How Did The Silent Generation Get Its Name?

You might know what generation you belong to, but have you ever wondered why it earned the name it did? According to Pew Charitable Trusts, the naming of generations is not an official process. Instead, a name is adopted by a general consensus usually defined by specific events. 

But what events would shape a generation known as a "silent" one? The moniker is quite different from that of other generations such as Baby Boomers, the Millennials, Gen Z. People born between the years 1928 and 1945 fall into the category of the Silent Generation, per Statista. So how did they get their name?

We may have to go back to an article published in Time to find the answer. The piece ran in 1951, when a person born in 1928 would have been 23. The article states that the "most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence," adding that compared to previous generations, the younger generation was a "still, small flame."

The Silent Generation experienced war and economic hardships

Like every generation, the Silent Generation has its own set of circumstances that helped shape its members' mindsets and behaviors. They grew up during the Great Depression and WWII, and some may have even fought in WWII. It's not surprising, then, to learn that this generation developed a "waste not want not" attitude and worked toward financial security, per the University of Missouri. These unique factors also helped them realize the importance of patriotism, family values, and sacrifice for the greater good. They were also prone to conformity, simplicity, and comfort. 

Despite their name, members of the Silent Generation have not been so quiet over the decades. According to Brookings, they spearheaded many significant societal movements. For example, the civil rights and feminist movements were led by "Silents" Martin Luther King, Jr and Gloria Steinem, respectively. Elvis Presley and the Beatles were also from the Silent Generation. While this generation currently represents only about 6% of the population (via Statista), one of their own holds one of the most important positions in the U.S. — President Joe Biden.