How Well Do You Know This Decade in History: 1950-1959

By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Breeding

About This Quiz

After the worldwide devastation of the Second World War, humankind took a short break from self-annihilation. In many places, the ’50s were a time of prosperity, recovery and family. What do you know about history from 1950 to 1959 in this too-tough-for-you quiz?

As the decade began, soldiers from the war were finally caught up with family life again. As such, they began having more and more babies, and demographics shifted all over the place. Improved farming led to increased population of cities, as fewer children needed to stay home on the family farm. Leisure time increased, and the concept of vacation destinations blossomed. What do you know about changes in societies following World War II?

In WWII’s wake, new political confrontations took the driver’s seat. Even with Hitler and the Empire of the Rising Sun vanquished, a great unease began rippling the waters. What do you know about the most important national conflicts of the post-WWII era?

It wasn’t all serious stuff. As families learned to have fun again, pop music, dance crazes, fashion and hot rodded cars all molded social life for kids and old folks alike. Take our 1950s history quiz now and see what you really know about this consequential decade!

At the beginning of the 1950s, the world was still grappling with the effects of which event?

World War II officially ended in 1945 but at the start of the ‘50s, its destruction was still evident in many places. By the end of the ‘50s, though, reconstruction was mostly complete.


What was Sputnik 1?

In October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite. Its success terrified Americans, who feared that their Communist foes were suddenly technologically superior.


The USSR’s Sputnik 1 marked the beginning of the _____.

Sputnik 1 was a testament to the Soviets’ technological prowess, and it sent America into an uproar, sparking the Space Race, in which both sides raced to land the first men on the moon.


The Cold War grew hot during the ‘50s. It was essentially a conflict between the United States and ______.

After WWII, a standoff developed between the U.S. and Soviet Union. For decades, the Cold War flared up all around the world, at some points threatening world peace.


Which "boom" lasted from 1946 until the mid-1960s?

After WWII, soldiers returned home and grew their families — the "baby boom" was a major phenomenon all over the world during the 1950s, drastically changing demographics and economies.


Who led a revolution in Cuba in the 1950s?

By 1959, Fidel Castro’s revolution finally grabbed hold of power in Cuba. It established a Communist government near America’s shores, becoming a thorn in the sides of the United States for decades to come.


During the ‘50s, which war turned into a major conflict for the United States?

In 1950, North Korea, backed by Communist allies, invaded South Korea. The United Nations and United States rushed to the scene, and the conflict turned ugly in a hurry.


Why was Rosa Parks arrested in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955?

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white rider ... and the event predictably caused a kerfluffle. Parks eventually became an icon of the Civil Rights movement.


After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, what did black citizens of Montgomery do?

To protest Parks’ arrest (and mistreatment of blacks in general), black citizens boycotted Montgomery’s bus system. For 13 months, the fight dragged on, but ultimately the bus companies were forced to capitulate or go under.


A court case called Brown v. Board of Education addressed which issue?

In the early 1950s, American courts took up Brown v. Board of Education, which argued against the legality of separate (segregated) schools for black and white students. The Supreme Court ultimately decided that schools must desegregate.


Which country gave massive assistance to the Communist North Koreans during the Korean War?

Communist China offered weapons and troops during the Korean War, in part to forward its Communist agenda. The war raged for three bloody years and ended in an uneasy truce.


“Levittowns" were sign of which ‘50s trend?

After WWII, American suburbs boomed. "Levittowns" were large-scale suburban complexes that offered white picket fences and yards, major components of the "American Dream."


During the "Red Scare," what did Americans fear?

After WWII, the Cold War generated fears of Communists and the Soviet Union. During the "Red Scare," Americans basically conducted a witch hunt for Communists, often ruining the lives of decent people all over the country.


What was a "sock hop"?

In the ‘50s, "sock hops" became very popular. They were just informal dances for youth, where the kids often kicked off their shoes and got wild.


The 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951. What issue did this Amendment address?

In 1951, the 22nd Amendment took hold. It establishes a two-term limit for presidents. The country had just previously witnessed its first three-term president in Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Which fashion trend became popular in the ‘50s?

In the ‘50s, women often donned wide skirts featuring images — and those images were often poodles. The "poodle skirt" was all the rage.


Which technology was introduced in 1951?

Color television was a major innovation starting in 1951. But it would be years before many people could afford them ... and before Hollywood really began making color programs.


In April 1956, which artist had a number one hit with "Heartbreak Hotel"?

Elvis was a king of the ‘50s, and in ‘56 he had his first number one hit with "Heartbreak Hotel," which is still one of his trademark tunes.


How were soda fountains important in the ‘50s?

In the '40s and '50s, soda fountains served up frosty cold drinks to people all over the world. In America, espeically, these businesses were places for people to gather and share stories about their days.


The Algerian War was a major conflict in the ‘50s. It featured Algerian fighters against _____.

In 1954, Algerian fighters decided that they wanted their independence from France. The Algerian War featured brutal guerrilla warfare and inhumane crackdowns by the French, and in the end, France was forced to give up its African colony.


In 1952, a Great Smog caused thousands of deaths in which city?

In 1952 combination of terrible pollution and stagnant winds caused the Great Smog in London. There may have been as many as 10,000 deaths from the tragedy.


Why did two men attempt to assassinate President Harry Truman in 1950?

In 1950, two men burst into Truman’s living quarters intending to kill the president. Why? They wanted to strike a blow for Puerto Rico’s independence.


In the 1950s, what were "subversives"?

During the Red Scare of the ‘50s, Americans wrung their hands about "subversives" (Communists) who might infiltrate and wreck the country’s way of life. So politicians stoked the mob mentality and won votes all across the land as they uprooted subversives and their ilk.


Which style of music caught on in the ‘50s?

In the ‘50s, rock ‘n’ roll became a thing, a loud, raucous form of music that’s still evolving today.


Which major business first opened its doors in Anaheim, CA in 1955?

In 1955, Disneyland opened its gaudy doors in Anaheim. Since then, the park has had more than 650 million visitors, but at this point who’s counting?


What was discovered in 1953?

In 1953, scientists discovered DNA, the double helix of genetic material that carries so much of a lifeform’s potential. DNA’s discovery opened many new doors in medical and scientific pursuits all over the world.


Which area became a state in 1959?

The U.S. bought the area from the Russian Empire in 1867, and in 1959, Alaska finally became an official state. As of 2017, it has a population of less than 800,000 people.


Which movie craze took the film industry by storm in the ‘50s?

In the 1950s, the red-and-blue glasses that were the hallmark of 3-D movies became a popular craze. 3-D movies helped to buoy an industry that was suffering from the effects of stay-at-home TV viewing.


The "DMZ" became a part of the culture of America thanks to which event?

The stalemate of the Korean War resulted in a demilitarized zone ("DMZ") between North and South Korea. More than half a century later, the DMZ is still a place of danger and intrigue, although recent peace overtures are changing that.


Which fashion trend was hot with "sweater girls" in the ‘50s?

In the ‘50s, conical bras — those torpedo-shaped undergarments of yore — were a hit with women all over America. Suddenly, it was cool to have oddly-shaped appendages.


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