back to previous

Counterculture Timeline: The Later War Years 1933-1953

CRISIS: Great Depression and World War II 1929-1945 continues
Date   Context   Counterculture Events   The Arts   The Period
1933   worst? year of Great Depression

Hitler - German Chancellor; book-burning, concentration camps,
boycott of Jews

March 3 - FDR inaguration; start of FDR's hundred days of legislation:
3/9 Emergency Banking (-> FDIC);
3/16 Agriculture Adjustment (farm support);
3/27 Farm Credit Administration;
3/29 Securities Act (requires more information provided to investors)
3/31 Civilian Conservation Corps,
Federal Emergency Relief Administration; 4/10 TVA;
4/13 Home Owners Loan Corporation (low interest mortgages - to stem farm foreclosures);
4/19 - US goes off gold standard;
5/17 National Industrial Recovery Act establishes Public Works Administration (PWA)

  Dorothy Day & others start Catholic Worker newspaper, New York City; House of Hospitality opened "soon after"

1933-1942 Alan Lomax records Leadbelly, Jelly Roll Morton, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, many other folk & jazz musicians

1933-1934 Trade Union Unity League organizes massive strikes among Mexican field workers in California's San Joaquin and Imperials Valleys

Dust Bowl: Oklahoma, western Kansas, northern Texas have been experiencing drought since 1931; many farmers are forced to leave; in October, In California's San Joaquin Valley, where many farmers fleeing the plains have gone, seeking migrant farm work, the largest agricultural strike in America's history begins. More than 18,000 cotton workers with the Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU) went on strike for 24 days. In the settlement, the union was recognized by growers, and workers were given a 25 percent raise. 

  Depression curtails record sales & releases

Radio: first Long Ranger, radio station WXYZ [Utne #76 p 60]

Mae West: "She Done Him Wrong"

C.G. Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Ralph Borsodi: Flight From The City - advocated subsistence farming, but using machinery to eliminate drugery, and reintroduce crafts
George Orwell: Down and Out in Paris and London
Gertrude Stein: The Autobio-graphy of Alice B. Toklas
Dec 6 - James Joyce's Ulysses finally declared legal
and publishable in U.S.

Kandinsky and Klee leave Germany for France & Switzerland respectively;
60,00 other artists (authors, actors, painters, musicians) leave Germany 1933-39

William Gaines invented comic books (he was rummaging through old newspaper comic strips and realized you could re-use them in book form)


1930s early - Hollywood Production Code drives sex off the screen (after?)

1930s Negro lynchings average fifty a year

1930s US births
drop to the lowest ever since industrialization
(only 7.3% increase in
population of US 1930 to 1940, including .5 mill immigrants)

1930s Paris: Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli

1930s Chicago bluesman Tommy Dorsey switches to religious music, but hangs on to some blues feeling in his new compositions, later called gospel music.

1934   January 1 - US: Prohibition ended

US Federal Farm Mortgage Corp; Civil Works Emergency Relief Act;
FDR's Emergency Relief Appropriation Acts;
Federal Housing Authority (FHA) (powers to insures long-term mortgage loans by private lenders for home construction)


May 9 - San Francisco longshoremen strike - 12,000 members
end of May - joined by all seafaring unions - 40,000 members
June - hundreds of ships sitting unloaded in SF
July 5 - shipowners try to unload cargo; Harry Bridges (1901-1990) and union call a General Strike; July 16-19 150,000 workers stayed home, no street cars ran, groceries closed.

+ General Strike Minneapolis

fall - Southern textile workers strike spreads throughout U.S.

Upton Sinclair runs for governor for California promoting EPIC [worker co-ops]

  Lindy Hop takes to the air with swing music

Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer published (?in Paris)
(by Jack Kahane, Obelisk Press) but banned in the U.S.

Jean Cocteau: La Machine infernale - important?

Censorship in Hollywood movies starts

G.I. generation (Hero)
born 1901-1924
continues to turn 20
1935   April - Resettlement Administration given power to use eminent
domain to buy land for build new cities

Wagner Act sets up National Labor Relations Board

U.S. Social Security Act; Wealth Tax Act

US Neutrality Act

First aloha shirt stitched up by tailor Musu-Shiya in Honolulu

Cheeseburger invented at Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In, Denver


March 19 Harlem uprising

Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) organized by John L. Lewis

Wilderness Society founded

ca 1934 - Kenneth Rexroth moves to San Francisco from Chicago, where he had run a jazz-and-poetry tearoom called the Green Mask, which featured a whorehouse on the floor above. After moving west, he published a mimeo union sheet "The Waterfront Worker", was active with the League of Struggle for Negro Rights and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, served soup to young Catholics held in detention camps as World War II conscientious objectors. He loved jazz and knew the musicians, translated poetry and drama from ancient Gree, Provençal and Japanese and read the Encyclopedia Brittanica cover to cover each year.

Billie Holiday
Allen Watts

turn 20 - G.I. Generation Hero

  January 5 - "Waiting for Lefty", Clifford Odets's play about a union meeting of taxi drivers, at the Group Theater, New York, brings an audience to its feet to roar "Strike!"

