In the years following the Second World War, there was unparalleled prosperity and growth in America due to the Boom years of the Eisenhower administration. The impact of World War II was not only prolific but also revolutionary and the changes that occurred would affect generations to come. There has always been a focus on the youth of a generation, but this era saw youth culture in the United States of America at the forefront of attention not only of their parents but also the authorities. It is at this time that the term ‘teenager’ is used to acknowledge the generation of youth that were no longer children but not quite adults. This essay will examine how World War II impacted on the youth culture in America through to 1962. It will then examine the various aspects of youth culture in America and correlate the actions of the teenagers to the effects of World War II. Finally, it will examine the fears felt by the parents and authorities that were brought about by the impact of World War II on the youth culture of America.
Prior to the 1950s, America had suffered through the years of World War II, and earlier they had been through years of the Great Depression. During these turbulent years of economic downturn, 1929-1941, the American economy was defined by low employment and low wages.[footnoteRef:1] These years also saw a time of low education as many of the youth did not finish school as they were expected to go out and find work to help support the family. Prior to World War II the adolescents were described as modest, respectful and eager to support their country. Boys were eager to grow up and become celebrated war heroes and girls were just as eager to grow up so that they could work and produce clothes and goods for the serving men overseas. [1: P. Levine, & C. Papasoteriou, America since 1945: the American moment, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 58.]
During the war years there were no fancy clothes or cars, primarily because the factories were converted to be used to produce supplies for the war effort. There was rationing of resources and a lot of money was used for the overseas war effort. The younger generation did not have anything excessive to be indulging in, movie theatres, music, etc. The boys were hyped for the fight and the girls assumed the ‘We Can Do It’ attitude to contribute in any way that they could.[footnoteRef:2] It was during this time that the respectable young generation embraced their responsibilities to family and country. [2: “We Can Do It”, The National Museum of American History, http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_538122 Accessed 20 August 2017.]
In the years following the Second World War, there was unparalleled prosperity and growth in America due to the successful years of the Eisenhower administration. With the creation of well-paying jobs by the administration, the need for younger members of the family to find employment to supplement the family income was...