge crowd arrived at the Paris airfield to welcome him. President Coolidge ordered a navy cruiser to bring Lindbergh and his plane back home. His ticker tape parade in New York City drew 5 million people, a record never matched before or since. Only the parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts came close. The optimism after the flight ignited the final sensational phase of the bull market in stocks that lasted until the 1929 crash. The general feeling was America could accomplish anything.

Here is the best documentary on that flight and the man I have seen, and I have seen many and read several biographies. Narrarated by newsman Peter Jennings, with numerous interviews, including with his daughter Reeve and his acclaimed and authoritative biographer Scott Berg. If you know a lot about Lindbergh you will like it. A little, you'll like it too. About 40 minutes. Pull up a chair & enjoy:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 11:08 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 28, 2021, 12:35 AM
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Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly & the Flag Pole Sitters

The 1920s was an era of fads and crazes. We already discussed the Charleston dance craze above, and the stock buying mania. Other fads included cross word puzzles, miniature golf, mah jong and many more. Here is the story of flag pole sitting, rivaling goldfish swallowing for the oddest of all, started by Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly; interesting video about 10 minutes, from "Vintage Files" on youtube:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Apr 3, 2022 at 8:22 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 28, 2021, 1:10 AM
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Charles Ponzi & his Infamous Scam

One of the greatest scams of the 1920s was that of Charles Ponzi of Boston, who promised investors massive returns on money invested. It wasn't a pyramid scheme, but rather a "Robbing from Peter to pay Paul" scheme, based upon using new money to pay off early investors with a large cut for Ponzi himself. The scam was exposed, people lost their money, and Ponzi went to prison. After he got out, Ponzi sold lots in the Florida real estate boom in the mid 1920s, which crashed spectacularly in 1926. From you tube, Patrick Boyle on Finance, about one hour, but well worth watching:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 11:23 AM.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2021, 1:24 PM
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"Sister Aimee"

Aimee Semple McPherson was one of the most famous pentacostal evangelists of the 1920s. Here she is with her son Rolf in 1929, speaking outside her Angeles Temple in L.A. (built in 1923), youtube video, "Mystery Man":

Video Link


Very good and impartial 26 minute biography of Aimee, narrarated by actress Gina Rowlands. Interviews with her daughter and son, and includes 1926 "kidnapping" and subsequent scandal. Aimee was a kind woman, non-judgemental and talented, who welcomed all sinners to her church, including African-Americans, fed the hungry but was also lonely, at times troubled and herself a sinner. The loss of her beloved first husband while they were missionaries in China apparently left a lingering sadness and loneliness underneath her cheerful facade. No less than iconoclast H. L. Mencken recognized the sadness beneath the facade on a visit to Angeles Temple while visiting L.A. in 1926 (more on Mencken later). From youtube:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Mar 17, 2022 at 11:23 PM.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2021, 1:14 PM
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The Battle of "The Bob"

One of the most notable women's social trends was short or "bobbed" hair, worn both for comfort and as a statement of liberation and modernity (women had got the vote in the U.S. in 1920). Short hair on women was uncommon before the 1920s. When required, as in medical war service or certain jobs, women could pin or roll their hair up, but the long tresses were usually still there. The first celebrity to cut or "bob" her hair was the famous dancer Irene Castle in 1915. She did it first for sanitary reasons when she had to have her appendix removed, but later was persuaded to keep the short hair, which became renowned as the "Castle Bob" and started the bobbed craze. After the "Great War", the style became more common (especially after 1920) and was adopted by liberated "flappers" and film stars who ditched their corsets and even girdles, and sometimes bound their chests to get a flatter look, and also wore increasingly shorter skirts (knee length by 1926), and later sometimes even pants (more common in the 1930s). By the mid and late 1920s, even many older women were cutting their hair shorter and skirts shorter (think "Auntie Mame"). Modernism had triumphed. "Bobbie pins" were invented as a way for women to "cheat"--keep their long hair liked by their boyfriends or husbands, but pin it up when they wanted to look more up to date. Here is a good short film on flappers and "The Bob" from Youtube:

Video Link

Last edited by CaliNative; Dec 24, 2021 at 10:44 AM.
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  #20  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2021, 3:13 PM
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I'd put the start of the modern era at 1860's - the US civil war, then the Franco Prussian war. When the fate of nations stopped being in the hands of kings and generals and switched to the modern nation state.

several regimes will miss this change - much to their distress - the Confederates, Prussians, later the Japanese.
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