Life in the Early 1900s

Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1906:

  

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

  

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

  

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. 

  

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars. 

  

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads. 

  

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. 

  

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. 

  

With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union. 

  

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

  

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour. 

  

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year. 

  

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year. 

  

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home. 

  

Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard." 

  

Sugar cost four cents a pound. 

  

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. 

  

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. 

  

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. 

  

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason. 

  

Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: 

  

1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke 

  

The American flag had 45 stars. 

  

Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet. 

  

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30! 

  

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea had not been invented yet. 

  

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day. 

  

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults could not read or write.

  

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. 

  

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then the pharmacist said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

  

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help. 

  

There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

US President: Theodore Roosevelt

US Vice President: Charles W Fairbanks
 

 Most severe earthquake (9 on the Richter scale of one to ten) in US history, followed by fire destroys most of San Francisco's central area. Damage is estimated at about $400 million, and nearly 700 persons are killed.

 President Roosevelt dedicates Devil's Tower, Wyoming, the first national monument.

 

 Jan 1 - Dutch law makes driver's license mandatory 

 

Football rules committee legalizes the forward pass 

 

1st time Dow Jones closes above 100 (100.26) 

 

Reginald Fessenden broadcasts the first radio program of voice and music

 

Thomas Edison invents the "cameraphone," a device that synchronizes a phonograph and a projector for sound motion pictures

 

"Typhoid Mary," a carrier of typhoid fever who has worked as a cook in institutions and private homes, is finally found after 8 years. Although healthy, she is confined by health authorities for 23 years, until her death.

 

Henry Ford organizes Ford Motor Company.

 

The first transcontinental trip by automobile--San Francisco to New York in 52 days.

 

Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer, locates Magnetic North Pole.

 

Ethiopia declared independent in a tripartite pact; country is divided into British, French, and Italian spheres of influence.

 

Finland is the first European country to give women the vote.

 

President Roosevelt sails to the Panama Canal Zone. It is the first time a U.S. president has travelled outside the country while in office. 

 

1906 MILEPOSTS

In The United States

  • Vehicle production: 33,200 passenger and 800 trucks.

  • By this time, an estimated 41,696 cars have been built in accordance with the Selden patent.

  • Vehicles at the Sixth National Automobile Show feature stronger materials. such as chrome-nickel and high-carbon steel.

  • Lighter-weight autos gain popularity, including Marmon with its cast aluminim body.

  • Six-cylinder engines gain favor, with models from Ford, Franklin, Pierce-Arrow, National andStevens-Duryea.

  • Woodrow Wilson (then President of Princeton University) says: "Possession of a motor car is such an ostentatious display of wealth that it will stimulate socialism."

  • Autos show utility as rescue vehicles after the San Francisco earthquake.

  • New York makes a few streets one way. Boston follows suit. Urban planner Daniel Burnham recommends banning traffic from some streets in San Francisco.

  • DeDion-Bouton i.c. vehicles replace horse-drawn buses on Fifth Avenue, New York City.

  • Chicago developer puts up an apartment building with garage space in it.

  • New York Herald warns that cars stir up "primitive emotions."

  • Barney Oldfield says that the hope of seeing someone killed is what really attracts spectators to races on tracks.

  • Early ad directed women: "A contented woman is she who operates a Babcock Electric. She Knows there is nothing to fear."

  • Clarence Young (pseudonym of Howard Garis) ushers the automobile into the world of juvenile literature with The Motor Boys, first of a 22-volume series.

  • Front bumpers, built-in trunks, and storage batteries become common on American production cars.

  • Firestone breaks the rubber industry cartel by signing a contract to make tires for Ford.

  • Influential city planners meet at the Seventh International Conference of Architects, to discuss ways to cope with auto...mobility.

  • Standard Oil warns that depletion of the US oil reserves is imminent.

  • Henry Ford buys out Alexander Malcomson's share, takes over as company president after the death of John S. Gray.

 


US Auto Makers

  • Ford introduced the low-priced 45-mph Model N ($500-600), forerunner of the Model T and produces over 100 per day.

  • Oldsmobile abandons the gas buggy style, curved dash Olds for a Mercedes style car.

  • Buick introduced the storage battery as standard equipment.

  • Stanley Steamer, designed with the help of a wind tunnel, breaks 200 kph but blows up while racing, reinforcing public fears of steamers.

  • Ford's huge, plush, six-cylinder Model K ($2500) is guaranteed to d 60 mph; it will be built through 1908.

  • Production of the Kissel Kar touring begins in Hartford Wisconsin, aimed at the 1907 season.

