“A Guiding Factor in My Life”

Teenage Girls and Movies
  • Kelly Schrum
Part of the Girls’ History and Culture book series (GHC)


In the late 1920s, a college sophomore reflected on her movie experiences, “I cannot remember ever having been without a movie house so that this enterprise can be called a guiding factor in my life.” Educators, social scientists, and parents feared this exact response, but the young woman did not explain how movies “guided” her. By the 1920s, teenage girls accepted movies as part of their everyday lives and mentioned them frequently in letters, diaries, and yearbooks. But teenagers, and especially teenage girls, did not always respond in ways prescribed by adults—moviemakers among them. They adapted movies and movie culture to their lives in unique, “teenage” ways.1


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  1. 1.
    This quote comes from a series of motion picture autobiographies collected by sociologist Herbert Blumer in the late 1920s as part of the Payne Fund studies. These previously unpublished autobiographies are reprinted in Garth S. Jowett, Ian C. Jarvie, and Kathryn H. Fuller, Children and the Movies: Media Lnfluence and the Payne Fund Controversy (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), 246.Google Scholar
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© Kelly Schrum 2004

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  • Kelly Schrum

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