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Historical Facts: 1900-1920

More people (3% of the world’s population) died in the 1918 influenza pandemic than in both world wars combined. Posted 1/01/2012

Before the First World War, the tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower. Posted 2/01/2013

The First World War saw the first consistently safe blood transfusions. Posted 1/01/2014

The Battle of the Somme, which lasted from July until November, 1916, still remains one of the deadliest battles ever seen: almost half a million British soldiers were killed in this offensive—more even than throughout the course of the Second World War. Posted 5/01/2014

At the beginning of the 20th century, two out of every ten adults couldn't read or write, and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. Posted 9/15/2014

The trend for feathered hats was at its height in popularity from about 1890 to 1920. In the early 1900s, however, the fashion soon reached a point of excess, and the Audubon Society, protesting the slaughter of birds for their feathers, called for an end to the trade of wild birds.  Around the same time, Queen Mary of England publicly denounced the use of feathers in millinery. Posted 5/15/2015

Brittan lost 2/3 of its male population in World War One, and the number was even higher in Germany and France. Posted 5/15/2016

Edwardian butlers were advised that Champagne should be cooled in the following manner: Lay the bottle down in a basin and cover with a handful of broken-up ice.  Sprinkle it with a little salt and cover it with a piece of damp flannel.  Always begin chilling at least two hours before you intend to serve. Posted 1/01/2017

Britain alone lost over 300,000 horses in World War One, which hastened the mechanization of the country. Posted 5/15/2017

In 1911, Cal Rodgers was the first to complete a flight across the U.S.  He flew a Wright brothers biplane called a Vin Fiz Flyer and was accompanied with a ground crew consisting of this mother, a maid, his chauffeur, three mechanics, and a dozen marketing men. Posted 8/15/2017

On August 7, 1908, Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive an automobile from coast-to-coast, rolled into San Francisco.  It took her 59 days to complete the journey. Posted 8/01/2018

After World War One, one-fifth of the land in Scotland came on the market, because there was no one left to inherit. Posted 11/01/2018

Although there were approximately two hundred thousand African American troops serving in World War One, Addie Waites Hutton was one of only three American women of color to serve with the American troops in Europe during the war. Posted 2/01/2019

The first doctor to use incubators for premature babies was the French gynecologist Stéphane Tarnier, who copied the idea from a zoo in Paris in which incubators were used to keep newborn chicks at the right temperature. It occurred to Tarnier that this system could serve to prevent babies from dying of hypothermia in the cold hospitals of the late 19th century. Despite the criticism received by colleagues who, at that time, did not understand that blankets or hot water bottles were not enough to keep the children alive, the obstetrician managed to convince his peers that his invention worked. By the early 20th century, those primitive incubators had been refined by adding individual thermostats and improved ventilation systems. Posted 1/15/2020

The custom of throwing caps inro the air at the conclusion of a graduation ceremony started at the US Naval Academy in 1912. Posted 5/2020

During WWI, British soldiers had to be 19 years old. Over 250,000 lied about their age to serve overseas. The youngest discovered was 12. Posted 11/01/2020


The first box of Crayola crayons is made in 1903 and sold for 5 cents. It contains 8 colors; brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and black. Posted 8/15/2021

In 1916, Nathan Handwerker started his own hot dog stand in Coney Island, using an all-beef recipe developed by his wife, Ida. He charged 5 cents because he wanted his product to be affordable. The public stayed away, reasoning that if it was so cheap maybe it was horse meat! Nathan devised a creative solution: He hired people to stand and eat in front of his place wearing lab coats and stethoscopes. He then posted a sign reading, "If doctors eat our hot dogs, you know they're good!" It was this type of moxie that enabled him to build his stand into a hot dog empire and create a brand name that is recognized around the globe.

Posted 7/15/2022

On March 19, 1911, the first International Women's Day was celebrated across Europe. It was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In Austria-Hungary alone, there were 300 demonstrations, with women parading on the Ringstrasse in Vienna, carrying banners honoring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Across Europe, women demanded the right to vote and to hold public office and protested against employment sex discrimination.

