America - theme 3


Society and culture in change, 1917-80

Between the years 1917 and 1980, women faced many problems in the workplace:

  • they were paid less than white men for doing the exact same job
  • they were less likely to get a job than a white male applicant
  • they were more likely to get fired if jobs needed cutting than a white man
  • they were constantly passed over for promotion in favour of white men
  • they were unlikely to reach the top level of their work environment
  • they were seen as less committed and more unreliable than white men
  • they were not given credit for their intelligence and ideas
  • they were turned down for work or refused promotion on the grounds that they would get pregnant and leave
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How significantly did the position of women change

The First World War opened up jobs for women, although they were paid less than men for doing the same jobs.

Once the war ended, most women were fired and men got their jobs back.

One gain from the war was that Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote under the same rules as men.

In 1920, the League of Women Voters was set up to conduct the equivalent of the civil rights movement's voter registration drives: to encourage women to vote.

Many poorer women didn't vote or voted the way their husbands told them to. Few black women voted.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The 1920s were later called the 'Roaring Twenties' because an economic boom meant that many people were better off than ever before.

However, many people believed women's war work had been an exception for exceptional times, and that women should not take work away from men returning from the war.

Some jobs, such as teaching, were barred to married women and many employers made it a rule not to employ them.

Changing industries had created many more office jobs, such as working in a typing pool, which became accepted as women's work.

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How significantly did the position of women change

A Women's Bureau of Labor was set up in 1920, to improve women's working conditions and campaign for the wider employment of women.

Between 1910 and 1940, the number of working women went up from 7,640,000 (8.3% of the population) to 13,007,000 (9.8% of the population).

Women in the same jobs as men were usually paid less, and they often found themselves in the 'last hired, first fired' situation that black Americans would recognise, but at least they were earning their own living.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Some young women, nicknamed 'flappers', made the most of their independence.


  • worked
  • cut their hair short
  • wore short dresses
  • drove their own cars
  • smoked and drank in public

Some went to speakeasies, that was seen as a place no 'lady' should go alone.

They shifted public perception of women, but they were only a small percentage of the population and adopted more traditional manors when they married.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The Depression affected people across class rather than gender, bringing unemployment, falling wages and rising prices. Well-off people managed best, middle-class people got by and poor people suffered worst.

Women who were widowed, divorced or deserted had to take any work they were offered.

A 1932 Women's Bureau of Labor report on women workers in slaughtering and meat packing found that 97% of them were working as the only wage earner in the family, or to boost the husband's wage, not because they wanted to work.

The Women's Bureau of Labor was largely ignored by the Bureau of Labor because of its focus on women.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The New Deal administration understood that many families were under immense pressure in the 1930s and that the burden of feeding them fell mostly on the women in the family.

The New Deal's aid For Families with Dependent Children provided some benefits for the poorest families, but, as a rule, men came first in the New Deal policies on unemployment and working conditions.

The Civilian Conservation Corps found work for young men aged 17-23. They lived in army-run camps replanting forests and digging reservoirs: about 2.5 million young men were employed.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Eleanor Rosevelt wanted something similar to the CCC for jobless young women.

In 1933, the first camp, Camp Tera, was set up, funded largely by private donations. On 30 April 1934, Eleanor Roosevelt held the White House Conference for unemployed women; after this, camps were federally funded.

By 1936, there were 36 camps, taking about 5,000 women a year, however, they only took women for two or three months and provided no work or wages. Their only training was budget management.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Black Americans benefited less from the New Deal than whites. Black women were edged out of even the worst jobs by desperate whites. Even when she had a job, black women earned less.

For every dollar a white man earned, a white woman earned 61 cents and a black woman earned 23 cents, on average.

One black woman, Fannie Peck, set up a series of Housewives Leagues in Detroit in 1930. These organisations worked to encourage women to shop in black-run stores and to organise local help for those in need. They soon spread to other towns and did help local people on a small scale.

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How significantly did the position of women change

  • Selectve Training and Service Act (1940)

This was set up before the USA went to war, and prepared to draft me into the military and to train women to fill their places, including shipbuilding and aircraft assembly.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Only 16% of married women worked in 1940 because of childcare problems.

  • Lanham Act (1941)

This was a childcare provision act, that was extended for the war: by 1944 there were 130.000 children in daycare.

