I was wondering if there were hippies or a group with similar worldviews, around 1930 in Chicago or in general in the USA. I would also be interested in their worldview / philosophy. Are they comparable as what they where like in the 70s or today? Maybe also in terms of drugs or literature.

Lexico's definition of hippie:

(especially 1960)
a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

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    What's your definition of a hippie?
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 22:47
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    – MCW
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 22:57
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    By this definition, wouldn't ancient Dionysian Cult Members count at "hippies"? Rather than playing several rounds of No True Scottman on this definition, perhaps it would be better to ask who first self-identified using that word? Or perhaps who was first externally identified using it?
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 23:01
  • If you're referring to the "peace and love" aspect of hippie-ness, those were certainly around in the 30's, though to a considerably smaller degree. The 30's was in between World Wars, so there wasn't a war to protest against, like Vietnam, which was a major factor in the 60's hippie movement. And even before and after, WWI and WWII weren't nearly as unpopular. Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 13:37
  • I was wondering if Bohemianism was still a thing by 1930 in the USA, but it's difficult to find much information about it at that time psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Bohemianism Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 13:34

4 Answers 4



According to Britannica, The etymological roots of the word Hippy derives from the root word "Hip", and the closest thing we have to Hippies in the 1930's would be African Americans that were into the Jive culture, and were known as "Hip".

Britannica encyclopedia

As might be guessed, the word hippie is derived from the word hip, which conveys being up-to-date and fashionable. This meaning of hip is thought to have originated with African Americans during the Jive Era of the 1930s and '40s.


The Hipster culture largely grew out of illegal speakeasies during the prohibition period of the 1920's that offered illicit nightclub culture and illegal alcohol, and paved the way for some of the greatest known Jazz musicians of our time.


While jazz music predated Prohibition, the new federal law restricting liquor advanced the future of jazz by creating a nationwide underground nightclub culture in the 1920s. This competitive club culture had mobsters such as Al and Ralph Capone of Chicago and Owney Madden of New York vying for the best performers for their drink-swilling customers. That culture advanced the careers of major jazz performers such as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke and jazz itself as an art form. It also would lead to millions in profits for organized crime bosses.

Prohibition forced tens of thousands of saloons throughout the country to shut down, but the demand for drink remained, and thousands of illegal bars, or speakeasies, soon opened. Gangsters, who manufactured or transported liquor in violation of the federal Volstead Act, supplied the liquor, owned the speakeasies, or both. At first some speakeasy owners offered live music by bands linked to vaudeville stage acts. But jazz was a better fit for the era’s party mood. Bar owners soon were hiring small jazz bands with local players to furnish background or dance music.

Were there hippies in the USA in 1930?

Not quite, but there was an illicit Jazz culture during prohibition that would later become the sub-culture of the 1930's Hipster that would later morph into the Hippie culture of the 1960's.

  • Though, also, apparently, currently "hipster" is a pejorative used by 20-somethings to refer to allegedly delusional over-the-hill 30-somethings. :) Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 0:04
  • "that would later morph into the Hippie culture of the 1960's" -- You left this part uncited, and I'm not so sure it's correct. Hippies grew out of campus culture, not hipster culture. Do you have any authoritative source who demonstrates otherwise?
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 17:12

The 1930s* was not an ideal decade to become a "hippie," i.e., to pursue a bohemian lifestyle.

A high tide of leisure, power, and affluence - think late 1950s-60s, mid-80s - is more conducive to forming and sustaining "hippie" subcultures. It takes all three to support a full lifestyle of exploring alternate sexual options, religious byways, etc., and courting a permanent FBI file for subversive political activity. A person needs "me time" to really embark on hippiedom, and the 30s had a shortage of that.

However, the folks who rode the 30s rails might have something in your line:

(Both are cited in the Wikipedia entry on "Hoboes.") With that many teens on the rails, there were bound to be some hippieish shenanigans.


While hippies as we traditionally see them didn't exist in the same manner back in the 1930s, the precursors to the hippie movement were around back then. The Lebensreform movement which started in the early 19th century and gained traction in the early 20th century was around and acted as a reform movement that adopted organic farming, a vegetarian diet, and naturopathy. One of the prophets of the movement was Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach - a social reformer and anarchist. During the 1930s, many German migrants part of this movement moved to the United States which helped to influence the hippies.

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    Unfortunately, the 1st and 3rd links don't work for me. Not sure if anyone else who has the same problem... Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 14:20
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    @LarsBosteen Sorry about that. Just in case, added more links that I know work.
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 14:23

No, and the answer is that the 1930s and the "1960s" (actually from about 1965-1975) were diametrically opposite types of time periods in American history. This came about because they followed periods of (different types of) excess in the 1920s and 1950s.

The 1920s were a period of "overfarming" in American history. This was literally true in the creation of the 1930s "Dust Bowl" by new farming methods e.g. tractors) introduced in the 1930s, and also the "figurative" overfarming in industry technology, and finance that led to an industrial and stock market crashes of the 1930s. The resulting (and historically bad) "hard times" forced people to worry about survival. "Worldview/philosophy...drugs or literature" were the last things of people's minds in the 1930s, although some "sad" types of music, such as "blues" and "jazz" were popular.

The 1950s created a different kind of excess; of prosperity and abundance; an economic and demographic "baby" boom, following the victory in World War II. this was also the era of conformity, spurred by "McCarthyism. Things were "too" quasi-military and orderly (by historical standards). Young people sought solace in a "rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs." Boys, especially, wore long hair to distinguish themselves from their fathers, the clean-cut short haired veterans or World War II.

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