Photography: 98for98 The century in photographs: today 1961

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This photograph shows a group of winkle-picker stilettos in 1961, as we continue with our series of photographs taken from exclusive access to the Hulton Getty Picture Collection.

The winkle-picker stiletto was the latest in teenage fashion. When JF Kennedy became the youngest-ever US president at 43, young'uns found they were brought up sharply into the spheres of political and social responsibilities. JF Kennedy had replaced General Eisenhower, the oldest-ever president at 70, and his inaugural speech stressed "the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans". An early initiative was to form a Peace Corps of young men and women who would work as unpaid volunteers, speaking to local people, learning their language and helping in schools to further what Kennedy called the "great common cause of world development".

A census this year revealed that Britain's population had grown by nearly 2.5 million over the past decade as the result of 2 million more births than deaths. As the population spilled out into the countryside and suburbs, there was a feeling that its growth needed to be stemmed. One step was to make birth control more readily available and by the end of the year a new oral contraception was available on the NHS.

In the world of entertainment, young men were putting the boot in at the Beyond the Fringe theatre revue. "They don't know the meaning of good taste," said one commentator of Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's debunking of religion, the ruling classes, war and politics. In February, Children's Hour, a staple part of BBC radio programmes since 1922, was replaced by extended programming for young listeners, including a Saturday morning feature and a two-hour slot every day.

On 13 June, East Germany closed the Berlin border and blocked it with barbed wire, and began to build the Berlin Wall with prefabricated concrete blocks. But as one frontier closed, another was opened up, when the Soviet Union put the first man into space on 12 March. Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth for 108 minutes. A month later, America had joined the space race with a manned 15-minute sub-orbital flight.

Current Exhibition: `Manipulations', work by Caitlin Harrison. At Crescent Arts, The Crescent, Scarborough, YO11 2PW (01723 374 753).

Jennifer Rodger

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