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Lone Star College - Kingwood
American Cultural History
1980 - 1989
|FACTS about this decade.
Unemployed in 1980:
National Debt: 1980 - $914,000,000,000
National Debt: 1986 - $2,000,000,000,000
Average salary: $15,757
Life Expectancy: Male 69.9 Female 77.6
Minimum Wage: $3.10
BMW was $12,000; Mercedes 280 E was $14,800
Attendance: Movies 20 million/week
Daily 100 - Interactive quotes from the 80s
The 1980s became the Me! Me! Me! generation of status seekers. During the 1980s, hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts, and mega-mergers spawned a new breed of billionaire. Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, and Ivan Boesky iconed the meteoric rise and fall of the rich and famous. If you've got it, flaunt it and You can have it all! were watchwords. Forbes' list of 400 richest people became more important than its 500 largest companies. Binge buying and credit became a way of life and 'Shop Til you Drop' was the watchword. Labels were everything, even (or especially) for our children. Tom Wolfe dubbed the baby-boomers as the 'splurge generation.' Video games, aerobics, minivans, camcorders, and talk shows became part of our lives. The decade began with double-digit inflation, Reagan declared a war on drugs, Kermit didn't find it easy to be green, hospital costs rose, we lost many, many of our finest talents to AIDS which before the decade ended spread to black and Hispanic women, and unemployment rose. On the bright side, the US Constitution had its 200th birthday, Gone with the Wind turned 50, ET phoned home, and in 1989 Americans gave $115,000,000,000 to charity. And, Internationally, at the very end of the decade the Berlin Wall was removed - making great changes for the decade to come! At the turn of the decade, many were happy to leave the spendthrift 80s for the 90s, although some thought the eighties TOTALLY AWESOME.
The purpose of this web and library guide is to help the user gain a broad understanding and appreciation for the culture and history of the 1980s. In a very small way, this is a bibliographic essay. While there is no way we can link to everything, we have attempted to find areas of special interest and to select information that we hold dear today - movies we still watch, songs we sing, food, events that move us, people we admire.
see the whole picture, we encourage users to browse all the way through this
page and then visit the suggested links for more information on the decade.
We believe the best way to immerse oneself in a topic is to use both Internet
and the library. Maybe the most valuable information is best read
in books, or viewed on video, or heard on audio cassettes. More photographs,
more information, more depth. But then, there is information that
will be found only on the Internet; a journal, a diary, or photographs like
those on our pages. We invite you to write.
It is hard to get a perspective at this early date for the eighties. Historians
in future decades can judge. For now, I have mostly listed!
Thanks for the many, many visits and letters we have already received.
Writing these decade pages has been an enjoyable experience for us. !Have a good time!
Science and technology made terrific strides in the eighties. Large numbers of Americans began using personal computers in their homes, offices, and schools. Columbia, America's first reusable spacecraft was launched in 1981. A sad day in our history was January 28, 1986, when space shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds after liftoff at Cape Canavaral, Florida killing all seven astronauts, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Research money allowed for studies and new treatments for heart, cancer, and other diseases. Major advances in genetics research led to the 1988 funding of the Human Genome Project. This project will locate the estimated 80,000 genes contained in human DNA. (Try the Timeline)
During this decade Wayne Williams was arrested in Atlanta for the murders of 23 black children, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman Supreme Court Justice, 52 hostages were released from their 444 days of captivity in Iran, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial inscribed with 57,939 names of American soldiers killed or missing in Vietnam was dedicated, income climbed more than 20 percent, Ivan Boesky of Drexel Burnham Lambert made headlines with insider trading scandals, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman presidential candidate, Jesse Jackson was the first black candidate, the stock market tripled in 7 years yet survived the 1987 crash, and televangelist Jim Bakker was sentenced to 45 years for selling bogus lifetime vacations. The sexual revolution encountered a major adversary when Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985. Prisons overflowed and violent crime rates which, in 1980, had tripled since 1960, continued to climb with the appearance of crack in 1985. From 1985 to 1990 the use of cocain addiction was up 35 percent, though the number of users had declined. Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign had great influence. Toward the end of the decade, President Bush called for a kinder, gentler nation and volunteerism and contributions reached an all time high.