William `Count' Basie introduces Kansas City music at the Apollo Theatre in NYC: Jazz becomes `swing': easy,
uncluttered, rhythmically flexible

Rumba is popular

The Village Vanguard opened by Max Gordon in a cellar at 178 Seventh Ave, New York as a jazz center

US number of farmers peaks at 6.8 million,
declines steadily ever since [Utne #38 p 48]
1936   Boulder/Hoover Dam completed, sends first power to Los Angeles

July 18 - SPANISH CIVIL WAR starts

(Keynes - which is his important work?)

Oct 1 - FDR on campaign train reads aloud telegram from Secretary of Treasury: first full year without a national bank failure in 55 years
  48 sit-down strikes, beginning with Akron Firestone plant, Flint Fisher Body plant

Earl Robinson sets Alfred Hayes' lyric "Joe Hill" to music for a camp-fire program at Camp Unity

June 27 FDR speech: "Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine Justice weighs the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
  August - Benny Goodman debuts at the Palomar Ballroom, New York: swing music really takes off

"Professor Longhair" invents rock & roll beat one night, while playing in New Orleans' Vieux Carre

Chaplin: Modern Times

London & New York Surrealist shows, including "Object", a fur-covered cup/plate & spoon by Meret Oppenheim.
Salvador Dali: Soft Construct-ion with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War.
Mondrian: "Composition in Red and Blue".

Kenneth Patchen: first book (of poetry) published (Before the Brave)

1936-37 Robert Johnson, legendary blues musician (Mississippi) records 29 original songs in a San Antonio hotel and a Dallas office building.

1937   Bonneville Dam & Golden Gate Bridge opened


Japanese start skirmishes which lead to war with China

First jet engine built

UK: BBC starts offering regular television programming
to 14,000 initial subscribers

  US: 477 sit-down strikes; gov. statistics: half million Americans involved in sitdown strikes bet September 1936-May 1937

US Supreme Court rules in favor of minimum wage law for women

1930s late - Village Vanguard: Leonard Bernstein, Burl Ives, Pearl Bailey +

April - first members of the 3,200 US Abraham Lincoln Brigade set off for Spain to join 45,000 from all over the world who volunteer to fight with the Spanish Republicans; most Brigade members are18 - 24; 600 of them die in one battle at Brunette in July 1937

JFKennedy turns 20 - G.I. generation (Hero)
  Robert Johnson dies (25) (poisoned by a jealous husband)

Sartre (31): La Nausee /Nausea (introduces Existentialism)
Richard Wright: Black Boy

Picasso: "Guernica" (mural for Paris World Expo)

John Wayne stars in Stagecoach, first western shot in Utah's Monument Valley

Aldous Huxley moves from England to southern California

Tolkien (45): The Hobbit

  Artists influenced by existentialism: John Updike, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, J. D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, Saul Bellow, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Bernard Malamud, J. P. Donleavy, Terry Southern, John Osborne, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, William Borroughs, Jean Genet

March 14 - Hitler invades Austria

Nov. 10 Kristalnacht pogrom

Recession in US (starts with Wall Street decline in 1937)

20,000 television sets in service in NY City
  Congress passes Fair Labor Standards Act, national child labor law - first to be upheld by the Supreme Court (?=?) Forty hour work week established in US

US Supreme Court rules University of Missouri Law School must admit Negroes because of lack of other facilities in the area

Ingmar Bergman turns 20 - G.I. generation (Hero)
  Benny Goodman's band brings new style of jazz: Big Band Jazz (heyday 1938, 1939)

Lambeth Walk - fashionable dance

"Spirituals to Swing" - John Hammond produces famous concerts at Carnegie Hall, bring fame to many Negro jazz, blues, and gospel artists

Jean Paul Sartre: Nausea [must be the Eng translation]

Antonin Artaud: The Theater and Its Double

Radio production by Orson Welles of H.G. Wells'
War of the Worlds causes panic

International Exhibit of Surrealism, Paris

1939   March 14 - Hitler invades Czechoslovakia

March 29 - Spanish Loyalists surrender

April 30 "First scheduled telecast" (US: FDR speaking at New York World's Fair opening) but within months, television development stopped for 7 years due to the war

July - FDR asks to revise Neutrality Act so US can sell arms to England and France; Congress refuses

August - Stalin-Hitler non-agression Pact

September 1 -
Hitler invades Poland

September 3 -
Britain and France declare war on Germany:

November - Soviet Union invades Finland

Pan American Airways begins regularly scheduled commercial
flights between US and Europe

  April 9 (Easter Sunday) - Marion Anderson, barred from singing at the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall, Washington DC, is invited by Eleanor Roosevelt and others to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; 75,000 attend

Pete Seeger (20) drops out of Harvard, entertains striking dairy farmers, meets Alan Lomax (24) and Woody Guthrie (27)

November 5 - Paul Robeson (29) sings "Ballad for America" on national radio (composer Earl Robinson)

Pete Seeger
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
J.D. Salinger
turn 20 - G.I. generation (Hero)

  Cafe Society opened December 1938 at 2 Sheridan Square, New York by Barney Josephson as first integrated night spot; Billy Holiday (24) opened it and remained nine months

movies: Wizard of Oz,
Gone With the Wind, Gunga Din, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? / Joan Crawford, Bette Davis

