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The Jazz Age

The Great Gatsby takes place during the summer of 1922. Fitzgerald coined the phrase, "the Jazz Age" that same year to describe the flamboyant—"anything goes"—era that emerged in America after World War I. Find out more about the popular culture and historical events that shaped and defined the 1920s.


Life Magazine Cover
Cover of Life, 2/18/1926 illustration by John Held.
How to do the Charleston.

From the Web - Resources available for all readers

The Roaring 20s

Explore the many online exhibits and collections about the 1920s at the Library of Congress and New York Public Library web sites.

The Library of Congress American Memory

New York Public Library Digital Gallery


Fixing the 1919 World Series

Art and Popular Culture

"Tom and Miss Baker sat at either end of the long couch and she read aloud to him from the The Saturday Evening Post... When we came in she held us silent for a moment with a lifted hand. "To be continued, " she said, tossing the magazine of the table, "in our very next issue." (p. 17)



Digital Resources from Cornell University Library Collections

Cornell NetID required for access:

  • Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920’s. New York: Wiley, 1997. [NetLibrary]
  • Hatton, Jackie. "Flappers." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Eds. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 2. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 112-113. 5 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Thomson Gale. Cornell University.
  • Kyvig, David E. Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1939: Decades of Promise and Pain. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. [NetLibrary]


Edith Wilson Dress

Edith Marks Wilson's Dress

Beaded “flapper” evening dress worn by Edith Marks Wilson, wife of Law Professor Lyman P. Wilson, at the formal Inaugural Dinner given by the trustees and faculty to President and Mrs. Livingston Farrand in the Old Armory for about 700 people, including trustees, faculty, and delegates and their wives, October 20, 1921.

The dress is currently on display as part of the Far Above Paradise: F Scott Fitzgerald and Cornell exhibit in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Rotunda, Level 2B, Krock Library.

The Cornell Costume and Textile Collection is planning an exhibit of costumes from the Jazz Age in the fall of 2006.


Additional Cornell Library Resources

  • Drowne, Kathleen Morgan. The 1920’s. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004.
    Olin Library E169.1 .D796 2004
  • Fass, Paula S. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920’s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, c1977.
    Olin Library HQ799.7 .F24
    Uris Library HQ799.7 .F24 1979
  • Latham, Angela J. Posing a Threat: Flappers, Chorus Girls, and Other Brazen Performers of the American 1920s. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.
    Olin Library HQ1420 .L38x 2000
    Uris Library HQ1420 .L38x 2000


Search the Cornell University Library Catalog to find even more Jazz Age resources. Any questions? Let us know if you need more information.
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