The percentage of married women in the workforce rose from 15% to 23%.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The Women's Land Army of America, originally formed during WWI, re-formed to provide farm workers countrywide. It held workshops and meetings and had its own publication, The Women's Land Army Newsletter.

Exact numbers are difficult to locate because of issues of illegal migrant labour and also the number of women who took over running the family farm when their husbands went to work; however, the Labor Bureau gave a rough estimate of about 3 million women working in agriculture in June 1943.

The number of black women on nursing courses rose from 1,108 in 1939 to 2,600 in 1945. However, in some places, employers refused to employ black women, saying they were bound to have, and spread sexual diseases. Some employees were equally difficult: in one Detroit rubber plant, white women workers refused to share toilets with black women.

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How significantly did the position of women change

After a dip immediately after the war, the female employment rate rose again, particularly for married women 45-54 years old. This was a significant change and very different from the situation after the First World War. 

The percentage of married women in this age group in the workforce rose from 10.1 in 1940 to 22.2 in 1950.

Before the war, married women were barred from many jobs: these restrictions were lifted during the war and rarely reinstated after it, so a wider range of jobs was open to women.

In 1936, 82% of people thought married women should not work; in 1938, it was 78%; in 1942, it was only 13%. The percentage rose fairly steadily after the war, to 38% in 1978.

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How significantly did the position of women change

However, while more women, married and single, worked after the war, they were still paid lower wages than men for the same work. This might have been a factor in employers choosing to employ them post-war.

Their work remained mainly clerical, domestic or shop work. A small proportion of women, usually white, moved from clerical work in offices into the main businesses of that office, such as insurance or advertising.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Suburbs sprang up in a post-war economic and building boom that made homes more affordable. Suburbs were in commuting distance of the cities. Because they tended to be built with similar-sized houses and plots, they were usually socially segregated.

Black Americans lived very similar lives to white women in white suburbs, only in black suburbs, although some low-cost black suburbs grew up within reach of very expensive white suburbs - to provide a convenient pool of mains, cooks, nannies, gardeners and other staff.

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How significantly did the position of women change

In the 1950s, suburbs grew rapidly: in 1960, 19 million more people lived in suburbs than in 1950. Many suburbs had schools, leisure facilities and shops.

The pattern of suburban life was similar across class and race. Usually, the wage-earner husband went out to work while his wife stayed at home, looking after the house and the children. If both parents worked, childcare was needed, which made suburban living more expensive.

Suburbs created their own social networks and social life. If women worked, they were often excluded from the friendship groups of those who did not. However, housewives could be excluded too, if they did not conform either to the demands of the group of to those of the development: some developments did not allow fences and even had rules about cutting the grass and babies' nap time.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The suburbs created a subset of women with too much time on their hands, especially if they had once worked. But this life was portrayed on billboards, in magazines and on television as the lifestyle to aspire to, the American Dream of any American woman of any race.

Suburban living also had an impact on women who didn't live in the suburbs. First, all the advertising made the suburbs something to aspire to for someone who didn't live there. Secondly, as people left the inner cities for the suburbs, those who remained were, largely, those who couldn't afford to move out.

Non-white ghettos grew, caused by and fostering racism. The education and job opportunities available to girls and women who lived in these areas meant that they were going to have to be exceptional, and work exceptionally hard, to change their situation.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The suburbs had a very little impact on those living and working in rural communities, until they developed large out-of-town shopping centres (malls), which then became a focal point for many rural housewives, providing a greater variety of goods at a better price than local stores.

The first shopping mall was built in 1954 in the Detroit suburbs. From 1917 to 1980, women who lived and worked on farms were cut off, physically by distance and also economically, from many of the changes and opportunities that urban women were more able to seize.

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How significantly did the position of women change

In 1961, President Kennedy, influenced by Eleanor Roosevelt, set up a Commission of Enquiry on the Status of Women. In 1963, it published its results, praising the Equal Pay Act and the wider job opportunities for women in federal government, following a presidential directive of 1960.

However, the Commission found that the Equal Pay Act was badly needed and needed enforcing. Women accounted for one in three workers but were discriminated against in access to training, work and promotions. Their wages were uniformly lower and minimum wage regulations did not apply to the low-paid work that many women did, for example, hotel work and domestic work. The report also said that non-white women were in a worse position than whites because of racial discrimination.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The 1963 report noted that, from infancy, girls were not encouraged to think about careers. Parents, even those who could afford it, seldom encouraged their daughters into higher education. 