Families changed drastically during
these years. The 80s continued the trends of the 60s and 70s - more divorces,
more unmarrieds living together, more single parent families. The two-earner
family was even more common than in previous decades, more women earned college
and advanced degrees, married, and had fewer children.
|Important Historic and Cultural Events|
|REF E18.5.U75 Timetables of American History Include history and politics, the arts, science and technology, and other info of interest.|
|REF E174.D52 Dictionary of American HistoryFrom very brief to multi-page signed entries on topics in American History.|
|REF E169.1A471872 America in the 20th Century 1970-1979 is covered in volume 8. Typical of Marshall Cavendish, this encyclopedic set is accessible and gives easy to use background information for this decade. Covers from art to transportation.|
|REF E173.A793The Annals of America Volume 21 covers the early part of this decade. Set contains essays and excepts from important writers and on important topics of the time. Most valuable for this research.|
|REF N7593,C93 Dictionary of American Portraits Photographs or drawings of important Americans. Brief description of their contribution. Arranged by person.|
Eighties was a huge decade
for art, art museums, and artists. Artists included mostly moderns
Johns, Willem De
Kooning, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Marisol,
Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella.
Andy Warhol did a few ads.
Artists were trying new arenas and pushing the envelop. During the
decade, huge numbers of people protested the Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Corcoran then at the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Veterans protested a Chicago
Art Institute exhibit that had the flag draped on the floor, Richard
Serra's Tilted Arc was removed from NYC's Federal plaza, and Andrew Wyeth's Helga pictures were refused
by some museums but in 1987, the Helga paintings were exhibited at the National
Gallery of Art, the gallery's first exhibition of works by a living artist.
Auctions of famous art works brought record prices. Early in the decade Picasso's 'Yo' brought 5.4 million. By 1987, Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' brought $39.9 million while 'Irises" brought $53.9 million dollars! The Museum of Modern Art reopened twice as large as previously, Joseph Hirshhorn left his works to the Hirshhorn Museum (Smithsonian), places like San Antonio built multi-million dollar museums. In March, 1990, in a nighttime art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, thieves made off with 12 works of art, including paintings by Degas, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Vermeer, valued at $100,000,000 (now estimated $300,000,000 - 2008). Never recovered.
A few famous architectural feats of the 80s were the Menil Collection in Houston by Renzo Piano (wow), Trump Tower, High Museum in Atlanta, Union Station in Washington, and Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersberg. I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier were among the most renowned architects of the period.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE LINKS
|N 6490 .L792 Visual Arts in the Twentieth Century History of art in the 20th Century which includes all art forms and architecture. Set up chronologically by decade.|
|REF N 6512 .A578 American Artists: Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporary Americans Reviews and biographical data on more than 1,000 living American artists.|
|N 6537 .C48 A2 Beyond the Flower: the Autobiography of a Feminist Artist Autobiography of Judy Chicago|
|REF NA 712 .L4 20th Century American Architure Photographs and discussions of 200 key buildings.|
|NA 737 .K32 B73 Kimbell Art Museum Architecture in detail, an examination of the building with photos, drawings and discussion.|
Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house
Don't kill that fly!
Look- it's wringing its hands,
wringing its feet.
|To the left,
haiku by Issa, 17th century poet Translated by Robert Haas.
Or the beginning of 'Song' by Haas....
Afternoon cooking in the fall
"Hey, I'm home!" to an empty house?
|In Those Years
In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we,of you
we found ourselves
reduced to I
and the whole thing
became silly, ironic, terrible:
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to
But the great dark birds of history screamed
~ Adrienne Rich ~
Published in 1991, but surely speaks to the 1980s generation.
