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Post–World War II America: 1945–1959



organization that resulted from the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations

baby boom

sharp spike in the birth rate that occurred in the two decades following World War II

Beat movement

literary, artistic, and social movement that sought to free participants from the social and artistic norms of the time

cold war

restricted war with very limited combat, fought on political and economic fronts using propaganda

G.I. Bill of Rights

legislation passed by Congress in 1944 to assist World War II veterans returning from abroad to reintegrate into society by providing them with certain benefits

Hollywood Ten

group of 10 screenwriters, directors, and producers who were questioned by the HUAC regarding possible communist affiliations in October 1947

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

committee established in the House of Representatives in 1938 to investigate alleged communist activity in the U.S. government and society at large

Jack Kerouac

important literary figure in the Beat movement, known for his stream-of-consciousness writing style

Joseph McCarthy

senator from Wisconsin elected in 1946 who started a campaign to root out communists in the federal government

labor union

association formed by workers in a particular industry or trade to fight for improved working conditions, wages, and benefits


housing developments planned by William J. Levitt featuring small homes on small lots equipped with modern appliances that could be easily remodeled as families grew


practice of attempting to discredit a person or suppress their civil rights by making accusations of political disloyalty

Red Scare

period of widespread fear of communists


primarily residential areas adjacent to urban areas

Taft-Hartley Act

anti-union legislation that preserved collective bargaining rights but otherwise diminished the power of labor unions

Veterans Administration (VA)

government agency responsible for administering benefits related to education, mortgages, small-business loans, and unemployment to veterans