Life 101 years ago…

The year is 1909. What would your life have been like? Read on for some amazing facts:

101 years ago:

  • The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
  • Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
  • The average US wage in 1909 was 22 cents an hour.
  • The average US 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 took place at HOME .
  • Ninety percent of all 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 the country for any reason.
  • The Five leading causes of death were:
    1. Pneumonia and influenza
    2. Tuberculosis
    3. Diarrhea
    4. Heart disease
    5. Stroke
  • The American flag had 45 stars.
  • The population of Las Vegas , Nevada , was only 30!!!!
  • Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.
  • There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  • Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and 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 had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!
  • Plus one more sad thought …. 95 percent of the taxes we have now did not exist in 1909.

7 thoughts on “Life 101 years ago…

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Life 101 years ago… | Lehman's Country Life --

  2. Well, I could handle eggs at 14 cents a dozen! When I was young, we took baths in the washtub. Grandma finished raising 9 kids on a farm after my grandfather died of tuberculosis and she didn’t even have a job or food stamps. Times have surely changed.

  3. re: Life 101 Years ago — rather inaccurate. 144 miles of paved roads depends on how you define ‘paved: blacktop, macadam, concrete, oiled & rolled gravel, cobble, brick and on leaving out all the streets in major cities that had been paved. Iced tea HAD been invented; I have recipes for it in several cookbooks from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The ‘five leading causes of death’ (diarrhea should be *dysentery*) somehow leaves out infant and early childhood mortality. Eggs were, and are, sold by the dozen, not by the pound. This would be better categorized as ‘amazing factoids’.

  4. I just couldn’t let that first statistic pass without a comment. I know all history lovers cringe when they see it used as it is misleading for most people. They see it and think all men died by age 47. What this statistic really shows is how few die in their youth today as opposed to the past.

    It is an average in a day when many babies died at birth and of childhood diseases. If you have ten babies born and 5 die before the age of five and five live to be 85, what will the average live expectancy be? If you survived the first 5 years of live, you could reasonably expect to live a long life even as we live today. The main reason the average is so high today is because so few die as young children today.

    I do love these kind of comparisons with life in the past but just can’t let this one item pass without an explanation.

  5. Well, I think life would have been much quieter without so many cars! I see people walking to town and see Italian movies from the 60’s when cars were a luxury and people WALKED. One of my goals for this year is to park my car when I get home and walk to town. I just have to figure out a way so the dog doesn’t try to follow me every time. I think I would have survived and enjoyed life in 1909. I lived out in arizona w/ no running water and only sporadic solar electricy, and it was nice. Can’t tell you how much I miss that old raggedy outhouse : ) It had a nice view and a good breeze.

  6. I can’t believe iced tea wasn’t invented! Tea has been around for centuries and centuries and surely the pleasure of iced tea would have been known 101 years ago. Perhaps not the delicious iced tea we now have but as it’s the simplest drink to make, I would have thought it had been enjoyed in many of the dust bowls of America. Perhaps the green tea mixtures and blooming tea options hadn’t yet caught the eye and taste buds of America. One of the most refreshing drinks ever is iced tea made from green, black and fruity flowers tea and although my brew is from Sydney, Australia, there must be many options in America to rival the one from Down Under! I trust iced tea will be here for next 101 years!! And, if the article and post has made you a little thirsty or nostalgic ….. check my very easy recipe for iced tea at

  7. There WAS iced tea 101 years ago … 150 years ago… the original article was poorly researched. Just check an American cookbook from the Civil War forward in time.