In 1905

The president in 1905

Theodore Roosevelt was president. Two out of ten US adults could not read or write. The average life expectancy in the US in 1905 was 47 years, with the five leading causes of death being Pneumonia and Influenza, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart disease, and Stroke. More than 95 percent of all births in the US took place at home.

Only 14% of the homes in the US had a bathtub. Only 8% of the homes had a telephone, and to call long distance was not affordable for the average person. For example, a three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00. Since the average worker in the US made $862.00 a year, it was more economical to buy a 2 cents postage stamp and write a letter. Groceries were more reasonably priced then, with sugar costing an average of 4 cents a pound, eggs 14 cents a dozen, bread 4 cents a loaf, and coffee was 15 cents a pound.

Sketch of man hand-cranking his carCars cost $500.00, but there were only 8,000 cars in the whole United States, and only 144 miles of paved roads on which to drive them. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph, which was likely fast enough to shake one's teeth on the unpaved dirt roads. Gasoline to run the car cost 6 cents per gallon.

Victrola with a large-horn speaker
News was gathered from newspapers or word of mouth, since the old crystal radio sets did not come into widespread use until about 1920, and of course there were no television sets. Music was either heard live, or by playing thick, flat disks, similar to later 78 RPM records, on a windup Victrola. The 1905 style word processor was a black, upright manual typewriter, probably an Underwood. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower. The future states of Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska had not been admitted to the Union, so the American flag had only 45 stars.

—JoAnn Huskey