The Era

In 1919, America emerged newly prosperous from the devastation of World War I and plunged into a decade of heady consumption and social change. Cars, radios, and telephones proliferated, industry grew, and young women embraced new freedoms. Yet by the time Fitzgerald penned his epitaph for the era, the country had collapsed into a severe economic depression, which would last until its entrance into World War II. The period in between was one of great contrasts: cultural expression and social progress were tempered by conservative backlash, a deepening wealth divide, and racial oppression. While the Wormsers’ affluence may have shielded them from some of the era’s turbulence, they would have encountered its cultural and technological changes at every turn—in trans-Atlantic travels on steamships, palatial cinemas, and in the modern bedroom they commissioned for their home.

A dark blue bowl with light blue markings depicting various elements from the era's style.
The New Yorker (Jazz) Bowl, circa 1930, Cowan Pottery Studio (American, Ohio, Rocky River, 1912-1931), manufacturer, Viktor Schreckengost (American, 1906-2008), designer, glazed ceramic with sgraffito design, Cleveland Museum of Art; John L. Severance Fund, 2000.65. Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
  • Changing Roles for Women

    From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, women’s opportunities for education and employment expanded steadily though unequally.

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  • City Life

    By 1920, more Americans lived in cities than rural areas for the first time in history.

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  • The Jazz Age

    After World War I, a new musical form developed by Black musicians in New Orleans erupted in popularity across the country.

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  • The Machine Age

    Much as people today are aware of the internet shaping their daily lives, Americans in the 1920s and ‘30s noted the strong influence of machines on society.

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  • The Great Depression

    The American stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, plunging the U.S. and most of the Western world into a deep economic depression.

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