Various popular books and articles are written that label various generations (about 20-30 years) in world history and U.S. history as having identifiable characteristics and influences on history and culture. These are rather speculative and there are a wide range of opinions as to how accurate or valid such labels might be. However, they are referred to and used extensively in the political, business/marketing and popular culture. Neil Howe and William Strauss have publish a number of books on the subject (Howe and Strauss 1992-2000). It is true that history influences generations and in turn generations influence history. Critical events, crisis,  and innovations are responded to by a generation born at a particular time and growing to adulthood. The events, etc. are caused by previous generations, but influence those growing up during the time and needing to face the consequences as adults. For instance a war which  results from actions of earlier generations yet the soldiers that must fight and sacrifice are mostly from the youngest adults.


Birth Years


Lost Generation 1883-1910 Progressive Era-WWI, Roaring '20s; Electricity/Auto
Greatest Generation 1911-1944 Depression; WWII
Baby Boomers 1946-1965 Post WWII, TV: Cold War/ Nuclear; 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights and anti War
Generation X 1966-1986 Mass Media and Computers
Generation Y 1987-2001 End of Cold War, Global Terrorism, increase of Fundamental Religions
Generation Z 2001- Post 9/11, Micro/Mc world; wireless, Global Warming; Stem Cell/Genome

Unfortunately, these labels open the door to generalizations that stigmatize all members of a particular group. It is part of a tendency to want to understand complex phenomena by generating a classification system that tends to lump together more diverse elements. America has diversity in its generations as well from region to region. Cutting edge changes tend to be focused on the West and East coast and in the urban areas. Changes in communication with e-mail wireless networks, internet, etc. brings all areas up to sped for good or bad. This is also occurring at a global level. As we enter the 21st century many scholar have reassessed the 20th century by generation or even by decade. Recently the US Postal Service issued a series of stamps reflecting significant events and contributions by decades from 1900- 2000.

The 1950's covers the beginning of the Baby Boomers which resulted from post war prosperity. The various elements of what was important can also be controversial. Certainly TV is a big impact, but the slinky is memorable but not of great influence culturally.