James Joyce: FInnegans Wake

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Henry Miller: Tropic of Capri-corn, & The Cosmological Eye

Nathanael West: The Day of the Locust (about Hollywood)

Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (first LA crime novel)

Yves Tanguy to US

Two young Stanford grads start Hewlett-Packard in a garage in Palo Alto

- - The generation that grew up during World War I & the Jazz Age, reaches their 20s to fight and die in World War II - -


Hitler invades Denmark, Norway, Holland (May), Belgium, France

US: Smith Act criminalizes advocating to overthrow the government by force and violence

First U.S. inter-city motorway: Pennsylvania Turnpike

December - LA opens first motorway: Arroyo Seco Parkway (now part of Pasadena Freeway), starting 30 years of intense freeway building

  Bertrand Russell (68) judged unfit to teach at New York's City College due to such unorthodox views as those published in his Marriage & Morals (1929); appointed to William James lectureship at Harvard University anyway

Pete Seeger forms Almanac Singers with Lee Hays and many others; Woody Guthrie joins in June

Sept 27 - FDR meets with A. Philip Randolph, president of Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Walter White, executive secretary NAACP; and T. Arnold Hill, acting secretary of the National Urban League to discuss employment discrimination, particularly desegregation of the armed forces. Army: 5,000 Negroes out of 269,023; Navy: 4,000 out of 160,997 - employed as messboys and labourers.
November - FDR re-elected, in first election with significant Negro voters

Charlie "Bird" Parker
Federico Fellini
turn 20 - G. I. generation Hero

  Duke Ellington becomes known as composer and jazz pianist

Cotton Club closes

Chaplin: "The Great Dictator"

Ernest Hemingway (41): For Whom the Bell Tolls

Arthur Koestler: Darkness at Noon [published in German]

Thomas Wolfe: You Can't Go Home Again (posth.)

Eugene O'Neill: Long Day's Journey into Night" written - important?

Salvador Dali to NY

Gene Autry's Melody Ranch premieres on radio

US population
1940: 132 million (Starts to rise 1940-1943)

First big birth rise: 9 months after introduction of Selective Service bill
Start of the

Sept? Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 passed
(first US conscription when not at war)

when? US Supreme Court upholds Federal Wage and Hour Law restricting
work of 16- and 18-year-olds and setting minimum wage for business engaged in interstate commerce

June - Hitler invades USSR

Dec 7 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor: US enters WORLD WAR II

when? Manhattan Project (intensive atomic research) begins


June 25 - A. Philip Randolph's (president Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) calls off Negro march on Washington planned for July 1 when FDR agrees to issue Executive Order 8802 banning racial discrimination in defense industries and government employment (creates Fair Employment Practices Committee)
[see Parting the Waters : America in the King Years 1954-63 -- by Taylor Branch]

[record] Talking Union and Other Union Songs (Almanac Singers including Pete Seeger)

Jeannette Rankin, US Representative, casts sole dissenting vote in Congress against declaration of war against Japan


1940-42 Thelonius Monk (23) joins Kenny Clarke's house band
at Minton's in NYC; with Charlie `Bird' Parker (20) (sax), of Kansas City, and Dizzy Gillespie (23) (horn), who dropped in after finishing at the Cotton Club [but closed 1940??], invents Modern Jazz: created complex variations on chords to scare away no-talent jammers. Meanwhile, Kenny Clarke (26), the drummer, starts created the bop rhythm which freed the soloists. "Bop" was unlike the polished, sweet sounds of the Big Bands.

Orson Welles: "Citizen Kane"

Eric Fromm: Escape From Freedom

Kenneth Patchen: Journal of Albion Moonlight

Henry Miller: The Colossus of Maroussi

Max Ernst to NY (then to Long Island & Sedona, Arizona)

  June?? Second big birth rise: 9 months after Selective Service Act passed

June - Japanese lose battle for the first time: Midway Island

First electronic computer developed, US (ENIAC)

Magnetic recording tape invented

Navajo US Marines "code talkers" sent to Guadalcanal
  Gilbert Murray founds Oxfam

J. I. Rodale starts Organic Gardening magazine

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) founded within the Fellowship of Reconciliation

Dec. 31, 1942 - singer Frank Sinatra's career took off when he opened at the Paramount Theater in New York, greeted by "bobbysoxers" screaming, "jitterbugged" in the aisles, and "swooning, crowded the stage door shrieking for his autograph, and spilled over into Times Square, snarling traffic to such a degree that a riot squad had to be called. It is said that the swooning first started at the Paramount when a teenage girl, who had stood outside the theater and seen seven shows without food, slumped over in her seat. After that, others began dropping in the aisles.

Jack Kerouac turns 20 - G.I. generation Hero

Bop/Jump & Jive dance, contests

Bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup records the first blues song

Duchamp back to New York
International Surrealist Exhibit, New York, including the first `Happening': Duchamp's maze of twine (to involve the viewer);
Peggy Guggenheim opens Art of This Century Gallery (Surrealism);
Surrealists Breton?, Masson, Man Ray, Kurt Seligman, and Matta from Chile, plus Chagall, Fernand Leger, Piet Mondrian, and Jacques Lipchitz are all in U.S.


