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Explore the Decades - 1950s

1950s Newspaper Gifts

The aftermath of the Second World War was still being felt at the beginning of the 1950s, but the re-election of Churchill in 1951 provided hope and celebration. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place one year later. Living standards began to improve dramatically and society was more affluent by the end of the decade.

The Cold War rumbled on throughout the 1950s and many felt uneasy and fearful of communism. Conformity was encouraged, but the decade showed signs of rebellion. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X challenged racism and literature questioned the government. The church started to lose its strong grip on society and women began to dress more daringly, copying icons including Marilyn Monroe.

Television was introduced in 1952 and programmes such as “I Love Lucy” became instantly popular. The movie industry felt the need to compete with TV, even though it was producing hits such as “Singing in the Rain”. Teenagers became the target audience and movies featured rebellious teen idols including Marlon Brando and James Dean. Rock ’n’ Roll music became the latest craze and it captured the desire of youth for fun and abandonment. Artists such as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were international superstars.