Tag Archives: 155-4

Perfecting Humanity

One aspect of the Progressive Era was the popularity of eugenics—selective reproduction to improve humanity. Indiana was the first state in the United States (and one of the first places in the world) to establish laws to determine whether or not the physically and mentally ill or disabled should be allowed to reproduce. This law was controversial from its inception. Signed into law by Indiana Governor J. Frank Hanly, its enforcement was blocked by the subsequent governor, Thomas R. Marshall. The law was found unconstitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921.
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Ideology and Propaganda: Make Mine Freedom

Throughout the Cold War, Harding College (now University) produced a number of films which promoted “American” values in the face of perceived pressure from “un-American” ideologies.  This short animated film, “Make Mine Freedom” is an early example of these films.  As you watch it, think about the goals the filmmakers had in creating this cartoon and who the cartoon’s audience might have been.

Source: The Prelinger Collection (direct link to video)

Questions to consider:

  1. The film makes reference to “isms”–given the year of production, to what “isms” might the filmmakers have been referring?
  2. What do the filmmakers promote as an alternative to ‘isms”?
  3. What are the specific dangers of these “isms”?
  4. What makes the American way better than the foreign “isms,” according to the filmmakers?

How Much Affection? Youth, Sex, and Social Norms in Cold War America

During the 1950s, some American thinkers expressed concern that deviation from accepted behavior, would contribute to a weakening of American society. This educational film from 1958 addresses some of the perceived consequences of premarital sex. While premarital sex was certainly not invented in the 1950s, concerns about “proper” behavior were enhanced by the tensions of the Cold War.

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