 

From Around the World

  • Italian mob assaults William Vanderbilt, Jr. after he runs over a peasnat child in Pistoia.

  • British inventor John C. Wood patents triplex shatter-resistant glass.

  • Rolls introduces the 50-hp, six-cylinder Silver Ghost.

  • Germany requires vehicles to yield to the vehicle on the right in intersections. After an international convention two years later, it becomes the norm wherever cars keep to the right.

  • Henard. a Parisian architect, proposes cloverleaf intersections.

  • Michelin begins to sell detailed road maps to French tourists.

  • French Banque Automobile begins to finance car purchases. 

  • French trade union leader P. Coupat, complaining that piecework payments, as opposed to hourly wages. hurt quality, warns: "There. automobile snobs, is the secret behind breakdowns on your trips."

  • First Grand Prix, near Le Mans France, won by Ferenc Szisz, driving 90-hp Renault, averaging 104 kph for 1,232 kilometers. Michelin introduces demountable rims at this race.

  • France makes Louis Renault a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

  • Farina brothers open their design firm at Turin, Italy.

  • Grand Prix driver and bike maker Vincenzo Lancia starts making cars.

  •  Ferdinand Porsche goes to work for Daimler.

  • Directors force Karl Benz, old and resistant to change, out of Benz.

  • Armored, but unarmed, military version of the Ivel tractor appears in England.

  • Napier lists some of its owners in a London ad, including 11 peers, 2 generals, 2 Rothschilds, and a member of the cabinet.

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 1906

US Population..................................................... 85,450,000

Federal spending ............................................... $0.57 billion

Unemployment ...................................................1.7%

DOW Average...................................................... 94.35

 

Average yearly income......................................$879

New Home (median price)...............................$4,500

New Car (average cost)......................................$500

Gas (gallon) .......................................................... 6¢

Stamp.......................................................................2¢

 

Bacon (pound).......................................................20¢

Butter (pound) ..................................................... 30¢

Bread (loaf)............................................................. 5¢

Eggs (dozen) ......................................................... 28¢

Milk (quart) ........................................................... 7¢

Steak (pound) ........................................................15¢ 

Sugar (pound) ....................................................... 6¢

 

NEW IN 1906

 Lifeguards (Sydney Australia)

 Electric Washing Machine

 The Victrola

 Milk Cartons (introduced by G W Maxwell in San Francisco)

 The name "hot dog" (from a cartoon showing a dachshund inside a frankfurter bun)

 Permanent waves (introduced in England at a cost of $1,000, taking 8 to 12 hours)

 Fuller Brush Company (Hartford Conn)

 S.O.S. distress signal (replaced C.Q.D. call adopted two years earlier)

 Mack Truck

ETIQUETTE IN 1906

"Etiquette is protocol, rules of behavior that you memorize and that rarely bend to encompass individual concerns and needs. Manners embrace socially acceptable behavior, of course, but also much more than that. They are an expression of how you treat others when you care about them, their self-esteem, and their feelings."

- Letitia Baldridge's Complete Guide to the New Manners

 

Etiquette in early 20th century North America was centered mostly around gender and the social perception of one's neighbors and acquaintances, and would even delve as specific as the way one would interact through invitations to lunch and dinner invitations. For the purposes of this show, the following excerpts from L.W Sheldon's book 20th Century Guide to Etiquette, which was actually entered according to act of Congress in 1901. These rules in particular apply mostly to the New Rochelle, NY folk; etiquette was considered exclusive and virtually only accessible to upper-middle class families:

 

"The man who loves will study to please his sweetheart. Not for worlds would he offend her with one sign of rudeness. The man who reserves his smiles and graces for women other than his wife is undeserving his position as husband, and she who forgets to offer her husband the delicate attentions which are his due is wholly unfit for her exalted station."

 

"Never introduce two people, unless you know that it is their desire to become acquainted. Always present the gentleman to the lady, never the lady to the gentleman. A gentleman should never offer his hand when introduced to a lady; if, for some reason, the lady wishes to be more gracious in her recognition, the hand may be touched lightly."

 

"True politeness is not a matter of outward accomplishment, it is a grace of the soul, inherent from nature. The Laws of Etiquette are but the regulators of this grace, which conforms it to the code universally understood and accepted."

 

"The true gentleman will always do homage to a woman, if for no other reason than that she is the Mother of the Race, and deserves in the main all the chivalry of his nature. To the young and beautiful woman hi is particularly polite and attentive, showering upon her the homage of eyes and lips to the degree which is compatible with dignity."

 

"The true gentleman will make no advances which he does not feel - he will whisper no vows that he does not intend keeping."

