Degree Year

1941

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Keywords

Bicycle, America, History, Economic, Automobile, Fashion, Health

Abstract

The trend in American History in recent years has been to put a much-needed emphasis on the social history of the American people. Studies have been made of their habits, customs, reform movements, economic problems--in short, anything that informs us of the way our ancestors lived and behaved has become history. With this new interest in social habits, history has ceased to be the chronicle of a series of revolutions, treaties. elections, and wars. It has become a living, breathing story of the rise and development of America and the people who inhabited it. This change is not meant to exclude the importance of political history; on the contrary, an understanding of political movements is enhanced by a thorough knowledge of the social and economic forces in operation at the time. History was made at the cross-roads general store and in the local machine shop as well as in the stately halls of Congress. Today it is our privilege to study the social scene or America's past and from it gain an insight into the way past Americans lived, acted, and thought.

What has all this to do with the bicycle? At first thought the bicycle seems a very unimportant, every-day object; but in the era that I am discussing its influence was strongly felt in the economic, social, and even political lite of the people. I have divided the subject into four divisions: I. History, II. Organizations, III. Social and Economic Influence, IV. The Gasoline Age. A brief discussion of these four divisions here will be of aid to the reader in following the story of the bicycle and in understanding the thesis which I develop.

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