Time Line of History

1900-1920

© Linda Haas Davenport

 

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1900: Hurricane ravages Galveston, TX - 6,000 drowned. May 1st Scofiled Utah, explosion of blasting powder in a coal mine killed 200. Jun 30th Hoboken NJ piers of North German Lloyd Steamship line burned leaving 326 dead. Eastman Kodak introduced the Brownie Box Camera thus making amateur photography popular. Cost $1.00 and a six exposure roll of film was 15. Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams. William McKinley elected for 2nd term as President. Life expectancy at birth averaged 48 years for whites and 33 years for blacks. Tiffany lamps, precursors of art nouveau, adorned posh homes that had electric lighting. L. Frank Baum writes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, an allegory of Populist politics. Congress passes the Gold Standard Act; currency will be backed by gold reserves.

1901: As President McKinley began his 2nd term, he was shot fatally by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as his successor. Norwegian Johan Vaaler patented the Paper Clip in the US. Guglielmo Marconi of Italy, who in 1895 proved that radio signals could be sent without wires, sent the first radio signal across the Atlantic Ocean. A new Alabama constitution typical of the era serves to disenfranchise blacks. Carry A. Nation began her hatchet-wielding prohibition crusade.

1902: Enrico Caruso's first gramophone recording. Barnum's Animal Crackers were introduced by the National Biscuit Co. Army field uniforms change from Yankee Blue to olive drab.

1903: Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, fly first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk NC. Henry Ford organized Ford Motor Company. Dec 30th fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago killed 602 people. Aug 7th Eden, CO a train derailed on a bridge during a flash flood killing 96. King Gillette created the first safety razor. Thomas Edison produced an important early motion picture The Great Train Robbery. President Roosevelt designates Pelican Island, FL as the first national wildlife refuge.

1904: Able Doumar, a Lebanese immigrant, invented the ice cream cone at the world's fair in St. Louis MO when he rolled a waffle from one stall and put ice cream in it from another stall and sold the combination. Theodore Roosevelt elected President. Teddy bears named for President Roosevelt, become cherished toys. Other products born in this era were Crayola crayons and Jello. The Northern Securities railroad monopoly is the first trust to be busted by President Roosevelt.

1905: Albert Einstein announces his special theory of relativity and other key theories in physics. New York City's Institute of Musical Art - later the Julliard School - is founded. Bird fanciers form the national Aubudon Society. Industrial workers of the world formed "One big Union" behind Big Bill Haywood. Later known as Wobblies, they staged parades and sang Joe Hill's anthems of labor discontent. First Nickelodeon opened in Pittsburgh, PA. Such theaters, showing a film program for only 5 cents soon became popular. Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, a fictional journey through the Chicago Stockyards and included this ditty; Mary had a little lamb,/And when she saw it sicken,/ She shipped it off to Packingtown,/ And now it's labeled chicken". The Jungle nauseated the country with revelations of the rancid beef and tubercular pork destined for its dinner tables. Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906. Upton, a socialist, had meant to provoke sympathy for the immigrants who toiled and died in the slaughterhouses. "I aimed at the public's heart" he wrote, "and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

1906: San Francisco earthquake and three-day fire leave 500 dead. William Joseph Seymour building on the early work of Charles Fox Parham made popular the Pentecostal religion which today has more members than Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians combined.

1907: Financial panic in US. Oklahoma became the 46th state to join the Union (Nov 16, 1907) settled 1889. Dec 6th Monongha, WV coal mine explosion killed 361 and Dec 19th coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek PA left 239 dead. Plastic is invented by Leo Baekeland of Belgian. Immigration peaks at 1.2 million. Most newcomers hail from southern or eastern Europe.

1908: Supreme Court, in the Danbury Hatter's case, outlaws secondary union boycotts. Henry Ford's Model T car went on sale for $850. William Taft elected President. Singer Tower joined Manhattan's skyline, rising 47 stories above Broadway. Across America urbanites and architects were looking up. Sixty-inch telescope, the world's largest, is built at California's Mount Wilson Observatory. Grand Canyon National Monument is dedicated.

1909: North Pole reached by Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson. The National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) was founded in New York. Hurricane hits LA and MS leaving 350 dead. Nov 13th coal mine explosion in Cherry, IL killed 259. Chlorine first added to public drinking water. Instant Coffee hits the market. Abraham Lincoln's profile replaces the Indian head on US pennies.

1910: 1st Newsreel, by Pathe Freres of Paris, circulated a weekly issue of their Pathe Journal. Boy Scouts of America and Campfire Girls were incorporated. Mar 1st Wellington WA two trains were swept into a canyon by an avalanche 96 deaths. Among those credited with making electric washing machines around 1910 was Alva J. Fisher. An early ad for a GE washer read: "If every father did the family washing next Monday, there would be an electric washing machine in every home by Saturday night." Hotpoint introduced the electric range. French scientist named Georges Claude applied an electrical charge to a tube filled with neon gas and created the Neon light.