Camus: L'Etranger [The Stranger/The Outsider]

Erich Fromm: The Fear of Freedom (is this the same?)

Wilhelm Reich: The Function of the Orgasm

Saul Bellow writing "Dangling Man"

Skirts shorten (wartime rationing)

  October - Third big birth rise (10 months after Pearl Harbor)

Infantile paralysis epidemic kills almost 1200 in US, cripples thousands more

Roy Rogers named "King of the Cowboys"
  April 19 - Dr. Albert Hofman at Sandoz in Basle, Switzerland, resynthesizes LSD-25 in a search for a cure for migraines, & has visions (first synthesis 1938)

June - Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) founded

Summer - anti-Negro riots in Detroit and Harlem, cities whose labor population has been added to by influx of southern Negros

when? US War Labor Board orders coal mines to be taken over by the government when .5 million miners strike

when? 43,000 draftees refused to fight, 6000 imprisoned; Conscientious objector camps established on West Coast, especially Walport, Oregon; many visit San Francisco on leave

"Bop" becoming known;
Rhythm & blues syncopated rhythm starts to emerge.
Lindy Hop yields to jitterbug

March 31 - "Oklahoma" musical opens on Broadway

Sartre: Being and Nothingness

Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game

Zoot suit becomes popular attire among US hepcats

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)


Cost of living in US rises almost 30%

Nov - FDR re-elected for fourth term

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. elected to Congress

July 15 - Mrs. Irene Morgan arrested for not giving up Greyhound seat to white passenger on a ride from Virginia to Maryland (leads to 1946 Supreme Court anti-segregation decision)

Jack Kerouac (22), Allen Ginsberg (18), William Borroughs (30) meet around Columbia University

Marlon Brando turns 20 - G.I. generation Hero (last)

  Bop recordings on the market.

Bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup records "Rock Me Mama" ?using? the first electrified guitar, created by him in 1940

Sartre's No Exit opens in Paris

T.S. Eliot: Four Quartets

  1944-1949 Negro bandleader Louis Jordan sends 19 songs onto the pop charts, including "Choo Choo Ch'boogie" and "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens"
April - Allied forces attack Berlin; Hitler commits suicide
May 7 - Germany surrenders

July 16 First atomic bomb explosion, Alamogordo, New Mexico
Aug 6&9 Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Sept 2 Surrender of Japan; WORLD WAR II ends

September 2 - Republic of Vietnam proclaimed by Ho Chi Minh; September 12 - French execute a coup and take over control

United Nations founded

World Bank founded

Diptheria vaccine
  "Existentialists" center, St. Germain-des-Pres, Paris (1945-50)

Lenny Bruce
Gore Vidal
turn 20 - Silent generation Artist (start)

  Henry Miller: The Airconditioned Nightmare

George Orwell: Animal Farm

"Surrealism was completely stunned by Hitler, a madman beyond Dali's wildest dreams; after the war the movement lost its bearings - subsequent consumer society and the creation of a TV monoculture dissolving the last barriers between fantasy and reality is a Surrealist domain in its purest form."

  2,873,000 babies born

World War Ii killed 15,843,000: USSR 6,750,000; China 1,310,000; Japan 1,862,000; USA 407,000

Silent generation (Artist)
born 1925-1942
turns 20

- - The generation that grew up during the Depression and World War II reaches their 20s,
and are plunged into the paranoia of The Cold War / Atomic Age - -

1946   May 21 - Four miles from Los Alamos Laboratory, New Mexico, 8 scientists doing a test on a plutonium bomb receive lethal doses of radiation; one died

June - First of 23 nuclear explosions 1946-1958, Bikini atoll

July 4 - bathing suit introduced in Paris dubbed the "bikini"

Start of the boom in sales of television sets (under 6000 manufactured). There are 10,000 television sets in the US, 7000 of them in New York City.

Xerography process invented

ENIAC electronic brain built at Pennsylvania University


Wartime price controls lifted -> inflation (15% in 6 months, food 28%); meanwhile corporate net profits at all time high, 1/5 above the best war year

4,985 strikes in the US, the largest number in any one year except for 1919; involve 4.6 million workers; reasons included the expiration of wartime contracts containing "no-strike" pledges, the slow reconversion of wartime industries, very slow re-employment of 12 million returning GIs

Union membership is 15 million, up from 3.4 million in 1930

July 27 - Paris: Gertrude Stein dies at 72

"Existentialists" center, St. Germain-des-Pres, Paris (1945-50)

Pacifica Foundation founded by Lewis Hill

Kerouac and Ginsberg meet Neal Cassady in New York City.

Lynchings in the southern US approach 1918 levels as Negro G.I.s return, talk of getting the rights they fought for


Josh White playing at Cafe Society Downtown (Sheridan Square, Greenwich Village) and Leadbelly around NY also

Pete Seeger moves to NY after getting out of the military, starts "People's Songs" folk music magazine; costs covered by throwing hootenannies, first in New York City lofts, than at concert halls - performers included Seeger, Guthrie, Leadbelly, Josh White, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Earl Robinson, Harry Belafonte (publication lasts to 1949)

Lenny Bruce starts doing stand-up comedy in New York.