  • Education Act (1958)

This said schools should have job counsellors to work with students. There were too few counsellors - only about 12,000 for all state schools in the USA, very few in low-income areas. Few counsellors were trained, their advice was described as patchy and even dangerous, especially not in considering the abilities and needs of the girls they counselled.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act included sexuality equality, as well as racial equality, in its provisions. Women, like all non-white Americans, soon found there was a wide gap between the passing of a law and its enforcement.

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How significantly did the position of women change

In 1963, Betty Friedan, a psychologist and journalist, published a booked called The Feminine Mystique about the constraints of suburban life and the problems of white, educated, married women.

Friedan's book got many women thinking about women's rights, and their own lives, in a new way. The controversy it provoked ensured it was widely read and argued about, including on television.

This spurred some women, especially educated, middle-class, white women, to organise themselves and work more actively for women's rights.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The first and biggest national movement was the National Organisation for Women (NOW), set up on 30 June 1966. Friedan was one of its founder members. 

The national organisations aimed to work within the political system to get equality and better enforcement of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act.

Since 1923, Congress had regularly been asked to pass an Equal Rights Act (ERA). Congress had failed to do this, and women's groups wanted to put pressure on Congress to change its mind. They held meetings, collected pensions and data, demonstrated and lobbied politicians for change.

They saw themselves as needing to work steadily for change; while they hoped it would come sooner, rather than later, their work was educating people and campaigning about the problems and providing services and support for working women.

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How significantly did the position of women change

Thee was a second strand to the women's liberation movement. Its members were predominantly under 30, white, middle-class and college educated. Some had jobs, but often working at a lower level than meant they went to college with, even if they had better qualifications.

Many worked with black American civil rights groups, or with radical groups such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) or Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

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How significantly did the position of women change

Both strands of the movement wanted the same things:

  • women to have equal rights, opportunities and pay
  • women to have the right to decide about their own bodies
  • to be able to use contraception, married or not
  • to choose to have an abortion
  • to choose whom to have sex with

In 1970, almost every feminist group, including NOW and much smaller groups such as the National Coalition of American Nuns, participated in a strike of women on 26 August 1970, the 50th anniversary of women getting the vote. Some women just didn't go to work, while many more took part in countrywide marches and demonstrations, with slogans like 'Don't Iron While the Strike Is Hot'.

They all presented three demands: equal opportunity in jobs and education; free childcare, community controlled; free abortion on demand.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The strike got a lot of publicity for the movement and membership of NOW rose by over 50%, from 1,000 in 1967 to 40,000 in 1974.

Unfortunately, the radical groups drew the most publicity because they were easier for men to dismiss and make fun of than the NOW campaigners.

The women's liberation attracted a lot of opposition, especially among men, even radicals. Some radical women's groups declared that all men were the enemy. Conservatives of all kinds rejected the movement, stressing even more strongly the 'un-Americanness' of its demands and the abandonment of traditional roles.

Some didn't mind the equal rights arm of women's liberation but objected to the calls for free contraception and abortion. Others, such as Phyllis Schlafly, objected to demands for an Equal Rights Act and set up a group called STOP ERA, 'STOP' standing for 'Stop Taking Our Privileges'.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The movement did make some gains on too of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act. In 1967, President Johnson extended his executive order calling for affirmative action to improve employment conditions for those discriminated against on the grounds of race, creed or colour to cover sexual discrimination as well. The order only covered federal employees or businesses working for the federal government, however.

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled on the Eisenstadt vs Baird case, allowing access to contraception to unmarried as well as married women.

Abortion was federally legalised on 22 January 1973, by a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Roe vs Wade, although there were rules about the timing and the health of the mother.

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How significantly did the position of women change

On 22 March 1972, the Equal Rights Act was finally passed as an amendment to the Constitution by Congress. All it needed was ratification by 38 of the 50 states; Congress set a deadline of 1982, ten years, for the ratification. 15 states were still refusing to ratify ERA in 1982, meaning there still wasn't an Equal Rights Act.