|Books That Define
Books About Books
|REF PN50 .L574 Literature and Its Times Profiles notable literary works and the historical events that influenced them. Vol. 5 covers 1960- .|
|REF Z1003.2.C66 American Literacy 4-6 page essays on 50 books that define the American culture.|
|REF Z1219.C96 1905 (annual) Book Review Digest Indexes and abstracts book reviews. Use it to find books written during the period and their reviews|
Children's Book Award winners of the eighties:
Award Winner - Began in 1922 (most distinguished children's
book of the previous year)
Award Winner - Began in 1938 (most distinguished children's
picture book of the previous year)
1980: Ox-Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall
1981: Fables by Arnold Lobel
1982: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
1983: Shadow, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown; original text in French: Blaise Cendrars
1984: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice & Martin Provensen
1985: Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman; text: retold by Margaret Hodges
1986: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
1987: Hey, Al, illustrated by Richard Egielski; text: Arthur Yorinks
1988: Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr; text: Jane Yolen
1989: Song and Dance Man, illustrated by Stephen Gammell; text: Karen Ackerman
came under fire during the 1980s. Liberals cried out against budget cuts and
rising student costs. School districts offered teachers exams and exit
exams became a part of graduating for Education majors. Conservatives
Jr. and William Bennett
advocated a return to the classics for college students and back to the basic
skills for public school students. An attempt was made to improve the
teacher quality by raising salaries slightly. Efforts to censor books
tripled in the eighties. The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , The Grapes of Wrath,
and Catcher in the
Rye were among books banned in New York State. Roget's Thesaurus
banned sexist categories: mankind becamehumankind; countryman
became country dweller. Columbia University, the
last all male Ivy League school, began accepting women in 1983. President
Reagan endorsed a constitutional amendment
to permit school prayer. It was defeated.
Nerd's became a hot commodity in the 1980s. Wealthy and brainy computer wizards like Stephen Wozniak helped. So did movies like Revenge of the Nerds, Lucas, Stand by Me, and Peggy Sue Got Married. TV joined the nerd ranks with ABC's hit series Head of the Class. Food of the 80s included the popular fast food places like Taco Bell and McDonald's McDLT and McRib. Kids loved Sweetarts, Skittles, Nerds, Runts, Hubba Bubba Chewing Gum, and Five Alive.
Collectibles were big in the 80s. Smurf and E.T. paraphernalia, Cabbage Patch dolls, camcorders, video games (Nintendo, Pac Man, Game Boy), Rubik's Cube, Teenage Mutant Nija Turtles, and Barbies (now Hispanic, Black, Asian) were big. New were discount air fares, lite foods, aerobics, minivans, talkshows, and Valley Girls (grody to the max).
The combination of Nancy Reagan's elegance and Princess Di's love of fashion, stimulated a return to opulent clothing styles. Power dressing was in. Madonna was a big influence on young fashion. Anne Klein, Perry Ellis, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein were designers for the 80s. Film continued to influence and inspire clothing. The Flashdance look had young and old in tank tops, tight-fitting pants or torn jeans, and leg-warmers. Teens not wearing designer clothes opted for Michael Jackson's glove or Madona's fishnet stockings, leather, and chains. Older women wore the Out of Africa look popularized by Meryl Streep. Image won over reality and tanning salons thrived. Sneakers were so popular (and necessary) and the price so high that the Los Angeles Police Department accused shoe companies of cashing in on the easy drug money picked up by inner city kids. The shoe companies, like Nike, claimed the cost of high technologies needed to create the shoes was responsible for the huge jump in price. Kids like to do their own thing - see hairdos in pictures as evidence!
During the eighties, Americans continued to travel around their own country - using every mode of transportation. Trips to Colorado for a mountain vacation were popular in summer as well as winter. Traveling was often in RVs.
|REF E169.1.P19 Panati's Parade of Fads, Follies and Manias Arranged by decade, includes fads, dance crazes, radio, tv, popular books and songs.|
|E169.1.S9733 Culture as History : The Transformation of American Excellent source for this topic. Events which transformed the social, political and cultural face of America in this century. Society in the Twentieth Century|
|REF GT510 .B6713 20,000 Years of Fashion Chapter XIII covers 1960-1983. With illustrations and photographs.|
|GT605.H35 Common Threads: A Parade of American Clothing Includes an overview of the 20th century, then chapters on contributors to changes in fashion.|
Cable was born and MTV, orginally intended to be promos for albums, had an enormous impact on music and young people. The digital compact disc (cd) revolutionized the music industry. Dances learned on MTV included slam dancing, lambada, and break dancing. Harlem's gay, black, and Latino males imitated the beautiful jet set with their (then underground) Vogueing, a 'pose' dance popularized by Madonna incorporating the struts and stances of high fashion models.