Buckminster Fuller designs Dymaxion House

Krishnamurti, with Aldous Huxley, and others, founds secondary school "Happy Valley" in Ojai


3.5 million babies born (19% more than 1945)

First year
of the
Baby Boom

1946-1950 - 20 million babies born

June Dr. Benjamin Spock: The Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care

"Race" records have begun to creep from Billboard's "Top Juke Box Race Hits" to its "Pop Singles Chart".
In the race hits is Lionel Hampton's "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop" (be-bop million seller)

August - Norma Jean becomes Marilyn Monroe when she signs up with 20th Century Fox


CIA chartered

April 16 - Bernard Baruch coins the term "Cold War"

May 9 - World Bank makes its first loan

June 5, 1947-1951 - Marshall Plan: US farms and industries gear up to feed Europe

June 6 - Taft-Hartley Act restricts union activities

July 5 - "Flying saucers" sightings reported in US

September - Over 1 million veterans enroll in colleges under GI Bill of Rights

Largest automobile production since 1929

Transistor invented

British grant India independence


April 9-23 - Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsors interstate bus ride to test June 3, 1946 Supreme Court ruling that Negro passengers could not be forced to sit at the back; Bayard Rustin, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Igal Roodenko, and Joseph Felmet serve 30 days on a chain gang

October 22 - HUAC opens investigations into Communists in Hollywood

December 4 - Hollywood Ten who refused to tell HUAC if they were Communists are indicted for contempt of Congress (= blacklisted)

Leon, brother of Barney Josephson, owner of Cafe Society, NYC, subpoened by HUAC; Columnists Westbrook Pegler & Walter Winchell attack Barney & club business drops; forced to close 1948

"Existentialists" center, St. Germain-des-Pres, Paris (1945-50)

1947-50 Kerouac & Cassady make cross-country trips

  Malabar Farm: Louis Bromfield

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Jackson Pollock starts action painting (Abstract Expressionism) [when? William De Kooning, Franz Kline]

Dior's ankle-length dresses protested, ?but went back to long?

March - Richard Penniman (20), in trouble because of homosexual involvements in Macon, leaves home and joins Dr. Hudson's Medicine Show, grows a pompadour and begins calling himself "Little Richard"

Due to HUAC, in 1947, 28% of films deal with social problems; in 1949, 18%; in 1954, 8%

UFO (?) crashes near Roswell, New Mexico


3.75 million babies born (12% jump)

1947-57 series of Chicago riots as whites left inner city to Negroes = start of "white flight"


January 30 - Mahatma Gandhi assassinated

June - Drs. John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, & William P. Schockley of AT&T announce invention of the semiconductor transistor

when? UN? adopts "Human Rights ?Resolution" - US never adopted

when? USSR stops road and rail traffic between Berlin and the west
?= start of the Cold War?

when? Truman signs Selective Service Act, creating US's first peacetime draft, and universal military training (includes ROTC)

when? US sends troops to Greece to support dictator

when? General Somoza's military take-over of elected Nicaraguan government (with US support?)

when? Tito of Yugoslavia breaks away from USSR Communist Party

Huh? Federal rent control bill passed in US

1947-51 Marshall Plan

1948-49 Chinese Revolution


Feb - Truman, in first `civil rights' message to Congress, asks for anti-lynching law

1948-50 - House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) investigates Alger Hiss (of State Dept) case

when? Month-long strike by soft coal miners, US; injunction prevents nationwide rail strike; first escalator clause basing wage increases on cost-of-living inde in GM-UAW contract

when? Supreme Court knockdown of Texas white primary; 750,000 Negroes register to vote in 12 southern states
1948 Nov Truman re-elected (vs. Dewey)

Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman & Ronnie Gilbert, singing in the Almanac Singers since the early 1940s, form The Weavers (sign with Decca Records1949-1952)

Summer: Allen Ginsberg (22) has mystical vision of Blake's flower +

Malcolm Little, in prison, first hears about the teachings of Elijah Muhammed

"Existentialists" center, St. Germain-des-Pres, Paris (1945-50)

1947-50 Kerouac & Cassady make cross-country trips

Allen Ginsberg moves to Greenwich Village

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (2003):
"Vesuvio had been started in 1948 by Henri Lenoir, who was Swiss. He was an old bohemian who always wore a beret. According to him, he made his living selling silk stockings to the ladies in the old burlesque houses down along Pacific Street, which were closed in the early '50s. He started to work hanging paintings at the Iron Pot, which was an old bar across from where the Transamerica Pyramid is now. At the time, that was the Montgomery Block.
"The Monkey Block was the most famous literary building in the West. It was torn down without any protest in the early '50s. George Sterling lived there, and Ambrose Bierce. Then Lenoir started 12 Adler Place, which is where Specs is now. He lived over City Lights. He had these little rooms. He wouldn't tell us who the owner of the building was. We were subletting from him. It was built by a French family in 1907. And we used to pay the rent to a family in southern France. And the descendants of the same family still owned the building when we were able to buy it a couple of years ago."


