FULKERSON, MRS. ROE. DRIVING MAIL AUTO. P.O. DEPT.
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The automobile was first invented and perfected in Germany and France in the late 1890s. Americans quickly came to dominate the automotive industry after WWI. Throughout this initial era, the development of automotive technology was rapid. Hundreds of small manufacturers competing to gain the world's attention. Key developments included the electric ignition system, independent suspension, and four-wheel brakes. Transmissions and throttle controls were widely adopted and safety glass also made its debut. Henry Ford perfected mass-production techniques, and Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler emerged as the “Big Three” auto companies by the 1920s. Car manufacturers received enormous orders from the military during World War II, and afterward automobile production in the United States, Europe, and Japan soared.
After the end of World War I and until 1929, the onset of the Great Depression, the victorious countries-the United States, Great Britain, and France-entered an era of economic and political prosperity. A mood of optimism and faith in a prosperous future prevailed. World War I led to radical changes in virtually every sphere of life, including fashion. The most important phenomenon of the period is the emancipation of women, made possible by the long struggle of women for their rights, as well as the heavy demographic impact of the war and the Spanish pandemic. Women were gradually integrated into the economy, gaining political rights and the ability to provide for themselves, as a consequence of which women's fashion underwent radical changes to fit the new way of life. Women's clothing became simpler, more comfortable, and the layering of lingerie and corsets was abandoned. Elements that had previously been considered traditionally masculine, such as pantsuits and sportswear, are entering women's fashion.