Youth Emerging During the 1950's


  • Automobiles showed how teens could escape their controlling parents
    • James Dean riding around on a motorcycle, showed his anti-heroic authority.
      • Greased hair, leather jacket - later referred to as "Greasers".
  • Novels showing how teens "acted" (strives to act like) during this time
    • "Cather in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger.
      • Portrayed Holden Caulfield on an adventure to New York. Experiencing different situations
        • smoking, drinking, Prostitution, swearing, getting kicked out of school, etc.
    • "Mad Magazine" edited by Harvey Kurtzman and published by William Gaines
      • It made fun of American teen situations; such as, the cold war, nuclear family, and consumer society.


  • After WWII Late 1940's - early 1950's
    • Reflected the time - slow, easy to listen to. Ex. Frank Sinatra
  • Referred to as Rock N' Roll
    • Electric blend of rhythm and blues with the electric beats of urban corners
    • Introduced by Allan Freed for African Americans to have a type of music in a white America
    • Elvis Presley
      • "King of Rock N' Roll"
      • Frowned upon because of his "sex appeal"
      • He would wiggle his hips, had black greased hair, and wore flashy clothes
    • Teens enjoyed the Rock N' Roll, music they could relate to w/ their lyrics


  • During WWII
    • Certain materials were rationed, straining the fashion
    • Normal clothes would reflect military uniforms b/c of shorted supplies
  • 1950's
    • Guys would represent what they saw in the movies, leather jackets, and greased hair
    • Girls would wear dresses
    • Guys would wear their letter men jackets
    • Girls would have their hair pulled back
    • Formed fitting clothing also became popular


  • Late 1930's - Early 1940's
    • Portrayed teen life with their family and how they would all live happily together
    • They were also family movies where a teen would be portrayed as a hero, and that would be the movie's main point
  • 1950's
    • Portrayed the teen's new roles in society, rebellion
    • The new heroes of the movies were bring out the "bad" in guy teens. Making them more edgy.
    • Girls would be drawn to the mysteriousness of these new actors, and their good looks
    • Hollywood realized this is a time of change, teens had money to spend. Made movies w/ teen actors, but adult actors as minors, and addressed the youth


  • Stations for black music listeners or white music interests
  • Teens would listen to the white artists who would sing songs written and performed by black artists.
  • Parents didn't like the fact their kids listened to Rock N' Roll songs that promoted sex, alcohol, and drugs.
    • They tried stopping the radio
    • Picketed in front of radio stations
  • Over time, music started becoming acceptable, and radios started to become famous.

Primary Sources

Board of Education, Buffalo, New York

  1. Dress shirt and tie or conservative sport shirt and tie with suit jacket, jacket, sport coat, or sweater
  2. Standard trousers or khakis; clean and neatly pressed
  3. Shoes, clean and polished; white bucks acceptable
Not Recommended:
  1. Dungarees or soiled, unpressed khakis
  2. T-shirts, sweat shirts
  3. Extreme style of shoes, including hobnail or "motorcycle boots"
  1. Shirt and tie or sport shirt and tie
  2. Sport shirt with sweater or jacket
  3. Standard trousers or khakis; clean and neatly pressed
  4. Shoes, clean and polished; white bucks acceptable
Not Recommended:
  1. Dungarees or soiled, unpressed khakis
  2. T-shirts, sweat shirts
  3. Extreme styles of shoes, including hobnail or "motorcycle boots"
Note: The apparel recommended for boys should be worn in standard fashion with shirts tucked in and buttoned, and ties tied at the neck. Standard of dress for boys, while in school shops or laboratories, should be determined by the school.
  1. Blouses, sweaters, blouse and sweater, jacket with blouse or sweater
  2. Skirts, jumpers, suits or conservative dresses
  3. Shoes appropriate to the rest of the costume
Not Recommended:
  1. V-neck sweaters without blouse
  2. Bermuda shorts, kilts, party-type dresses, slacks of any kind
  3. Ornate jewelry
  4. T-shirts, sweat shirts

This is a dress code for a high school is Buffalo, New York. The dress codes limits students from wearing apparel that was "not acceptable." However, the dress code is very strict, the things that are banded are acceptable today. This just proves that authorities over the new developed teenagers were not acceptable. The adults at this time didn't like the changes and rebellion the youth of this era were going through. The older people didn't want the kids to get into different experiments they were going through;for example, their new choices in clothing. Dress codes were created to stop the kids from dressing very conservative, and if they did they would have been punished.

Presley, Elvis
Presley, Elvis

In this picture, it portrays Elvis Presley. During the 1950's he was known as the "King of Rock N' Roll." Many teenagers looked up to him. The guys wanted to be just like him, and the girls would melt over his good looks, and soothing voice. Kids would attend his concert, even without their parents permission. Elvis was an idol to teenagers all over the world at this time. He was such a big influence movie companies even wanted him to be in movies of theirs. In all, he appeared in 31 films. Teenagers around the world kept his fame alive. His music later became acceptable to all age groups, when the teenagers eventually turned into adults.

Works Cited Page