Facts:
  1. Groups of college students gathered in nightclubs and coffee shops to read the works of Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. These meetings were monumental, considering that their ideas ignited anger in the hearts of the older generations and were now being shared openly in great numbers. They railed against conservatism, social order, and racism while promoting sexuality, recreational drug use, and diversity. Their views challenged the 1950's "American Dream" and restored urban culture at a time when suburbia seemed to be taking over the country. Most of all, the "beatniks" formed the basis for the hippies and other counterculture movements of the 1960's.
  2. From 1954 to 1965, at least 4 million babies were born in America every year. Roughly four out of every 10 Americans were under the age of twenty, so it was only natural for such a large generation to search for a sense of identity. The baby boomers didn't grow up during World War II or the Great Depression like their parents did; instead, their generation's main challenges were entirely domestic. They focused on rebelling and expressing themselves in whatever way they could, whether it was through fashion, music, sex, etc. Often from shear numbers, the baby boomers established themselves in society and the term "teenager" was born.
  3. Dr. Benjamin Spock's The Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare (1946) was a bestseller for decades, essentially shaping Cold War-era parenting. Feeling threatened by communism, Americans wondered how to instill democracy in their babies from a young age and give them an upbringing that was consistent with that belief. Spock argued for a progressive approach, viewing children as "naturally reasonable and friendly individuals whose sensibilities should be nurtured for what they were" (Kativa). As a result, baby boomers grew up with more priveleges than their parents had ever had, including access to automobiles, better healthcare, and new forms of entertainment. This feeling of entitlement ultimately fed their unprecedented resilience in the generational struggles to come. Critics of Spock claim that his book was a direct cause of the 60's youth rebellion.
  4. In response to space advances made by the Soviets, schools experimented with alternative educational practices like "new math." People were convinced that U.S. students had fallen behind their Soviet counterparts; as a result, more emphasis was placed on science and technology than other subjects. "New math" focused on gaining a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts, rather than teaching how solve problems. This method was extremely controversial and, ironically, students' creativity was sacrificed when the goal was to "nurture future leaders" (Reef). Eventually, "new math" took much of the blame for the drop in SAT scores after 1963, the year baby boomers started to graduate from high school.
  5. Alan Freed, a Cleveland disc jockey, was the first man to use the term "rock and roll roll" in 1954, and his radio station was one of the first ones in the country to play music by both white and black artists. Rock and roll grew on the backs of African-American performs like Bill Haley and Little Richard, but it was white singers like Elvis Presley who became popular by mimicking the sounds of their black contemporaries. That being said, black music gained a whole new audience in America's suburban teenagers as rock and roll became the soundtrack to their lives. The genre was perhaps the defining voice of their generation, and it helped unite people of all colors and backgrounds. When Freed crossed the race barrier, he essentially began rock and roll's development from apolitical entertainment to a powerful social weapon.

Primary Sources
Teenagers_Do_the_Twist.jpg
Teenagers Do the Twist (1962)

Dances like the "twist" were a unique aspect of teenage culture. They allowed the youth to become directly involved in their favorite rock and roll songs, and they felt good about having something that was truly their own. Whenever adults started to pick up on a dance and did it for themselves, it would be abandoned by the youth in favor of something brand new. Most importantly, though, rock and roll brought white and black teens together in celebration of a new genre that they all loved.

Dress Code for High School Students in New York (1956)

In response to the rise in juvenile delinquency, the Board of Education in Buffalo, New York issued this dress code to enforce conformity amongst their students.They were expected to dress conservatively at all times in clean, matching outfits; t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, v-neck sweaters, "party dresses", and even unpressed khakis were not allowed. There was a precise destinction between what was acceptable for boys and what was acceptable for girls; clearly, schools in the 1950's were intent
on encouraging traditional gender roles. Rules like these, however, seemed to inspire even more rebellious feelings in suburban teens across the country.

Conclusion
Baby boomers generally gew up in quiet, often boring, suburbs that were a world away from the upbringing their parents received and the international conflicts going on around the globe at the same time. These children were innocent, privileged, and carefree, dubbed by many as the "Silent Generation." All that changed in the blink of an eye as they grew up and developed an unprecedented social awareness. A new term was born, "teenagers", and with it came an entirely new culture. Teens craved a way to be unique and to change what society valued and accepted. With so many rules in place, they felt trapped in an artificial, materialistic America. Films and music started to change in response to their angst, and the outrage from adults only made them more rebellious. Teens started to drink, smoke, and have sex, all of which were considered vulgar and horrifying at the time. The "Beat Generation" had been born, and it was this feeling of identity that inspired so many more counterculture movements to come.

Works Cited
Board of Education, Buffalo, New York. "Dress Code for High School Students in New York." American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=E14091&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

Escovar, Matthew. "rock and roll." In Winkler, Allan M., Charlene Mires, and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Postwar United States, 1946 to 1968, Revised Edition (Volume IX). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHIX215&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

Goldberg, David E. "teenagers, post–World War II." In Winkler, Allan M., Charlene Mires, and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Postwar United States, 1946 to 1968, Revised Edition (Volume IX). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHrIX260&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

Kativa, Hillary S. "childhood, post–World War II." In Winkler, Allan M., Charlene Mires, and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Postwar United States, 1946 to 1968, Revised Edition (Volume IX). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHrIX043&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

Reef, Catherine. "childhood in the United States, 1946–1970." Childhood in America, Eyewitness History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. American History Online, Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EHCA0125&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

"Teenagers Do the Twist." Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=AHI1049&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).

Vary, Adam B. "Beat movement." In Winkler, Allan M., Charlene Mires, and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Postwar United States, 1946 to 1968, Revised Edition (Volume IX). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHIX026&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 15, 2011).