33 1/3 long-playing record invented (US) (replacing 78s); March - first 45 rpm records

Nat King Cole's record of eden ahbez's song "Nature Boy" is a big hit; Cole ushers in "cool" jazz (Newsweek - April 26 p.84; Time - May 3 p. 46; Life - May 10 p. 131)

July - Oriole's first record & the first "r&r", tho called r&b
"It's Too Soon to Know" starts playing on Negro music radio stations

TV: November 5 - Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuts;
Ed Sullivan television show starts

Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica)

Mechanization Takes Command - Siegfried Giedion

B.F. Skinner: Walden Two

George Orwell writes 1984 (originally titled 1948)

Alfred Kinsey: Sexual Behavior of the Human Male

Norman Mailer: The Naked and the Dead

Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis

Lee Strasberg becomes Artistic Director of the Actors
Studio, starts giving classes in the Stanislavsky "method"

"after lp record introduced" Tom Lehrer (20), student at Harvard (entered at 15) records & markets (by himself) an album of satirifical songs; over the next 6 years, goes into many printings

  1948-1953: more babies born than the previous 30 years

Levitts begin construction of first mass-produced suburb: Levittown, Long Island

Richard and Maurice McDonald open first McDonalds drive-in, San Bernardino, California

Feb - Memphis Negro radio station WDIA begins broadcasting; Elvis Presley (13, in sixth grade) hears his first "race" records

Riley King (23) returns to Memphis after a year back home in Indianola, working as a tractor driver on a plantation; harmonica wizard Sonny Boy Williamson gives him gig at the 16th Street Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas. To keep the job, King had to have a radio show to promote his performances. He obtained a show on Memphis station WDIA, where he played guitar, sang, spun records, and acquired the nickname Blues Boy, subsequently shortened to B.B. King

John Lee Hooker first recording "Boogie Chillen" - ose to number one on the Billboard R&B chart in 1949.

1949   Jan 20 - "underdeveloped" term coined by Truman [Utne #53 p 137]

11 US Communists found guilty of conspiracy to overthrow government

March 25 - University of California announces that all faculty and employees must sign an anti-Communist and a constitutional loyalty oath

August 24 - NATO formed

U.S. begins urban renewal with Housing Act

October 1 - People's Republic of China founded

USSR tests its first atomic bomb

Hanford, Washington - reactor releases 200 times more radiation into the environment than was released by later Three Mile Island - kept secret until spring 1986

1947-1951 Marshall Plan

Bomb shelters become available


Pacifica Foundation (founded 1946) starts first
radio station, KPFA in Berkeley (April 15 - first show)

Weavers at Village Vanguard 6 months:
New York discovers folk - Josh White, Burl Ives, Earl Robinson "discovered"

"Existentialists" center, St. Germain-des-Pres, Paris (1945-50)

1947-50 Kerouac & Cassady make cross-country trips

Simone de Beauvoir: Le Deuxième Sexe (French publication)

  Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool album starts cool jazz

Samba is popular

TV: Hopalong Cassidy

South Pacific on Broadway

Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac

Thomas Merton: The Seven Storey Mountain

Nelson Algren: The Man with the Golden Arm

T.S. Eliot: The Cocktail Party

Joseph Campbell: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman

June - Billboard changes the name of its "hillbilly" chart to "country and western" and the "race" records chart to "rhythm and blues".

1949-1954 Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Little Richard: first records

Marlon Brando noticed as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan.

Allen Ginsberg meets William Carlos Williams and discovers the "natural voice" in poetry.

  End of Golden Age of Radio (1925-1950) - why??

Warner Brothers releases first Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons

First UNICEF Christmas cards

John Lee Hooker records "Crawlin Kingsnake" which became another hit.


Start of military budget:
12 billion out of total
40 billion U.S.budget

when? Truman instructs US Atomic Energy Comm to develop hydrogen bomb

June 25 - North Korea invades South Korea;
June 27 - U.S. sends troops to Korea

when? US recognizes Vietnam, supplies arms and send mission to
instruct their use, signs military assistance pact
summer Rosenbergs charged with espionage and prosecuted

Oct - China occupies Tibet

Oct - First aliens arrested under McCarran Act, which restricts and requires registery of Communists,
forbids entry into US of aliens who have belonged to totalitarian organizations

1947-51 Marshall Plan: US farms and industries help Europe

Miltown comes into wide use in US as tranquilizer


Jan 21 - Alger Hiss convicted of spying for USSR

Feb 3 - Klaus Fuchs, Los Alamos employee, arrested for sharing atomic secrets with Russia

Feb 9 - Senator Joseph McCarthy announces he has a list of 205 State Department employees who are Communist Party members

June - "Sing Out" folk magazine launched by Seeger; Weavers sell out Town Hall concerts (Dec); Seeger creates Hootenanny record label

Bertrand Russell awarded Nobel Peace Prize for Literature

April - Kerouac writes first version of On The Road
(?through 1951?)

