Silent Generation is a label for the generation of people born from 1925–1942 notably during the Great Depression and World War II. The label was originally applied to people in North America but has also been applied to those in Western Europe, Australasia and South America. It includes most of those who fought during the Korean War.
The label "Silent Generation" was first coined in the November 5, 1951, cover story of Time to refer to the generation coming of age at the time, born during the Great Depression and World War II, including the bulk of those who fought during the Korean War. The article found its characteristics as grave and fatalistic, conventional, possessing confused morals, expecting disappointment but desiring faith, and for women, desiring both a career and a family. The article stated: "Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today's younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the 'Silent Generation'."
The phrase gained further currency after William Manchester's comment that members of this generation were "withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent."The name was used by Strauss and Howe in their book Generations as their designation for that generation in the United States born from 1925 to 1942. The generation is also known as the Postwar Generation and the Seekers, when it is not neglected altogether and placed by marketers in the same category as the G.I. or "Greatest" Generation.
The Lucky Few
They have also been called the "Lucky Few" by Elwood D. Carlson, Ph.D. in his 2008 book titled The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom. Carlson is the Charles B. Nam Professor in Sociology of Population at Florida State University. He was the director of FSU's Center for Demography and Population Health from 2003 through 2007.
Describing the book the publisher writes: The "Lucky Few became the first American generation smaller than the one before them, and the luckiest generation of Americans ever. As children they experienced the most stable intact parental families in the nation’s history. Lucky Few women married earlier than any other generation of the century and helped give birth to the Baby Boom, yet also gained in education compared to earlier generations. Lucky Few men made the greatest gains of the century in schooling, earned veterans benefits like the Greatest Generation but served mostly in peacetime with only a fraction of the casualties, came closest to full employment, and spearheaded the trend toward earlier retirement. More than any other generation, Lucky Few men advanced into professional and white-collar jobs while Lucky Few women concentrated in mostly pink collar work. Even in retirement and old age the Lucky Few remain in the right place at the right time".
In Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe define the Silents / Lucky Few as an Artist/Adaptive generation. An Artist (or Adaptive) generation is born during a Crisis, spends its rising adult years in a new High, spends midlife in an Awakening, and spends old age in an Unraveling. Artistic leaders have been advocates of fairness and the politics of inclusion, irrepressible in the wake of failure.
- Strauss, William; Neil Howe (1991). Generations: The History of Americas Future, 1584 to 2069. New York, NY: Harper Perennial. p. 279. ISBN 0-688-11912-3.
- The Younger Generation, Time Magazine, 1951
- TIME Magazine - U.S. Edition -- November 5, 1951 Vol. LVIII No. 19
- The silent generation
- Carlson, Elwood (2008). The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom. Berlin: Springer Science and Business Media. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-4020-8540-6.
- Carlson, Elwood D. "FSU Faculty Bio". Florida State University. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- TIME Magazine, The Younger Generation, 1951
- TIME Magazine, The Silent Generation Revisited, 1970
- The Silent Generation