Misconceptions About the 1920s | Summary and Q&A

April 8, 2020
Mental Floss
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Misconceptions About the 1920s


This video debunking misconceptions about the 1920s covers topics such as prohibition, car ownership, flappers, sports, Woodrow Wilson, Mickey Mouse, and the stock market crash.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Did the 18th amendment during prohibition ban the consumption of alcohol in the United States?

No, it only banned the production and sale of alcohol, leading to stockpiling of booze by some Americans.

Q: Who invented the assembly line in the automobile industry?

While Henry Ford popularized the assembly line, the division of specialized labor and assembly line processes predated him, with Ransom E. Olds credited for developing the process in 1902.

Q: Were flappers only a U.S. phenomenon in the 1920s?

No, women worldwide rebelled, with Germany, Japan, and France also experiencing changes in gender roles and fashion. The typical "flapper" style depicted in media came later, and fringe was not as common as beadwork or embroidery.

Q: Did Wally Pipp lose his starting role due to a headache?

Contrary to popular belief, Pipp's benching was not tied to a headache. He was struggling with hitting at the time, particularly against left-handed pitchers.

Q: Was Edith Wilson America's first female president?

While Edith Wilson took on a significant role in governing due to Woodrow Wilson's stroke, her claim of never making decisions regarding public affairs is disputed. However, it is clear that Woodrow Wilson was unable to perform many of his presidential duties for at least part of 1920.

Q: Did Walt Disney invent Mickey Mouse?

Walt Disney co-created Mickey Mouse with animator Ub Iwerks, who played a significant role in Mickey's initial design. Disney later presented himself as the sole creative source, leading to misconceptions.

Q: Did the stock market crash cause the Great Depression?

Modern economists believe the stock market crash of 1929 was both a symptom and contributing factor to the Great Depression. Other factors, such as trade tariffs, countries returning to the gold standard, and decreased economic activity, also played a significant role.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The 18th amendment didn't outlaw the consumption of alcohol during prohibition; it banned production and sale, leading to stockpiling of booze.

  • Car ownership in the 1920s soared due to Henry Ford's assembly line, although he wasn't the inventor of the assembly line.

  • Flappers rebelled worldwide, not just in the United States, and their fashion wasn't as short or focused on fringe as commonly depicted.

  • The term "Wally Pipped" originated from a baseball player named Wally Pipp, but he wasn't actually replaced due to a headache.

  • Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith, took on a significant role in governing due to his stroke, leading to debates around her influence as a possible "first female president."

  • Walt Disney didn't solely create Mickey Mouse; he co-created it with animator Ub Iwerks, who is often overshadowed in the narrative.

  • The stock market crash in 1929 was a symptom of economic failure rather than the sole cause of the Great Depression.

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