July - Julius Rosenberg arrested

UN: 480 of the 800 million world's children undernourished

How St. Germain was ended [explain] xx

1950s-1960s Anarcho-pacifist poets group meets almost weekly at home of Kenneth Rexroth - San Francisco [250 Scott St/Page, over Jack's Record Cellar in the Haight/Fillmore]: Philip Whalen, Helen Adams, James Broughton

Artists Club meets every Friday evening in Greenwich Village: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne, Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Theodoros Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brook, Mark Rothko


"Cool jazz" develops from bebop

New Orleans's Fats Waller makes first record "The Fat Man", becomes #1 R&B hit;
Johnny Otis with Little Esther;
Good Night, Irene - big hit (Weavers)

Muddy Waters, Mississippi field hand turned Chicago truck driver, releases "Rollin' Stone"

1.5 million television sets - US
TV: You Bet Your Life

Asphalt Jungle (John Huston)
All About Eve (Bette Davis)
Akira Kurosawa: Rashomon

Nelson Algren: The Man with the Golden Arm (anti-hero)

Erik Erikson: Childhood & Society

Einstein: General Field Theory

L. Ron Hubbard wrutes Dianetics; the modern science of mental health, a handbook of dianetic therapy

Enrico Banducci: "I opened the hungry i in 1950. We started out at 149 Columbus, now [Francis Ford] Coppola's building. In 1952, I hired Mort Sahl, who did political jokes."


"baby boom in every industrialized country"
- Hall)

1950s early: car ownership, level thru 1930s and WWII, starts rise
above late 1920s level

"after World War II": new housing / construction starts - rise above late 1920s level

1950 Lakewood housing development, near Long Beach, California starts the Western US's housing boom

1950 which country? becomes second (after US) with mass car ownership
(Germany?? - Volkswagon)



Korean War (first war seen on television)

President Truman starts college draft deferment

Electric power produced from atomic energy.

Army begins detonating nuclear bombs in Nevada desert. By winter, radioactivity detected in Rochester, New York snowfall.

Suburbs starting to spread

1947-51 Marshall Plan: US farms and industries help Europe


June - Cleveland d.j. Alan Freed ("Moondog") notices white teenagers starting to respond to r&b, starts first r&b radio show

Oct 14 - 11 Irish musicians meet in Dublin to form the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, start of the modern Irish folk music revival --->1951: first Flea Cheoil - Mullingar (Whit week-end)

?W.E.B. DuBois hauled manacled into federal court for advocating peace talks in Korea

Ferlinghetti leaves New York for San Francisco

Weavers blacklisted by HUAC

Leadbelly dies

Michael Harrington moves into Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in Greenwich Village for two years, spending evenings at The White Horse Tavern, famous for the poets and writers who drank there, including Dylan Thomas, Delmore Schwartz, Norman Mailer, William Styron and Dan Wakefield. Young Democratic Party operative Daniel Patrick Moynihan was another regular.

(Ramblin') Jack Elliott starts hanging out with Woody Guthrie

November 5, 1951 cover story of Time magazine refers to the generation coming of age as
"withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent."


The Dominoes' "Sixty Minute Man" at top of R&B chart, crosses over to pop chart

d.j. Alan Freed ("Moondog") begins broadcasting "Moondog Rock and Roll Party on Cleveland's WJW

Color television first introduced (US) -->15 million television sets in US, huge jump from 1950.

Sept - First transcontinental television broadcast
Oct 15 - TV: I Love Lucy

Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (the movie)
African Queen, Strangers On A Train
September - Look magazine cover story on Marilyn Monroe

J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye is an "instant success"
among college students
David Riesman: The Lonely Crowd (ck - also saw as 1950)
[Storming Heaven p.95: "other-directed" -> conformity]
C. Wright Mills: White Collar
John Clellon Holmes: Go (later called the first Beat generation novel)
Rachel Carson: The Sea Around Us
(> environmentalism)

  Marilyn Monroe named "Miss Cheesecake of the Year" by US troops in Germany.

John Lee Hooker's recording label releases "I'm in the Mood" and it became his biggest hit.

Mayan Sacred Calendar: Planetary Underworld: Heaven 11: Day 6: Flowering - 1952 - 1972


Korean War (on television)

Polio epidemic - 58,000 cases (1400 die, thousands in wheelchairs or steel braces)

April 22 - First open-to-the-media atmospheric bomb test - Yucca Flat, Nevada

Sept 23- Nixon's "Checkers" speech on TV (about how his kids love their dog)
More than 58 million Americans, largest audience to date, watch

Nov 4 - Eisenhower elected over Stevenson (ending 20 years of Democratic presidencies)

November 6 - First hydrogen bomb exploded on Eniwetok Atoll by US = Thermonuclear bomb [also saw as Nov 1]

First Holiday Inn motor hotel (Memphis, Tennessee)

Standardization of McDonalds design


May - CORE holds first sit-ins in US history

when? Charlie Chaplin's US visa revoked

Weavers give up, stop touring; Pete Seeger begins touring college campuses

First contraceptive pill produced

Albert Schweitzer awarded Nobel Peace Prize

L. Ron Hubbard founds Scientology

George Jorgenson goes to Denmark for the first sex change operation, becomes Christine G.

Dylan Thomas electrifies the Beats on a visit through San Francisco

John Clellon Holmes: "This is the Beat Generation" NYT (Nov 16) - get this xx

By 1952, 534 Negroes lynched in Mississippi (also 40 Caucasions) - Mississippi led the nation in lynchings; November - Tuskegee Institute reports that for the first time in 71 years, there were no lynchings of blacks in the US in 1952.

