Family Life in 1920s America

How was family life in 1920s like for wealthy Americans?



The 1920s ushered a dawn of change. The Great War ended in 1918, and the United States of America became the new superpower. The country’s wealth increased tremendously, sweeping the Americans into a society dominated by consumerism. When before the majority of the population dwelled in farms and countryside, this new era steered them to big cities like New York and Chicago. The changes did not only take place in the social and political aspects. Family life, the very foundation of society, was also altered.

As a period of innovations and inventions, the 1920s marked a significant change to the life of the wealthy American families. Automobiles, phones, dryers, refrigerators, among many others were available to those who can afford. The rich had more disposable income to lavish on a wide array of consumer goods. People from coast-to-coast had access to the same products, from clothing to radio.

Family life in the 1920s had a different dynamics from its predecessor. The fathers must deal with the pressure of providing for the family. They were breadwinners, and to do that, they must spend a lot of time away from home to tend to businesses and other means of income. The advent of cars made it easier for them to travel to work.

The mothers were still the light of the home. But they did have ample freedom compared to the women before them. For one, they got the right to vote. They were also allowed to work on white-collar jobs like stenography. In wealthy families, they managed the households and organized parties. Shopping for both the household and personal needs had never been that easy. Department stores got everything they need.

Children were provided for by their father. Most of them went to school, as opposed to the past where they were almost always sent to work.

The marriage life in the 1920s, however, still retained most of its dynamics. This was especially true when it came to wealthy families. The father had the last say in many matters, except in running the households, which was pretty much the domain of the wife. Fathers dictated and molded the future of their children. It was not uncommon to find children being groomed to inherit the business empires, especially when it comes to sons. Daughters were expected to marry from their own class, mostly chosen by their fathers who wished to expand family businesses. Family connections worked well in this regard.

When we look back, family life in the 1920s greatly differs from family life today. The family dynamics have totally changed, veering away from tradition and embracing yet more changes that allow for greater personal freedom.


The 1920s is an interesting era. If you wish to learn more about the life and times of Americans who lived in the Roaring 20s, delve into the pages of Promise of Sunrise. You can also discuss it with me through Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. It will be a pleasure to hear from you.

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Melinda Heald

Melinda Heald

Melinda Heald is a native of Arizona. She is a retired elementary school teacher who specialized in language arts and has brought reading to a... Read More