Note: Schrum’s primary sources are mainly high school year books, private correspondences, magazines and private diaries.
At the turn of the 20th century there was no such thing as “teenagers” yet in the 1950s they are a major segment of consumer culture. “At the turn of the twentieth century, teenaged girls received little, if any, attention from creators of consumer culture or commercial popular culture and wielded little power as a group – in fact they were rarely recognized as a distinct group” (pg. 1)
“The years before 1944 witnessed the emergence of a teenage market and the development of teenage girls’ culture. Even before 1920, movie fan magazines identified young women as avid moviegoers and consumer of fan culture” (pg. 3).
Historians usually identify the formation of teenage-hood with the post-war period and most research focuses on boys. Teenage boys were the main focus in the discourse on juvenile delinquency but in the consumer world, “girls were the first teenagers” (pg. 4)
“Awareness of high school girls as a distinct market originated with the fashion industry. Local department stores were the first to experiment with teenage sections and with strategies for attracting and selling to high school girls” (pg. 5).
Chapter 1 – Emergence of Teenage Girls
Factors that contributed to the distinction of the teenage years as separate from childhood and adulthood: increasing high school enrollment, increased exposure to peers in a high school setting, rise of leisure activities including movies and fan culture, recognition of high school girls as having separate needs and concerns in magazines and literature.