The US One Century Ago – Statistically

statistics 100 years agoThat was interesting! I ran into some statistics that somebody had collected with the intend to awe us all when we compare these numbers with the numbers of today.

The most intriguing aspect of these numbers is to try to interpolate what we will see in the days of 100 years from now. Looking at Ray Kurzweil’s Book ‘The Singularity is Near’, we can safely assume that the speed of development will increase. Mr. Kurzweil even expect the speed to increase exponentially.

When I look over only my own lifetime I have to admit that that assumption makes sense, but this also means that I don’t have a chance in the world to predict how our world will look in one hundred years.

Now, in order to bend your mind a bit, here are the statistics from 1907:

  • The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years old.
  • 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.
  • 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 made $2,500 per year, a veterinarian $1,500 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.”)
  • 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 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.”
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.

What struck me as notable was the fact that hundred years ago 20% of the adult US population could not read or write. Looking at todays numbers that was pretty good, even though we are supposed to come to the opposite conclusion.

I found the following quote:

According to a recent US government report, The State of Literacy in America, released by the National Institute for Literacy (NIL), there has been a significant growth in illiteracy in America. Over 90 million US adults, nearly one out of two, are functionally illiterate or near illiterate, without the minimum skills required in a modern society.