100 Years Ago, Flapper Culture Officially Became A Phenomenon

Colleen Moore on being a Flapper 1922 | Colleen moore, Photo, Silent film

2022 marks the centenary of a very specific social phenomenon–1920s flapper culture. That’s right, I’m saying “centenary,” because I propose that 1922 should be formally recognized as the “Birth Year of the Flapper.” I’ve spent, err, too much time exploring this fascinating era of the early 20th century (especially when I did Flapper Month here on Silent-ology a few years ago), and after awhile I started noticing a trend. While flapper culture had been brewing and evolving for quite some time, 1922 is truly the year when the quintessential bobbed-hair flapper burst into the public consciousness. Did she ever!

It was also the year The Flapper magazine debuted–“Not For Old Fogies.”

Two examples of what I mean: here’s the results you get when you search for “flapper flappers” (both words at the same time) in the years 1910-1929 on the Media History Digital Library:

And if you do the same search on Chronicling America, if you narrow the search results down to a single year at a time, you will see:

1919: 12 results
1920: 22
1921: 36
1922: 533 (!)

I dunno, that’s looking pretty clear cut to me!

Postwar Flappers (Chapter 23) - F. Scott Fitzgerald in Context

(If you’re curious, on Chronicling America 1923 = 67 results, and 1924 = 64. After 1922, flappers seemed to be an accepted part of life–or maybe the public was tired of talking about them so much.)

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