Posted 3/15/2023

The Prancing Horse is the symbol of Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari. Originally, the symbol was used by World War I pilot Francesco Baracca on his airplane. Enzo Ferrari met Francesco Baracca's parents, who told him that their son used to paint a prancing horse on his airplane and suggested that if Ferrari painted the horse on his cars, he would have good luck. Ferrari took their advice and started to use the black Prancing Horse on a yellow background (yellow being one of the colors of the city flag of his native Modena) as the official Ferrari logo. Posted 10/1/2023

At the beginning of the 20th century, Las Vegas, Nevada, had a population of 30. Posted 9/15/2012

In the early 20th century, coal was cheap, about 1 pound a ton, so burning a hundredweight of coal a day was quite the norm, and there were almost no regulations regarding pollution, either. Posted 12/01/2013

Marriage at the turn of the 20th century was the power base from which a woman could take charge of her own life.  Otherwise, she’d be trapped in her father’s home even though she could not claim a single brick of it. Posted 3/15/2014

Before 1914 France’s air corps was larger than all the other air forces in the world put together.  They had three-dozen planes, while Germany, Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan, and Austria had four planes each in their fleets.  The United States only had two planes.  Posted 8/15/2014

Only women who were over 30 and a householder got the right to vote in Britain in 1919, which meant women over 30 still living at home—and most unmarried women lived at home—or women in domestic service did not get the right to vote because they were not householders. Posted 11/01/2014

In 1908 the first Times Square Ball was dropped from the flagpole atop One Times Square.  It was made of wood and iron, weighed 700 pounds, and was lit by a hundred 25-watt bulbs. Posted 1/01/2016

The Navajo Code Talkers of WWII weren’t the first time American forces employed Native American language in war. The Choctaw language was used by American forces in WWI, because Germany intercepted allied messages with ease. The original members came from the Oklahoma National Guard.  Pictured here are Solomon Louis, Mitchell Bobb, Ben Carterby, Robert Taylor, Jeff Nelson, Pete Maytubby, James Edwards, and Calvin Wilson. Posted 11/01/2016

In 1914, Vaudeville was the one field in which women commanded a higher wage than men.  A female headliner could earn as much as three thousand dollars a week or more.  Even a newcomer, however, could earn one hundred dollars a week.  This was an amazing amount of money considering that women’s work in other fields paid significantly less.  In 1917, for example, a teacher might earn fifty dollars a month or just under seven hundred dollars a year. Posted 3/01/2017

In 1917 when the U.S. entered World War One, the U.S. Navy had only 160 nurses on active duty. Posted 1/01/2018

A chemist named Thomas Williams created the first commercial mascara in 1915.  He blended Vaseline and coal dust, first for his sister Mabel, and then marketed it as Maybelline (Mabel and Vaseline.) Posted 10/01/2018

In the winter of 1910, the Tango became the new scandalous dance craze to sweep across America. Posted 12/15/2018

The AMA did not recognize women doctors trained at a women’s college and would not do so until 1915. Posted 3/01/2019

The 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly referred to as the Harlem Hellfighters, was an infantry regiment of the New York Army National Guard during WWI. It consisted mainly of African Americans. The French called the regiment the Men of Bronze. During WWI, the unit spent 191 days in front line trenches. No other American unit ever reached this length of time. They also suffered the most losses of any American regiment, with 1,500 casualties. Posted 2/15/2020

In 1918, Clare Marie Hodges paved the way for future generations when she was hired as the first female ranger for the National Park Service, serving at Yosemite National Park. Posted 3/15/2020

Although Britain entered World War One at the height of its wealth and power, very little of that wealth reached the vast majority of the British people. Malnutrition was so widespread, that of the millions who applied to become soldiers, almost 40% had to be rejected.

Today, the average height of an adult British Caucasian male is about 5’9”. In 1914, their average height was 5’2”, though a member of the upper class stood about 5’6” These findings shamed the government into providing subsidized health care for common people. Posted 6/2020

During World War One, women still had to wear corsets.  After all, you need to support the bust, especially when doing hard manual labor, but you can’t be so restricted that you can’t move.  Most of the VADs and nurses adopted a reform corset, which had boning along the seams and cording to help stiffen it.  They buttoned up the front to make them easier to get in and out of and had adjustable straps.  Most women could do the final tighten by pulling the back lacings themselves.  But remember these women did not live alone--even at the Front they were sharing a tent, so they could help each other out. Posted 11/15/2022

The most decorated dog in history was Sergeant Stubby, who, during World War One, warned his trench mates of poisonous gas attacks and enemy trench raiders.

Posted 5/15/2023

Most thought that all the flapper did was drink cocktails and smoke cigarettes. Others pointed out that while she drove and danced and all the rest, she also went to school in greater numbers than any women before her. Posted 9/15/2023

Madge Syers was a British figure skater who completely changed the sport. In 1902 she competed in the world championship, which was an all-male event. She managed to take home the silver. After the world championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) voted in favor of barring women from the sport. Despite this ruling, Madge still entered into other competitions. The following year she competed in the British championship and came in first place, beating all other competitors, including her husband. Finally, in 1905 the ISU relented and allowed women to officially compete. posted 3/15/2024

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