Pop, rock, new wave, punk, country, and especially rap or hip hop became popular in the 80s. Rap had started at block parties in New York City with a DC remixing the music and an MC calling out complex rhymes. It was a lighthearted style but as the decade wore on, it became more abrasive and laced with hostility. Early important groups are Milli Vanilli, M. C. Hammer , Vanilla Ice, Queen Latifah and L.L. Cool J. Michael Jackson's album Thriller became the best selling album of all time. There are great links on the Internet for music of the 80s listed below. Here are a very few favorites from the top hits of the decade:
|1980||Please Don't Go - single||K.C. and the Sunshine Band|
|1980||The Wall - album||Pink Floyd|
|1981||Woman in Love - single||Stevie Wonder|
|1981||Greatest Hits- album||Kenny Rogers|
|1982||Ebony & Ivory - single||Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder|
|1982||Tattoo You - album||Rolling Stones|
|1983||Let's Dance - single||David Bowie|
|1983||Flashdance - album||Sound Track|
|1984||To All the Girls I've Loved Before - single||Julio Iglesias, Willie Nelson|
|1984||An Innocent Man - album||Billie Joel|
|1985||Night Shift - single||The Commodores|
|1985||Born in the U.S.A.- album||Bruce Springsteen|
|1986||That's What Friends
are For - single
|1986||Whitney Houston - album||Whitney Houston|
|1987||Give me Wings - single||Michael Johnson|
|1987||The Joshua Tree - album||U2|
|1988||Got My Mind Set on You - single||George Harrison|
|1988||Dirty Dancing - album||Soundtrack|
|1989||Better Man - single||Clint Black|
|1989||Nick of Time - album||Bonnie Raitt|
A Chronicle of American Music 1700-1995 - ML200.H15 - Arranged by year, historical highlights, world cultural highlights, American art and literature, music - commercial and cultural.
|Music Since 1900 - ML197.S634 - Arranged by day, includes important premiers and musical events.|
|The Great American Song Thesaurus - ML128.S37L4 - Arranged by year, summary of world and musical events, list of important songs.|
|Show Tunes 1905-1985 - ML390.S983 - Features important composers. Lists their shows and the published music for each show.|
|Illustrated History of Popular Music - ML3470 .M36 - 20 volumes covering the music, events, and people of Rock.|
Broadway revivals were important during the 80s. Revival musicals like West Side Story, The Music Man, Anything Goes, Me and My Gal, Brigadoon, Grand Hotel, Gypsy, and The King and I all did well at the box office. Sell-out musicals were ahead for La Cage aux Folles, Sunday in the Park with George, Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hits Cats, Starlight Express, Les Miserables, and The Phantom of the Opera. Dramas included M. Butterfly, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and Walk in the Woods. In 1980, the American Ballet Theater turned 40 and Mikhail Baryshnikov became director.
TV innovations and trends included anti-family sitcoms like Roseanne and Married...with Children; tabloid tv with Geraldo, Phil, Sally, and Oprah; stand-up comics included Gary Shandling, Jane Curtin, George Carlin, Jackie Mason, Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tracy Ullman; info-tainment included Nightline with Ted Koppel, CNN Cable News,and 20/20 with Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters. 60 Minutes which had first aired in 1968 was bigger than ever. It was a media decade with superstars. The decade of the sitcom, here is a list of the top ten TV shows of 1989.
|Cosby Show||Cheers||Roseanne||A Different World||America's Funniest Home Videos|
|Golden Girls||The Wonder Years||Empty Nest||60 Minutes||Unsolved Mysteries|
|Encyclopedia of Television - PN1992.18 .M874 - A comprehensive examination of the people, organizations, technology, and productions that have made television a major influence of the 20th Century.|
of the Cinema - PN1998 .A2 I48 - Brief entries by name, including photos.
|Variety Movie Guide - PN1995 .V3456.500- Films with basic information and brief synopsis|