1911: First use of aircraft in a war (the Turkish-Italian War). Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York killed 145 workers. Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band changed American's music. Sherman Antitrust Act is used to dissolve American Tobacco, Standard Oil monopolies. First airplane pilot's license issued to Glenn H. Curtiss. Calbraith Rodgers is the first pilot to wing solo across North America - in 49 days. "Bright Path" was his tribal name. Most knew him as Jim Thorpe, whose 4 field goals and 70-yard touchdown run for Carlisle Indian School left top-ranked Harvard crimson-faced. The "Georgia Peach", Ty Cobb, hit .320 for the Detroit Tigers.

1912: The Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage over 1,500 drown. New Mexico became the 47th state to join the Union (Jan 6, 1912) settled 1610. Arizona became the 48th (Feb 14, 1912) settled 1776. Vitamins were offered by scientists Frederick Hopkins and Casimir Funk. Woodrow Wilson elected President. Massachusetts pioneers a minimum wage law for women and children in private industry. Democrats win congressional control for the first time in 18 years. The "Fox-Trot" inspired by ragtime music, hit ballroom floors. Soon Americans added the bunny hop, turkey trot and grizzly bear to the dance menagerie.

1913: Suffragettes demonstrate in London. Garment workers strike in New York and Boston win pay raise and shorter hours. 16th Amendment (income tax) and the 17th (popular election of US Senators) were adopted. Bill creating US Federal Reserve System became Law. Woodrow Wilson becomes 28th President. Coal mine explosion Oct 22nd in Dawson NM left 263 dead. Swedish immigrant Gideon Sundback at Universal Fastener Co in Pennsylvania invents the zipper. BF Goodrich first used the word "zipper" to describe the invention when referring to the fasteners on a pair of its galoshes. Ludlow Massacre: Colorado militia fired on striking coal miners, killing 21 people, including 11 children and 3 women. Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne were artists labeled "the lunatic fringe" by Theodore Roosevelt. Parcel Post delivery begins.

1914: World War I began. Panama Canal officially opened. Congress sat up Federal Trade Commission; passed the Clayton Antitrust Act. US Marines were in Veracruz, Mexico, intervening in their civil war to protect American interests. Margaret Sanger (a nurse and the 6th of 11 children) published The Woman Rebel, an exhortation for women to challenge the pro-conception climate of the day. Facing obscenity charges she fled to England only to return and establish, in 1916, the first birth control clinic. It only lasted 9 days before the police raided it and closed it down. Undeterred she continued to preach the gospel of birth control and finally in 1923 established a birth control clinic that was left alone by authorities. Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York City debutante patented the brassier. Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, are popularized in a lumber company's pamphlet.

1915: Hurricane hits East TX and LA leaving 275 dead. "Great White Hope" Jess Willard takes the heavyweight title by a knockout.

1916: Tom Mooney arrested for San Francisco bombing. US Buys Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million. President Wilson was re-elected. "Black Tom" explosion at munitions dock in Jersey City, NJ produced $40 million in damages. Margaret Sanger opened first birth control clinic. Nationwide over 7,000 deaths were reported due to Polio (infantile paralysis) and 27,363 cases were reported. Worst polio epidemic in the US. (the 2nd worst Polio epidemic was 1949 which caused 2,720 deaths and 42,173 cases were reported. And the 3rd as in 1952 which killed 3,300 with 57,628 cases reported). US Rubber Co launched the "sneakers" boom with their introduction of "Keds" shoes with a canvas upper and rubber soles. The Saturday Evening Post runs Norman Rockwell's first cover illustration. Mr. Peanut, a schoolboy's wining contest entry, became the symbol for Planter's Nut & Chocolate Company. Montana sends Jeannette Rankin to Congress; most states still deny women the vote.

1917: US entered WWI and sends the first troops to France. Apr 10th Eddystone, PA explosion in munitions plant killed 133. The Jones Act grants US citizenship to Puerto Ricans.

1918: WWI Ends. World wide influenza epidemic strikes and by its end in 1920 over 20 million people were dead. 500,000 perished in the US due to the epidemic. Jul 9 Near Nashville TN 101 people killed in a two-train collision. Nov 1st a derailment of a subway train in Malbone St tunnel in Brooklyn left 92 dead.

1919: 18th Amendment adopted (Prohibition). Hurricane hits FL, LA and TX leaving 287 dead and 344 deaths at sea

1920: 19th Amendment ratified (Women's suffrage). Warren G. Harding elected President. The US population reached 106 million.

 

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