It wasn’t like on TV”: Image and Reality for Suburban Women in the 1950s

I. Introduction
a. What happened at the end of WWII, that led to the creation of the suburbs
b. Why was living in the suburbs considered desirable?
c. What problems did people encounter in the suburbs?
d. What was women’s lives like in the suburbs, according to the four women interviewed?
II. Building Suburbia
a. Discuss very briefly the GI bill and housing: [You could do a quick search on the internet to find out how much money the government loaned veterans for housing. Was this enough to buy a house, at that time? You should be able to find out]
b. Discuss very briefly the new ways to construct neighborhoods, like Levittown. Did these homes look very differently from each other?
c. Discuss the appearance and layout of suburbs
1. What turned out to be nice about this layout?
2. What turned out to be problematical about this layout? What about commuting to work, for example?
II. Moving to Suburbia
a. What was like for people in the cities, before they moved to the suburbs?
b. Why did people want to move to the suburbs?
c. What sort of people moved to suburbia?
[Note: You should mention here that these suburbs often made it unpleasant, or even impossible, for nonwhites to move to these suburbs. You can look on the internet to find out in what ways it was made difficult or impossible for black people to move to the suburbs. Remember, you can’t just go on and on about this—it isn’t mentioned in the document. This should be no more than a short paragraph.]
III. Living in Suburbia
a. How did moving to suburbia change residents’ lives, compared to living in the cities?
b. Did people who moved to the suburbs have as much contact with their family and friends than they did before the move?
b. How did many suburban families interact? How did they socialize? Did they join new clubs?
i. Over time, did they continue to socialize with the same people? If they left clubs, then why?
c. Mothers in suburbia: Does it seem that many women probably had children and lived in suburbia, according to these documents? [You could do a search on the internet to find out some good facts about the demographics of the percent of women and/or mothers who were married and who lived in the suburbs]
1. According to the interviews, did they do a lot of housework?
i. Give examples
2. Did they spend a lot of time taking care of their children?
i. Give examples
3. Did these women have much time alone, to do things they enjoyed? Why or why not?
i. Give examples of this.
4. How much contact did suburban mothers have with the world outside of their home? Did they feel isolated? Did they see their family and old friends much? Did they seem to enjoy this, from the interviews?
5. What did one or more of these women do to get out of the house?
i. Give examples

d. Men in suburbia
1. From the two documents, what sort of work did husbands do? Where did they work? Does it seem like they worked hard? What was their mood and energy level like when they returned home after their working day?
a. Married Couples in suburbia
1. Did married couples spend much time together?
2. What did married couples do when they spent time together?
a. Give examples
3. Was it an equal relationship?
a. Give examples
IV. Reactions to life in suburbia
a. Does it seem that people who lived in suburbia like it?
i. What were reasons some people liked living in suburbia?
ii. What were reasons some people didn’t like living in suburbia?
iii. Did all of the women interviewed feel the same about living in suburbia?
[V. Reality versus Imagery about 1950s suburban life]
[If you want to take on an additional challenge, you could quite briefly, in about two paragraphs, discuss how suburban life, and the life of mothers in suburbia, was portrayed in most television programs in the 1950s, and the relationship between that idealized image and reality, according to these interviews. Obviously you would have to do some internet research on 1950s TV shows that showed idealized suburban mothers’ lives. However, remember that this contrast is not the focus of your paper.]
VI. Conclusion
a. What was the whole point of creating suburbs?
b. What were good things about them?
c. What were bad things about them?
d. What were some women’s lives like, basing your answer only on these very few women?
e. What were marriages like in the suburbs, basing your answer only on these very few women?
f. Overall, did these specific women like it, dislike it, or have different reactions to living in the suburbs?

post 2022-10-24 08:14:26
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