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How significantly did the position of women change

The USA did not sign up to the 1979 United Nations policy of introducing non-discrimination against women in all aspects of life. It was still very difficult to enforce legislation and employers became much more practised at finding 'acceptable' reasoning to discriminate against women in the workplace.

The women's liberation movement disintegrated, partly because of the conservative opposition it faced and the growing conservatism of the country, but also because it fragmented. All women did not need, or want, the same things and, although the broad aims of the groups were similar, the local issues they took a stand on varied.

The fact that so many of them were middle-class white women mean they didn't seem to represent women as a whole either; many working-class and non-white women felt excluded. They set up their own campaign groups, such as the Congress of Labor Union Women, the Mexican American Women's Organisation, and the National Alliance of Black Feminists.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Before the First World War, the USA had an 'open door' policy to immigration. There had only been three Acts to restrict the types of immigrants allowed into the country, from the disabled to anyone who was Chinese (1882), and no restrictions were placed on yearly numbers of immigrants or where they came from. Traditionally, the USA welcomed immigrants.

For roughly 100 years after the nation broke away from British rule, an average of 170,000 immigrants every year entered the USA, which saw itself as the welcoming land of the free.

Then the numbers of immigrants rose sharply, from just under 650,000 in 1882 to 1.2 million in 1907. These immigrants came increasingly from southern and eastern Europe rather than northern Europe; this rose to 81% in 1907.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

The Dillingham Commission investigated the impact of immigration on the USA from 1907 and made its report in 1911. The report said immigration was beginning to pose a serious threat to American society and culture. It distinguished between the 'old' immigrants from England, Ireland and Germany.

The Commission's findings made no concession for the shorter span of the time the new immigrants had to adapt. Despite this, the findings were used to justify Immigration Acts in the 1920s, including the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which set limits on the number of immigrants.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

The immigration legislation of the 1920s was set off by a variety of factors:

  • post-war isolationism
  • Dillingham report
  • Red Scare 1919-1920
  • Spike in unemployment

The years immediately after the war had people in a swirl of hostility to anarchists, black people, Catholics, communists, immigrants - anyone who posed a threat to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) and their values.

The government tried to control the rising hysteria with immigration laws and deportation: thousands of people were deported during the Red Scare.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

In 1910, 1.2% of the US urban population was black; by 1920, this was 4.1%. At the same time, the percentage of those who were foreign-born or with foreign-born parents went from 74% to 85%.

The focus of 1920s legislation was on immigration from Europe and Asia. The quota system didn't apply to South America. In the late 1930s, a combination of the Great Depression and immigration restrictions slowed European immigration to a trickle, far less than the quotas set.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Immigration from South America, especially Mexico, increased rapidly in the later 1920s to fill the need for cheap labour in states such as California and Texas, in agriculture, mining and railroad building.

Some of these immigrants were 'official' immigrants, registered with the Bureau of Immigration. Others crossed the border illegally. The demand for workers meant that employers didn't ask too many questions.

The status of the illegal immigrants meant that employers could exploit their fears of deportation, paying them very little and giving them terrible living and working conditions.

Once the Depression hit, officials began to deport Mexican workers to make space for white people who had lost their jobs an migrated to California.

An estimated 400,000 Mexicans were deported during the Depression.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

In the 1920s, cities in the USA were growing for a variety of reasons. The industry was expanding and needed workers. Immigrants were a significant factor in their growth - but not in all towns and cities. Immigrants, especially those who could speak little English, had a tendency to gravitate to towns and cities that already had immigrants from their place of origin - sometimes family of friends, but often just people with a language connection.

New York, as the city most immigrants reached first, landing at Ellis Island, always had a large immigration population, but other cities did too. The top cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, St Louis and Boston.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

The USA is often referred to as a 'melting pot' because of the various immigrant nationalities living there. 

Reverend Jesse Jackson put it more accurately when he described it as a soup with the chopped ingredients visible as separate bits: all in the same soup, but not all the same. US towns and cities were rather much like that soup.

Many cities and towns were nicknamed 'little Italy', constantly topping up with new incomers. These areas kept the Italian language, many Italian customs ad a strongly Catholic religious life.

There were also many 'Chinatowns', although immigration from China had been banned since 1882.

In 1914, there were about 1,300 foreign-language newspapers published in the USA; by the 1960s, there were just 75.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

The three largest groups in Boston's 1920 foreign population were 24% Irish, 17% Canadian, 16% Italian, whereas in New York it was 24% Russian, 19% Italian and 10% Irish.

