Search form

Celebrate the Century: Search the Web for U.S. History of the 1970s

faowSearch the Web to learn more about the stories behind the stamps that commemorate the people, places, events, and trends of the 1970s. Explore Web sites related to disco, women's rights, jumbo jets, and more! Included: An Internet scavenger hunt for students!

Last November (1999), the U.S. Postal Service introduced 15 new stamps commemorating some of the most memorable trends and triumphs of the 1970s.

"The 1970s was a very colorful and memorable decade for this country," said James C. Tolbert Jr., executive director of stamp services for the U.S. Postal Service, as he dedicated the new stamps during a ceremony held in New York City. "Stamps take us back in time and help us relive moments in the past that we cherish. Beginning today, Americans around the nation will be able to capture those cherished memories of the 1970s through the issuance of these new Celebrate the Century stamps!"

Those stamps, representing the disco decade, are part of the Postal Service's Celebrate the Century program.


In the 1970s, the United States celebrated its 200-year history and made a commitment to protect the environment. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 for all elections. Gender-based discrimination was prohibited, and a woman's right to have an abortion was defined. As a result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Jumbo jets doubled airplane passenger capacity, and the federal government instituted the first national speed limit, 55 mph, to conserve energy during the 1973 oil embargo. Fiber optics advanced communications technology, and international direct-dial telephone calls became a reality. Ultrasound, CAT scans, and MRIs revolutionized medical imaging.

Sesame Street educated children, Monday Night Football entertained sports fans, and All in the Family introduced viewing audiences to a new kind of TV series. Viewers taped shows with VCRs, and some Americans caught disco fever.

New words: junk food, slam dunk, and miniseries.


The curtain rises on the 15 stamps commemorating the 1970s. The scavenger hunt activity that follows will engage students in exploring Web sites as they search for information related to ten of the 1970s stamps. For each stamp, we pose a question and provide a Web site URL. Challenge students to use the listed Web sites to answer all ten questions. Click here for the answers to the questions.

Be sure to check out other stories in Education World's Celebrate the Century series:


During the 1970s, the yellow smiley face became an omnipresent symbol of happiness and good cheer. This perky design appealed to all ages and appeared on everything from buttons and cookie jars to neckties and sleeping bags.

Question 1:
What popular, four-word phrase is often associated with the smiley face?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Smiley Face Web page on the Encarta Encyclopedia Web site.


Created for public TV by Children's Television Workshop, Sesame Street revolutionized children's TV by combining entertainment and education. Today, the show continues to help children worldwide learn about letters, numbers, and getting along with others.

Question 2:
What song did singer Gloria Estefan perform when she visited Sesame Street?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, click on the Stars on the Street button on the Sesame Street Central Web page.


Powered by strong beats on records spun by disc jockeys, disco music got Americans dancing in the 1970s. Dressed up in polyester and silk, people boogied at nightclubs beneath colored strobe lights and mirrored balls.

Question 3:
Which 1970s movie helped popularize disco music and disco dancing?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Disco Web page on the Encarta Web site.


People celebrated the first nationwide Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Organizers led marches, made speeches, and set up planting and cleanup projects to raise awareness of environmental issues. Today, Earth Day continues to promote conservation efforts and encourage respect for Earth.

Question 4:
The first Earth Day inspired the U.S. Congress to pass several environmental acts into law. What three well-known acts did Congress pass?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Earth Day Network Web site. Click on the About Us bar and then on How It All Began.


The women's rights movement mobilized to secure women's equality, their political and economic empowerment, and respect for their human rights. The United Nations Development Fund (UNIFEM) promoted those efforts worldwide.

Question 5:
One milestone in the women's rights movement occurred in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed a woman to his cabinet. Who did he appointed as his secretary of labor?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Susan B. Anthony University Center Web page. You'll find the answer to the question in the History of Women's Suffrage pages.


In 1972, two-year-old Secretariat won Horse of the Year honors. In 1973, he won the coveted Triple Crown, including the only less-than-two-minutes Kentucky Derby victory and a 31-length Belmont Stakes triumph.

Question 6:
Which jockey rode Secretariat in the three races of the Triple Crown?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Encarta Encyclopedia Home Page and use its search engine. Type Secretariat into the search engine.


In 1970, Boeing introduced the world's first jumbo jet. The state-of-the-art airplane greatly increased passenger capacity and flew some 6,000 miles without refueling, allowing for more convenient international travel.

Question 7:
Boeing produced the first jumbo jet -- the Boeing 747-100 -- in 1970. Over the years, how many different 747 models has Boeing built?

The Web site:
Find the answer to that question on the Boeing 747 -- Celebrating the Past Web page.


Videocassette recorders (VCRs) for home use took off with the introduction of Betamax and Video Home System (VHS) machines in the 1970s. VCR users could watch movies at home and record TV programs for later viewing.

Question 8:
Sony introduced the first inexpensive VCR in 1969. When was the VHS format -- the format of most videos today -- first introduced?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the How Stuff Works Web site and type VCR into the site's search engine.


Medical imaging techniques advanced significantly with the development of ultrasound, CAT scans, and MRI technology. Those noninvasive procedures improved doctors' ability to see inside the human body.

Question 9:
A CAT scan machine is shaped like a doughnut. How is an MRI machine shaped?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Lab Tests -- Imaging and Scanning Tests page of the Web site.


Launched March 1972, Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and send back data and images. Eleven years later, it became the first human-made object to leave the solar system.

Question 10:
How far from Earth is Pioneer 10 today?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, go to the Pioneer Home Page on NASA's Web site.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2000 Education World

Related Articles from Education World

Please check out our other articles this week: