100 Years of Advancement

I got this note from my uncle about how the much the USA has changed in 100 years. The changes are quite extraordinary. It also illustrates to me how important “cultural receptivity” is to change.

The USA has a culture that is among the most accommodating to change ever in the history of the world. (Renaissance Italy is probably the other society that comes to mind.) And yet many of these changes (listed below) caused powerful ripples throughout our society and culture. For example, women have only been able to vote since 1920 and, even in my childhood in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I recall women being depicted primarily as flibberty-gibbets like Edith Bunker. Depictions like that in popular media today are for comedic affect only because it’s odd to think of a woman as just naturally stupid. Back then, it was the norm. Imagine how hard some of these changes might be to ingrain into other cultures of the world, such as an Islamic culture, where the inferiority of women is a fundamental part of the mindset. For this very reason, I think that some of the actions in the Middle East of the current administration is naive at best and blindingly foolhardy at worst.

So here’s the email:

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine! The year is 1906. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! 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 $2000 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 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.

Women had no right to vote. Wyoming gave women the right to vote in state elections several years before the rest of the nation because it was a frontier state with many men but few women. State legislaters hoped to attract more women to the state.

Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza (The 1918 Influenza epidemic, called the “Spanish Flu” killed tens of millions worldwide.)
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 hadn’t been invented yet.

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

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn’t 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 pharmacists 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.A.!

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