 

"The true woman...[will not] cast her net for promiscuous victims, only to mock their sufferings when her cruel pleasure is ended."

 

"It is by outward appearances that we are first enabled to differentiate between the intelligent and ignorant... we judge from his exterior...where he ranks in the mental, moral, financial and social status, and it is our first impression of him which assists us in forming an estimate of his character."

 

"What others think of you, not what you think of yourself, is the index of your position, and that they should think well of you is perhaps the first end in life which you should strive to accomplish."

 

"In passing, always turn to the right. This is a good rule to follow throughout life's whole pathway."

 

"If a stranger speaks to you, answer him politely. It is time enough to discontinue the conversation when he has proved himself undesirable"

 

"Do not tell your private affairs to those whom you meet... you are pretty sure to bore them."

 

"A gentleman should never escort a lady through the public entrance to a hotel... [she] should be taken through the private entrance and left in the parlor."

 

"Persons who meet at the house of a mutual friend and are not introduced, should never bow or recognize each other when they meet elsewhere. Never introduce two people, unless you know that it is their desire to become acquainted."

 

"Do not volunteer advice and when it is requested, give it sparingly. When a person asks your advice, he usually conceals half of the facts, and consequently places your judgment at a disadvantage."

 

"Do not talk of things that are not interesting to others."

 

"Because you are well-related, you need not be constantly referring to the fact. ... Do not affect and be what you are not. Nothing is so offensive as artificiality of manner."

 

"Keep good company or none. You can always have books if you cannot have people."

BOOKS

Books from the early 1900's were Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Jack London's The Call of the Wild, and Edith Wharton's The Fruit of the Tree.

 

Books that made the bestseller's list from 1900 - 1914 included To Have and To Hold by Mary Johnston, The Crisis by Winston Churchill, The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke, Sandy by Alice Hegan Rice, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

Sources of entertainment between 1900 and 1914 seem limited compared to today.

Baseball

Barbershop quartets were one of the favorite types of music, "Sweet Adeline" was one of the most popular songs of the decade

Nickelodeons were a favorite among men, where one could pay a nickel to see short moving pictures which were often racy.

Radios and hand cranked victrolas became popular during this period

Broadway musicals were very successful 

Ballroom dancing, Vaudeville, and ragtime also became popular during this time period

 

MUSIC

In the 1900s sheet music became easier to print, bringing the cost gradually from $2.00 down to about $.25 as buying the music became more popular. Ragtime became a favorite with the popularity of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." At the same time, jazz became popular in the red light district of New Orleans. At the same time, phonographs and gramophones were beginning to appear in homes across the US. Since electric recording hadn't yet replaced acoustic recording, the musicians had to record their music straight into the recording horn.

 

SONGS

"In My Merry Oldsmobile"

"Come Josephine in My Flying Machine"

"Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home"

"The Darktown Strutters Ball," which shows racial prejudices of this time

FILM MAKING

The 1900's marked the beginning of the new century for movie production. In the 1900's there was a lack of creativity in movie production. The movies consisted of the same themes...people being watched through a keyhole, a man kissing a pretty woman only to wake up in bed next to his wife, and children doctoring a kitten. in the 1900's French films were the best to watch. France was the leading country in movie making, due to quality, and scenery. In 1906 animation was born, but did not grow until 1914 when technology was better. The first motion picture that was made was 15 minutes long. Movies such as "Stop Thief!", and "Fire!" were popular the 1900's. Books were being made into movies, and films. For instance Harriett Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". Ferdinand Zecca made many films in the 1900's, such as "Puss in boots", "Joan of Arc", and "Cinderella." Also in 1914 Hollywood was born, and many movie directors went to the west to produce movies due to the scenery...

 

ON SCREENS AND IN THEATERS

1903- "The Gay Shoe Clerk"

- A kiss on film

- shows an ankle

- flaunts Victorian Period

- "The Great Train Robbery"

- most commercially successful of the pre-Griffith era. 

- realism on film

1905- Nickelodian (nickel theater) opens in Pittsburgh

1908- National Board of Censorship formed to establish uniform guidelines for stste and local sensors

1909- Motion Picture Patents Company pools patent on motion picture equipment and attempts to freeze out competitors

 

 

Jerome Kern- Between 1904 and 1909 had over 50 shows being performed including: "The Great White Way", "Fascinating Flora", "The Orchid", and "The Earl and the Girl"

 

 

Irvin Berlin- Shows included "The Boys and Betty", "The Girl and the Whiz", "The Jolly Bachelors", and "Ziegfield Follies".