5 Crazy Facts You Probably Don’t Know About American Life 100 Years Ago

When one says history, a lot of things come to mind. For instance, the wars, politics, the culture, and all the serious stuff. We learn about these things in school; we spend years studying them.

So now it’s time that we dive into the small and often taken for granted facts and small trinkets of history 100 or so years ago.

1. Fuel for cars was only sold in drug stores

In 1885, Karl Benz invented the first automobile that was powered by gasoline. It had only three wheels and was called Benz Patent-Motorwagen.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Three years after the automobile’s invention, Bertha Benz, Karl’s wife took the Motorwagen to a road trip. It was an over 60-mile round trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim in order to showcase the automobile.

Along the way, she purchased fuel by purchasing benzene from pharmacies. Gasoline stations, as we know them now, hadn’t been invented yet.

2. One out of every 5 adults could not read or write

Today’s literacy is different from a hundred or so years ago. The materials and resources we have now are a lot better than what people who live then had.

Source: Pixabay

In 1870, 20 percent of people were unable to read and write; today it is down to 14.9 percent.

The fact that only six percent of Americans graduated from high school may have contributed to widespread illiteracy.

3. The population of Las Vegas was only 25

The earliest visitors to Las Vegas were nomadic Paleo-Indians who traveled there when they left behind petroglyphs.

During the year 1900, believe it or not, Las Vegas only a population of 25.

Source: Pixabay

By 2015, 115 years later, the population had risen to to 623,747.

4. An average US female worker made around $300 a year

In 1915, about 2 years after the income tax came to the scene and took a cut from salaries, an average male worker in the US made about $687 a year.

Source: Pixabay

On the other hand, being a woman was quite difficult during those times. An average female worker in 1915 only made about $6 a week or just $312 a year.

5. Before the 1920s or so, women gave birth at home

A hundred years ago, the U.S. did not have the same number of hospitals that it has now. In reality, hospitals were reserved for severe cases of diseases only.

Source: Pixabay

Only in the 1920s did the hospitals start to market to women, and the pitch was absurd like the women are having a vacation or something, “It’s a kind of break. Come rest for a week, have your baby, and you don’t have to take care of the family for a few days.”


Aren’t these facts a little refreshing compared to our history class?


Image via Pixabay.