Outdoor Literature


Generations in US History






Generations in American History (Modern Age of Adventure)


Transcendental (b. 1792-1821).  Idealist Type.  Leaders during civil war.  Rapid expansion of evangelical religion.  Great interest among the literati in transcendental philosophy.  Examples: Abraham Lincoln, Brigham Young, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau (pp. 195-205).

Gilded (b. 1822-1842).  Reactive Type.  Soldiers in Civil War.  Came of age in era economic swings.  Pragmatic and a bit jaded.  Defined today's image of the western:  youthful 49's, Pony Express Riders, ranchers, cowboys, Indian fighters.  Examples:  Mark Twain, Wild Bill Hickok, George Custer (pp. 206-216).

Progressive (b. 1843-1859).  Adaptive Type.  Children during Civil War.  Good organizers.  Founded many enduring fraternal, labor, academic and professional organizations.  Examples:  Thomas Edison, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt (pp. 217-232).

Missionary (b. 1860-1882).  Idealist Type.  Sparked the greatest wave of campus rebellions since the 1830s.  Boom era for youthful outdoor sports: golf, tennis, roller skating and bicycling.  Women reinvented bloomers (called "rationals" for bicycle riding.  Went at life with a missionary zeal: social reformers and moral pathfinders.  The Missionary Generation fought for and obtained a woman's right to vote and also passed prohibition amendment.  Examples: Upton Sinclair, Frank Lloyd Wright, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein (pp. 233-246)

Lost (b. 1883-1900).  Reactive Type.  Soldiers of World War I.  Spawned the "Roaring Twenties" and the "Jazz Age."  Morals were looser.  Crime soared.  Era of prohibition: bootlegging and speak easies.  Examples:  Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald (pp. 247-260).

GI (b. 1901-1924).  Civic Type.  Soldiers of World War II.  A heroic generation.  Tom Brokaw has called them the "Greatest Generation."  Won the war and built America into a world power.  Examples:  John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, John Steinbeck (pp. 261-278).

Silent (b. 1925-1942).  Adaptive Type.  Minimized risk.  Security was of overriding importance.  Would rather work for large corporations.  This generation produced presidential aides but no presidents.  They found themselves between the get-it-done GI's and self-absorbed Boomers.  A number of first wavers saw action in WWII, but few saw action before being sent home.  Their war was the Korean War—and when most people think of the Korean War, they think of the TV series "Mash."  Examples:  Marilyn Monroe, Woody Allen, Michael Dukakis, Jesse Jackson (pp. 279-294).

Boom (b. 1943-1960).  Idealist Type.  Generation of antiwar protests, of free love, and the "Consciousness Revolution."  Spiritualism was more important than science.  Not interested in conforming with what they called the "Establishment."  Gratification now generation.  "Me" generation.  "Now" generation.  Changed from Beaver Cleaver (in their childhood) to hippie to bran-eater to yuppie to what some have called neo-puritans.  Later in life they migrated out of mainline established churches to New Age and evangelical sects.  Church attendance rose.  SAT scores slipped.  Crime and violence increased.  Examples:  David Letterman, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush.

Generation X (b. 1961-1981).[10]  Reactive Type.  Edgy (to use a Gen-X term).  Cynical since they've had to deal with the passionate excesses of the Boom Generation.  In rising adulthood, they were often criticized for living with parents as long as they could.  Sometimes called "Slackers."  One report on Gen-X education was titled "Rising Tide of Mediocrity."  But this generation slowed and reversed declines in the SAT scores and crime rates.  A very practical generation.  They had to make it on their own.  Examples:  Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com),  Lance Armstrong, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jordan.

Millennial (b. 1982-2002).  Civic Type.  William Strauss and Neil Howe in Millennials Rising call this "The Next Great Generation."   Optimistic.  Cooperative team players.  Accept authority.  Rule followers.  Value learning.  Aptitude test scores rise.  Believe in the future and see themselves on the cutting edge.   Examples: Mark Zuckerberg, Prince William, LeBron James.


Next Generation?  (b. 2003 - ) Adaptive Type?  No accepted name yet.  Some writers and researchers have used the following to identify this generation:  iGeneration, Net Generation, Internet Generation, Generation Z







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