Civil Rights / Cold War
CR Kids/Teens 03 Teens in Nashville CR Kids/Teens 04 Home Ec CR Kids/Teens 06 Enjoying the View CR Kids/Teens 05 Majorettes and Mascot CWX/CRM Teenagers Dance at Antioch


Up until the 1930s and early 1940s, many children between 13 and 18 years old worked on their family’s farm or worked in a factory. They were expected to help support their families, especially during hard economic times.

As jobs became scarce in the Great Depression, and mandatory school laws were passed, more and more of these teen-aged children went to high school.
As these children spent most of the day together in school, they began to look to each other, rather than adults, for approval. Movies, such as the Andy Hardy series, begin to feature teenagers.

Magazines were published for them. The word teenager, which did not exist until the 1940s, was used to describe this age group between 13 and 19 years old.
As families had more money in the 1950s, they could afford to buy more for their children and to give their children money to spend. These teenagers became a major target for advertisers. They often felt independent and looked for opportunities for privacy from their parents.

Picture Credits:
  • A photograph by Ralph Morrissey of a group of teenagers hanging out on Fifth Avenue in Nashville during the 1950s.  Notice that the girls are wearing rolled up jeans with white bobby socks, a fashion during this time.  Ralph G. Morrissey Photograph Collection, Tennessee Historical Society, Volunteer Voices, University of Tennessee Knoxville Digital Library
  • Students at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport learn how to take care of a baby (using a doll) during Home Economics class in the early 1960s.  Girls were expected to marry and become wives and mothers after school.  Photograph from the Maroon & Grey yearbook, 1964
  • Photograph taken of teenagers dancing to the music of the Majestics at Antioch High School in Nashville in 1966.  The Majestics played mostly rhythm and blues at local Nashville venues.  Photograph courtesy of "Rock Combos of Nashville: 1950s-1970s" online at
  • Lexington High School majorettes pose with their school's mascot, Big Red Tiger in 1975.  From the left are Ginger Cary, Gina Roberts, Lori Henderson, and Deborah Britt.  Published in the 2005 Henderson County, Tennessee Connections: A Pictorial History by Brenda Kirk Fiddler, photo by William Arnold, courtesy of Arnold Studio Archives
  • Three young women enjoy the view at Fall Creek Falls State Park in 1952. The girls are dressed in the fashion for the time, sweaters, skirts, bobbie socks, and saddle shoes. TN Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection, Tennessee State Library and Archives


   Civil Rights / Cold War >>  Everyday Life >>  Leisure Time >>  Teenagers

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