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The 1920s was a decade that began on January 1, 1920 and ended on December 31, 1929. It is sometimes referred to as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age, when speaking about the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. In Europe the decade is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age Twenties" because of the economic boom following World War I.
Since the end of the 20th century, the economic strength during the 1920s has drawn close comparison with the 1950s and 1990s, especially in the United States of America. These three decades are regarded as periods of economic prosperity, which lasted throughout nearly each entire decade. Each of the three decades followed a tremendous event that occurred in the previous decade (World War I and Spanish flu in the 1910s, World War II in the 1940s, and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s).
However, not all countries enjoyed this prosperity. The Weimar Republic, like many other European countries, had to face a severe economic downturn in the opening years of the decade, because of the enormous debt caused by the war as well as the Treaty of Versailles. Such a crisis would culminate with a devaluation of the Mark in 1923, eventually leading to severe economic problems and, in the long term, favour the rise of the Nazi Party.
Additionally, the decade was characterized by the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism began attracting larger amounts of support following the success of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' determination to win the subsequent Russian Civil War. To move the backward economy of Russia towards a more developed economy in which socialism would become possible, the Bolsheviks adopted a policy of mixed economics, from 1921 to 1928, and also created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the end of 1922. The 1920s marked the first time in the United States that the population in the cities surpassed the population of rural areas. This was due to rapid urbanization starting in the 1920s.
The 1920s also experienced the rise of the far right and fascism in Europe and elsewhere, being perceived as a solution to prevent the spread of Communism. The knotty economic problems also favoured the rise of dictators in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Józef Piłsudski in the Second Polish Republic and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 drew a line under the prosperous 1920s.
War, peace and politics 
Internal conflicts 
Major political changes 
Decolonization and independence 
International issues 
- See also Social issues of the 1920s
- Rise of radical political movements such as communism and fascism, amid the economic and political turmoil after World War I and after the stock market crash
- Kellogg–Briand Pact to end war
- Women's suffrage movement continues to make gains as women obtain full voting rights in New Zealand (1893), the Grand Duchy of Finland (1906), Denmark (1915), the United Kingdom in 1918 (women over 30) and in 1928 (full enfranchisement), and in the United States in 1920; women begin to enter the workplace in larger numbers.
United States 
Prohibition agents destroying barrels of alcohol.
- Prohibition of alcohol occurs in the United States. Prohibition in the United States began January 16, 1919, with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S.Constitution, effective as of January 17, 1920, and it continued throughout the 1920s. Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933. Organized crime turns to smuggling and bootlegging of liquor, led by figures such as Al Capone, boss of the Chicago Outfit.
- The Immigration Act of 1924 places restrictions on immigration. National quotas curbed most Eastern and Southern European nationalities, further enforced the ban on immigration of East Asians, Indians and Africans, and put mild regulations on nationalities from the Western Hemisphere (Latin Americans).
- The major sport was baseball and the most famous player was Babe Ruth.
- The Lost Generation (which characterized disillusionment), was the name Gertrude Stein gave to American writers, poets, and artists living in Europe during the 1920s. Famous members of the Lost Generation include Cole Porter, Gerald Murphy, Patrick Henry Bruce, Waldo Peirce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, and Sherwood Anderson.
- Growth and general acceptance of the Ku Klux Klan in America.
- The Scopes Trial (1925), which declared that John T. Scopes had violated the law by teaching evolution in schools, creating tension between the competing theories of creationism and evolutionism.
- John Logie Baird invents the first working mechanical television system (1925). In 1928 he invents and demonstrates the first color television.
- Warner Brothers produces the first movie with a soundtrack Don Juan in 1926, followed by the first Part-Talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, the first All-Talking movie Lights of New York in 1928 and the first All-Color All-Talking movie On with the Show, 1929. Silent films start giving way to sound films. By 1936, the transition phase arguably ends, with Modern Times being the last notable silent film.
- Charles Lindbergh becomes the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (May 20–21, 1927), nonstop from New York to Paris, France.
- Karl Ferdinand Braun invented the modern electronic cathode ray tube in 1897. The CRT became a commercial product in 1922.
- Record companies (such as Victor, Brunswick and Columbia) introduce an electrical recording process on their phonograph records in 1925 (that had been developed by Western Electric), resulting in a more lifelike sound.
- Robert Goddard makes the first flight of a liquid-fueled rocket in 1926.
- The first electric razor was patented in 1928 by the American manufacturer Col. Jacob Schick.
- The first selective Jukeboxes being introduced in 1927 by the Automated Musical Instrument Company.
- Harold Stephen Black revolutionized the field of applied electronics by inventing the negative feedback amplifier in 1927.
- Clarence Birdseye invented a process for frozen food in 1925.
Popular culture 
Main article: 1920s in film
- First commercial radio stations in the U.S., 8MK (WWJ) in Detroit and (KDKA 1020 AM) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, go on the air on August 27, 1920.
- Both stations broadcast the election results between Harding and Cox in early November. The first station to receive a commercial license is WBZ, then in Springfield MA, in mid-September 1921. While there are only a few radio stations in 1920–21, by 1922 the radio craze is sweeping the country.
- 1922: The BBC begins radio broadcasting in the United Kingdom
- On August 27, 1920, regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment began in Argentina for the first time, by the group around Enrique Susini Telemachus, and failed to spark telegraphy.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes some of the most enduring novels characterizing the Jazz Age. This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, and The Great Gatsby, as well as three short story collections, were all published in these years.
- Hermann Hesse publishes Siddhartha
- A. A. Milne publishes Winnie-the-Pooh
- Ernest Hemingway publishes The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms
- Thornton Wilder publishes The Bridge of San Luis Rey
- Alexey Tolstoy publishes Aelita
- Kahlil Gibran publishes The Prophet
- George Bernard Shaw publishes Back to Methuselah
- Eugene O'Neill awarded Pulitzer Prizes for Beyond the Horizon in 1920, Anna Christie in 1922, and Strange Interlude in 1928.
- Sinclair Lewis publishes Main Street, Babbitt, Dodsworth, Arrowsmith, and Elmer Gantry
- Wallace Stevens publishes his first book of poetry, Harmonium
- André Breton publishes the Surrealist Manifesto
- D.H. Lawrence publishes Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley's Lover
- Virginia Woolf publishes Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own and Orlando
- T. S. Eliot publishes The Waste Land
- James Joyce publishes Ulysses
- Franz Kafka publishes The Trial
- Erich Maria Remarque publishes All Quiet on the Western Front
- Hugh MacDiarmid publishes A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
- Aldous Huxley publishes his inaugural novel Crome Yellow
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Bauhaus College in Dessau
Miscellaneous trends 
World leaders 
- Hendrik G. Cannegieter, Chief of the Secretariat World Meteorological Organization
- Oskar Dressler, Secretary International Criminal Police Organization
- Sir James Eric Drummond, Secretary-general League of Nations
- Christian Louis Lange, Secretary-general Inter-Parliamentary Union
- Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen, League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- Pierre Nolf, Chairman of the Standing Commission International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
- Ludwik J. Rajchman, Medical Director of the Health Section International Health Organization
- Johann Schober, President International Criminal Police Organization
- Albert Thomas, Director International Labour Organization
Film makers 
Main article: 1920s in film
Sports figures 
See also 
The following articles contain brief timelines listing the most prominent events of the decade:
1920 • 1921 • 1922 • 1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929
- Robert Sobel The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920s. (1968)