By 1920, there were examples of Irish politicians, lawyers and policemen in Boston, and Italian ones in New York.

Immigrants had a large influence in politics, in local, state and federal. Their votes could change an election result.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Once the USA entered the war, Americans of Italian, German and Japanese nationality were classed as enemy aliens. Japanese were treated most harshly because they had bombed the US fleet at Pearl Harbor.

About 120,000 Japanese were shut up in internment camps. Their property was confiscated and they could only take what they could carry with them. Fewer than 1% of Germans and Italians were interned. However, they had to obey many restrictions - no matter who they were.

As the war progressed, attitudes to the 'enemy' immigrant population worsened, even if families had lived for several generations in the USA and saw themselves as American.

Some businesses owned by people with Italian or German-sounding names had their windows broken or found that customers decided to shop somewhere else.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

At the same time, young men who were technically enemy aliens volunteered for the US military. They served in separate units and were sent to Europe, not against Japan.

After the Second World War, the government passed the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, which still used quotas. Many people thought that the quota system had outlived its usefulness. One of the problems was that it did not allow for refugees. So, as the Cold War set in, and the USA wanted to help refugees from communism, it had to pass a new refugee law each time.

From 1953 onwards, a variety of 'refugee Acts' allowed a set number of refugees into the USA outside of the quota. The government also had difficulty in coping with large numbers of refugees, as when Fidel Castro seized power in 1959. Over 200,000 Cubans fled to the USA, so they set up a Cuban Refugee Program to deal with the numbers.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

President Kennedy was a firm opponent of the quota system and pressed Congress to make changes even before he became president. In 1958, he wrote a book called A Nation of Immigrants, outlining how - from the first Europeans to land in 1607 - the USA had been a nation of wave after wave of immigrants. He said that immigrants should be seen as enriching the country, rather than being viewed with suspicion.

When he was assassinated, he was working on a new immigration law which would abolish quotas and had published a new edition of his book to coincide with this. President Johnson brought the bill to Congress after Kennedy's death and it became a law in 1965.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

In the first 5 years after the 1965 Act, immigrants from Asia, especially Vietnam and Cambodia, quadrupled.

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the USA took in 130,000 Vietnamese refugees. As communism spread, the USA passed additional refugee legislation to take more refugees in - by 1985, there were over 700,000 of them. This changed the ethnic make-up of many US cities.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Immigration laws didn't apply to people from the western hemisphere, especially Mexico, although in 1954 the Immigration and Naturalisation Service began to try to control immigration by deporting illegal immigrants from Southern and Western states in what became known as 'Operation *******'.

The number of Hispanic immigrants and their families in the country, both working in agriculture in the South and West of the country and also moving to the cities because a matter of serious concern for the government.

The introduction of a 20,000 limit on entry into the USA in 1976 put measures in place to slow immigration, however, that didn't stop people from coming. People who had long been used to no numerical limits still wanted to join their families and to find work, so they crossed the border secretly and became 'illegals'.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

The largest number of illegals came from Mexico, averaging over 60,000 a year in the 1970s. Most went to California and Texas, working in agriculture or in factories. In the 1970s, there were about 645,000 jobs created in Los Angeles County; about one-third of those jobs were taken by Mexicans.

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) along the border did its best to stop illegal immigration, but the border measures 3,169 km and, even with guards and electrified fences, it was impossible to stop smugglers sneaking illegals in the USA. In 1980, about 1 million illegal aliens were found, arrested and deported.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Policing the border and tracking down illegals was expensive and the issue became more public in political debates over the cost. This, in turn, meant people were more likely to feel that illegal immigrants were a significant problem.

The INS in the mid-1970s estimated there were about 7 million illegal immigrants in the USA; they were finding and deporting about 600,000 a year.

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How much was society affected by immigration?

Republican, conservative government were more likely to want to restrict immigration and control immigrants. Liberal politicians, such as Kennedy, were keener to accept and adapt to immigrants and their varying cultures.

By 1980, attitudes had shifted towards a desire to control immigration, both legal and illegal. It was a swing back towards what some analysts called 'nativism': a form of the isolationism of the 1920s.

