1950’s Trivia Quiz

In my last post, I wrote about teaching a history elective called America in the Sixties.  Unfortunately, I didn’t interweave the material into a harmonious tapestry; instead, I patched together a quilt – separate units on the 50’s, civil rights, Vietnam, the Great Society, Second Wave Feminism, Counterculture, and music.

I thought it might be fun to see how any trivia mavens out there might fare on the multiple-choice section of my final exam.  I’m fairly sure no one is interested in tackling the exam essay.[1]

So, here’s the first section on the 1950’s.  The answers will appear in the comments below.

1. Who warned the American People about the dangers of “the military-industrial complex?”

A. Truman  B. Eisenhower  C. Kennedy  D. Nixon

2. Which of the following statements is not true concerning the US economy in the 1950s?

A. GNP averaged 7.6%    B. high government spending  C. characterized by consumer society D. low taxes

3. Which of the following is not true about women in the 1950s?

A. median age of marriage rose
B. many women kept working
C. women could not legally obtain an abortion
D. women were seldom employed as business executives

4. What was the primary reason that the number of college students doubled in the 1950s?

A. booming economy   B. baby boom   C. GI Bill   D. more acceptable for women to attend

5. Who is the Senator who spearheaded the Red Scare persecution of American citizens considered “communist sympathizers?”

A. Joseph McCarthy   B. Roy Cohn  C. Barry Goldwater D. J Edgar Hoover

6. What was the surname of the married couple who were convicted of providing the Soviet Union with scientific atomic bomb making secrets?

A. Hiss  B. Cohn  C. Arnold   D. Rosenberg

7. Which of the following didn’t occur in the 1950s?

A. Montgomery Bus Boycott  B. integration of Little Rock Schools  C. Brown v. Board of Education  D. the March on Washington

8. Who was the leader of the Soviet Union for majority of the Fifties?

A. Lenin  B. Stalin  C. Khrushchev D. Brezhnev

9. Which of the following is not associated with Beats?

A. Allen Ginsberg  B. Timothy Leary  C. Jack Kerouac D. William Burroughs

10.  Which of the following wasn’t a musical force in the Fifties?

A.  Bo Diddley                                    B.  Buddy Holly

C. Chuck Berry                                  D.  James Baldwin


[1]The 60s obviously had its dark and bright sides, and not surprisingly, historians disagree about whether the overall impact was positive or negative. Here’s historian Arthur Marwick:

Mention of `the sixties’ rouses strong emotions even in those who were already old when the sixties began and those who were not even born when the sixties ended. For some it is a golden age, for others a time when the old secure framework of morality, authority, and discipline disintegrated. In the eyes of the far left, it is the era when revolution was at hand, only to be betrayed by the feebleness of the faithful and the trickery of the enemy; to the radical right, an era of subversion and moral turpitude. What happened between the late fifties and the early seventies has been subject to political polemic, nostalgic mythologizing, and downright misrepresentations.

In a thesis driven essay in which you cite specific events and individuals, evaluate the 60s as a decade. On the whole, do you consider it positive or negative. Why?

Matters you might consider include the social and economic order of the 1950s, the Communist threat, civil rights, assassinations, Viet Nam, Great Society legislation, social upheaval (counterculture, protests, riots), and women’s rights.