The Roaring Twenties Primary Source Analysis Answer Key: Tips For Understanding

Last Modified: Published: 2023/04
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The Roaring Twenties is a term used to describe the decade of the 1920s in America. This period is known for its economic prosperity, cultural and social changes, and political turbulence. To understand this era, historians rely on primary sources, such as letters, diaries, photographs, and newspaper articles. In this article, we will provide tips for analyzing primary sources related to the Roaring Twenties and offer an answer key for common questions.

Tip 1: Contextualize the Source

The first step in analyzing a primary source is to understand its context. Who wrote it? When was it written? What was happening at the time? For example, if you are analyzing a letter from a flapper, you need to know that flappers were young women who embraced new fashions and social norms in the 1920s. They were often associated with jazz music, dancing, and drinking.

Tip 2: Identify the Author's Bias

All primary sources are written from a particular perspective. It is important to identify the author's bias and consider how it might affect the source's reliability. For example, if you are analyzing a newspaper article about Prohibition, you need to know if the newspaper supported or opposed Prohibition. This information can help you understand the article's intended audience and purpose.

Tip 3: Evaluate the Source's Credibility

Not all primary sources are reliable. Some sources may be biased, inaccurate, or incomplete. It is important to evaluate the source's credibility before using it as evidence. For example, if you are analyzing a photograph, you need to know who took the photograph and how it was edited. You also need to consider if the photograph has been staged or manipulated.

Tip 4: Look for Patterns and Themes

To gain a deeper understanding of the Roaring Twenties, it is helpful to look for patterns and themes across multiple primary sources. For example, if you are analyzing multiple newspaper articles about the Scopes Trial, you can look for common arguments and perspectives. This can help you understand how different groups of people viewed the trial and its significance.

Tip 5: Consider the Source's Audience

Primary sources are often written for a particular audience. It is important to consider the audience when analyzing a source. For example, if you are analyzing a letter from a suffragette, you need to know if the letter was written to a friend or to a politician. This can help you understand the suffragette's goals and strategies.

Answer Key: Common Questions about the Roaring Twenties

1. What were the causes of the economic boom in the 1920s?

The economic boom of the 1920s was caused by several factors, including the growth of new industries, such as automobiles and radio, and the expansion of credit. The government also pursued policies that favored business growth, such as tax cuts and deregulation.

2. What were the cultural and social changes of the Roaring Twenties?

The Roaring Twenties saw significant changes in American culture and society. These changes included the rise of new forms of entertainment, such as jazz music and dancing, and the emergence of new social norms, such as the flapper lifestyle. The decade also saw increased political activism, particularly in the areas of women's rights and civil rights.

3. What was the impact of Prohibition on American society?

Prohibition, the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol, had a significant impact on American society. While it was intended to reduce crime and improve public health, Prohibition instead led to increased organized crime and corruption. The ban also contributed to a rise in illegal drinking establishments, known as speakeasies.

4. What were the causes and consequences of the stock market crash of 1929?

The stock market crash of 1929 was caused by several factors, including overproduction, speculation, and a lack of government regulation. The crash led to a severe economic depression that lasted throughout the 1930s. The depression had significant social and political consequences, including the rise of authoritarian regimes in Europe.


Analyzing primary sources is essential to understanding the Roaring Twenties. By contextualizing, evaluating, and considering the biases of primary sources, historians can gain a deeper understanding of this important period in American history. We hope that these tips and answer key have been helpful in your studies.



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