In 1980, in response to housing and job shortages in Cuba, the Cuban government gave people permission to leave from the port of Mariel. The government sent a boatful of refugees to nearby Florida and many others left on hired ships. 14 people died on one boat that capsized. The arrival of these refugees, for many Americans, was the last straw.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

After the war, movies boomed, especially during the 1920s. Movie theatres gave the public an entire evening out.

In the 1930s, most changed their 'feature' movie at least twice a week. There was a B-movie, a short cartoon or travelogue, trailers and a  newsreel. Some theatres threw in popcorn and ice cream too By 1941, there were nearly 10,500,000 movie theatre seats, one seat for every 12.5 people.

Movies were reviewed in magazines and there were magazines devoted to the lives of Hollywood stars. In the late 1930s, there were about 20 fan magazines, each with a circulation of 200,000 to 1 million readers.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

In the 1930s and 40s, about 90% of all films worldwide were made in Hollywood. There were 8 companies that worked together and had almost total control of stars, staff and the industry as a whole.

The cheapest movies, B-movies, had a budget of $50,000-$100,000. They had no stars and made up about half of the major studio's output during and immediately after the Depression.

Shirley Temple was earning $5,000 a week in the 1930s when the average wage was $2,000 a year.

MGM made a $500,000 deal with Coca-Cola so that its stars would drink it during breaks.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

By 1929, almost 50% of homes had a gramophone and the industry that made records to play on them was booming; $75 million-worth of records were sold in that year.

However, by 1935, sales had dropped alarmingly. Radio sales had taken off, and radios could play music for free.

The first commercial radio station, KDKA, began broadcasting on 2 November 1920. It was presidential Election Day and radio broadcast the results before the newspapers could print them. By 1924, there were 600 commercial stations. They needed money, however, and so began selling advertisements in between their regular broadcasts.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

Television was sponsored, just as radio was. Its advertisements and programmes created a 'national culture' even more than radio did. Early programmes showed very few black Americans.

Political parties quickly saw they could use television too and brought 'air' time for their politicians. Eisenhower used it in his 1952 campaign and Kennedy consciously exploited it.

In 1953, 80% of television was recorded live; by 1960, it was 36%. By the 1970s, news and sport were practically the only programmes recorded live.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

The 1967 Public Broadcasting Act (PBA) set up the government-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which set up the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1969.

The PBS' biggest success was a children's programme called Sesame Street, which taught kids about topics such as racial tolerance and sharing, as well as counting.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

More serious documentaries began to be made in the 1960s, following the huge audience for the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates in 1960. This meant people were more informed about major issues. People who didn't buy newspapers were happy to watch programmes about real issues.

In the 1970s, however, real life began to seep into entertainment. For example, M*A*S*H was a drama series set in the Korean War, which actually considered issues that were very relevant in the war in Vietnam. This was deliberate on behalf of the programme-makers.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

Some series started that reflected black family life. They were comedy shows, so they were just as unrepresentative as were comedy shows of white American life. However, they showed black families in their own home, leading normal lives, instead of being portrayed as criminals or servants.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

Political satire became more popular. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (1968-73) was one of the first sketches shows openly to make fun of, and criticise, politicians. It drew on aspects of the counter-culture and many of its punchlines were fed into everyday language. It reached more people than newspapers and radio did.

On 20 October 1953, Ed Murrow broadcast a story on CBS' 1951 See It Now series, which was on the Red Scare about a young airman losing his job because of possible family communist sympathies. On 9 March 1954, Murrow did a whole show on McCarthy and how he was a liar and a bully, which shifted the public opinion of McCarthy.

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What impact did pop culture and media have?

Through the 1960s, there was live news coverage of events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Moon Landing. While radio was still covering the news, many people preferred television news, because of the advantage of pictures. Even politicians who were part of the Cuban Missile Crisis were glued to their screens as ships from the USSR came close to the 'line' of the line where the US Navy would destroy them.

The media was powerful in the sense it could make or break a presidency. This was the case for Jimmy Carter's presidency, as at the beginning he was popular. However, he lost popularity when he collapsed at a marathon in October 1979. People didn't want a weak president, mentally or physically.

There was also the situation where 52 US diplomats and citizens were held captive for 444 days at the US embassy in Tehran. Carter's inability to deal with it lost him the re-election to Ronald Reagan.

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