  "If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and feel, I could make a million dollars" - Sam Phillips (he begins the Sun label)

Johnny Ray's "Cry" #1 on both R&B and pop charts

April - Bill Haley's cover of "Rock the Joint" comes out

Chuck Berry (26) starts playing around East St. Louis ("first singer songwriter" he claims)

Modern Jazz Quartet founded and popularizes cool jazz

April - Life magazine cover story on Marilyn Monroe (25)

TV: Dragnet, Ozzie and Harriet
TV Guide
Swanson introduces TV dinners

Fellini: The White Sheik
Humphrey Bogart wins Oscar for African Queen
Brigitte Bardot (18) first film: Le trou normand (& marries Roger Vadim)

James Baldwin: Go Tell It on the Mountain
Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison
Nikos Kazantzakes [accent]: Zorba the Greek
Samuel Becket: Waiting for Godot


Charles Steen discovers uranium near Moab, Utah, setting off uranium rush

Wet suit invented by UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner

        Ferlinghetti: "I came directly to San Francisco from Paris in January 1951. I came here expecting it to be as it was in the days of William Saroyan. Peter Martin had a little magazine here called City Lights, which was an early pop culture magazine - it only lasted about five issues. It published things like Pauline Kael's first movie criticism. Pete's idea was to start a pocket bookstore and pay the rent for the magazine, which was on the second floor. It was a genius idea because publishers had just started publishing quality paperbacks. Up till then there were only murder mysteries and science fiction, 25-cent, 35- cent pasted-together pocket books. I had a painting studio at 9 Mission St., Mission and the Embarcadero, in the Audiffred Building. I was coming from the painting studio. I was living on Chestnut Street, but instead of going around the Embarcadero, I came up Columbus and saw this guy putting up a sign about a bookshop. And for some reason I parked across the street and told Peter who I was. And he said, "Oh, you sent me translations of Jacques Prevert." I said, "What are doing putting up that sign?" He said, "I'm starting a pocket bookshop, but I only have $500." So I said, "Well, I have $500." It started with a handshake. There was no paperwork." (City Lights Books, founded June 1953)


  US ends Korean War
(dead: 1 million Koreans, 30-40,000 US)

U.S. consumers start buying binge, biggest since the 1920s. Stock market soars.

March 6 -Stalin dies, Khrushchev becomes First Secretary

March - Twenty nuclear tests have occurred in Nevada; sheep dying in Utah, 7 year old boy dies of leukemia in Carson City

April 13 - MK-ULTRA, drug investigation program, started by CIA

April 16 - President Eisenhower warns of guns vs. butter

April 25 - "Simon" bomb detonated in Nevada; April 27 - fallout detected in Troy, New York (more)

Aug 13 - Shah of Iran reinstated to power, Mossedagh removed; Shah agrees to allow international oil companies to sell Iranian oil

August - USSR explodes hydrogen bomb


May 4 - Aldous Huxley (58) takes mescaline

June 19 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed

summer - Baton Rouge bus boycott by Negroes (lasts two weeks)

Sept - Hefner (27) starts Playboy; November issue features Marilyn Monroe

Oct 9 -
Dylan Thomas dies in New York City

I.F. Stone starts The Weekly (to 1971)

Pacifica Foundation starts second station: KPFK in Los Angeles

June - Ferlinghetti opens City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco

Allen Ginsberg (27) visits Neal Cassady in San Francisco & stays

John Lilly invents sense isolation tank and starts experiments with it at the National Institute of Mental Health (to 1958)

Lung cancer reported attributable to cigarette smoking

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." - Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

President Eisenhower speech to American Society of Newspaper Editors
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
   This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
   It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
   This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
   This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."


Television production at 7 million/year
TV: Danny Thomas

Fellini: I Vitelloni (The Young & The Passionate)
Salt of the Earth (movie about New Mexico's Mexican-American miners strike of 1951) produced by blacklisted Hollywood filmmakerrs
Marlon Brando (29) in The Wild One
Marilyn Monroe (27) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
From Here To Eternity

July 5 - Elvis Presley (18) pays to record "That's All Right [Mama]" (by Arthur (Big Boy) Crudup) & "Good Rockin Tonight" at Sun records studio

Big Mama Thornton from Houston records "Hound Dog" (which she helped write)

B.F. Skinner: Science and Human Behavior
Alfred C. Kinsey: Sexual Behavior of the Human Female
James Baldwin: Go Tell It on the Mountain
Arthur Miller: The Crucible (explain xx)
Saul Bellow: The Adventures of Augie March (& writing "Seize the Day")
Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex - translation into English
Arthur Clarke: Childhood's End

Bermuda shorts

Maya Angelous discovered at The Purple Onion, 140 Columbus in San Francisco's North Beach.

Phyllis Diller, The Smothers Brothers, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Lenny Bruce, Maya Angelou, Richard Pryor, Barbra Streisand and Mort Sahl all cut their teeth on the Purple Onion stage.

Lenny Bruce and The Kingston Trio also played at the Purple Onion in the 1950’s and 1960’s. when did it open?

On to Civil Rights Battles 1954-1959