1913 Red Cross Shoe Advertisement

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, November 12, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this afternoon.

1913-11-47.b

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma–

Why did you go to Watsontown? . . . shopping? . . . running an errand for your dad? . . . having your second experience with banking? . . .

Was it a cold 1 1/2 mile walk? It soon will be winter. I hope that you were wearing  Red Cross Shoes and that every step was an utter comfort.

1913 Teddy Bear Ad

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, November 8, 1913:  Nothing much to write.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a fun advertisement I came across.

Africa in 1913 – Victoria Falls

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, October 23, 1913:

10/20 – 10/24: It’s been so rainy and dreary this week that I begin to feel awful grouchy. I certainly am under the weather these days. Any way October never was a favorite month of mine. I don’t have much to write about for her.

 Victoria Falls (Source: A Woman's Winter in Africa)

Victoria Falls (Source: A Woman’s Winter in Africa, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yesterday, I shared some excerpts from a 1913 book called A Woman’s Winter in Africa: A 26,000 Mile Journey by Charlotte Cameron  Since Grandma didn’t write a separate diary entry for this date I’m going to share some more from the book. I’m still amazed at how adventuresome some women were a hundred years ago.

Here’s some quotes from the chapters about Mrs. Cameron’s visit to Victoria Falls. The falls are located on the Zambezi River at the border between what is now  Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In a short time the train stops in a sort of wood. A small tin station stands close by—and a big white wooden signboard spells: “Victoria Falls.”

victoria.falls.1Five minutes’ walk under trees, and through pretty gardens which, have large whitewashed stones round the flower-beds brought me to the Victoria Falls Hotel. After registering I passed through the hall  to the verandah.

A beautiful view greats you as you look down two great gorges covered with fresh trees and kept ever verdant by the ceaseless spring. Victoria Bridge, 600 , foot  high, with a cantilever span of 500 feet, is the loftiest bridge in the world, and in the blue distance resembles filigree work I take a hasty breakfast feeling I must lose no time before seeing the Falls. I set off, camera, sunshade, and notebook in hand.

Victoria.falls.3

The managing clerk accompanies me to the end of the verandah. “Don’t you think I should have a guide?” I inquire. “Oh, no it’s not necessary,” he responds. “The paths are well laid out, as you will see by the signboards.”

In all the hotel advertisements one reads that the Falls are only a few minutes away. This is quite deceptive. After half an hour’s walk over a rather rough road you come to Victoria Bridge. All along the approach the roar of the Falls increased its thunder; but even so you are totally unprepared for the scene that opens before you?

Everywhere are wonderful trees, crystallized into eternal freshness by the mist They crown and decorate well-worn pinnacles of rocks. They you stand on Victoria Bridge. To the left and far below is the dark brown water, churning in what is called the Boiling Pot. The water rushes in, swirls, runs about in impotent anger, having been hurled over a precipice, down 400 feet, and into this maze from which there is no outlet. At last, however, it rushes under the bridge, flows with loud protest, hissing over rocks, and wends its way through deep and narrow channels to its natural bed.

According to Wikipedia the bridge was constructed in 1904-05. I’m continually amazed at how many technological wonders are more than one hundred years old.

Africa in 1913–Lagos, Nigeria

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 22, 1913:

10/20 – 10/24: It’s been so rainy and dreary this week that I begin to feel awful grouchy. I certainly am under the weather these days. Any way October never was a favorite month of mine. I don’t have much to write about for her.

Lagos, Nigeria (Source: A Woman's Winter in Africa, 1913)

Lagos, Nigeria (Source: A Woman’s Winter in Africa, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This is the third of five days that Grandma combined into one diary entry.  Sometimes her world seems so small. In the nearly three  years that I’ve been posting the diary, she seldom traveled more than five miles from her home—and the longest trip she took was a train trip which took her about 15 miles so that she could visit relatives who lived  in the next county.

The world was a much bigger place a hundred years ago for a few fortunate women. For example,  Charlotte Cameron was a wealthy, English woman who traveled to interesting places and wrote books about her adventures   In 1913 she published A Woman’s Winter in Africa: A 26,000 Mile Journey.

Mrs. Cameron went around the entire circumference of Africa. She visited many port cities—and from time to time took train trips inland.

charlotte.cameron

In 1913, the colonial era was at its peak in Africa; and Mrs. Cameron visited Europeans who worked at many of the colonial outposts. She also sought to understand African culture—and sometimes framed things differently than we would today.

I was surprised how modern some of the areas were. Here’s a few excerpts from the chapter on her visit to Lagos, Nigeria:

Lagos is extremely modern,  and am enjoying all the advantages of an up-to-date town. In 1898 electric light was introduced.

The European population consists of some 572 males and 36 females, while the natives number from 70,000 to 80,000. As the town is situated only five degrees north of the Equator, the heat may be imagined. Climatically it is very moist, with much fever, and English ladies as a rule do not remain more than six months or a year.

The town of Lagos covers over two square miles, and there are innumerable streets, especially in the crowed native town. Never shall I forget visiting the bazaars. Medleys of colour greet the eye on every side. Old and young, rich and poor, are struggling for existence—a colony of tribes, speaking a multitude of languages and dialects.

Through the labyrinthine windings I strolled. Most of the buildings are in corrugated iron, but some of bamboo, with palm-thatched roofs, while reed curtains and matting exclude the inquisitive sun and prevent it damaging the wards. Yams find constant purchases, and calabashes are popular. Bananas, oranges, mangos, avocado pears, coconuts, sweet potatoes, cassavas, and plantains disappear like magic.

We feel like we have viewed this kaleidoscope sufficiently for one morning, and take our places in the motor-car which has had a long wait. On arrival at Government House, luncheon is served. In the cool and shady dining-room with the punkah’s soft and silent breeze and our English comforts, we feel the contrast with the mobs we have just left behind.

Lagos.1

1913 Airplane Pictures

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, October 17, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Caption: The above photograph illustrates a Deperdussin monoplane filtted with dual contraol so that two pilots can alternately take charge while in flight.

Caption: The above photograph illustrates a Deperdussin monoplane fitted with dual control so that two pilots can alternately take charge while in flight. Source: Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for this date, I’m going to share some fun  pictures from a book published in 1913 called Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight by Algernon E. Berriman.

Here’s how Chapter 1 begins:

Everyone nowadays is familiar with the appearance of an aeroplane, but many, nevertheless do not know what, scientifically speaking, an aeroplane is. . .

aviation.3

Caption: The pilot is seen seated in a Bleriot monoplane, which is about to start. The mechanics are holding on to the fuselage against the pull of the propeller.

Aviation.2

Caption: In the photograph, which shows one of the Royal Aircraft Factory’s biplanes, the mechanic has just released the propeller and is getting clear of its rotation.

Caption: A view can be seen of the control wheel in front of which is a map holder. On the right is a compass.

Caption: A view can be seen of the control wheel in front above which is a map holder. On the right is a compass.

Caption:  A Bleriot monoplane descending and a Farman-type biplane ascending. The biplane is flying away from the camera and the monoplane is approaching from above. (Source: Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight (1913)

Caption: A Bleriot monoplane descending and a Farman-type biplane ascending. The biplane is flying away from the camera and the monoplane is approaching from above.

I wonder if the teen who wrote the diary ever thought that she’d ride in an airplane.

Fast forward 50+ years– I can remember picking Grandma up at the Williamsport (PA) airport when she was in her early 70s. She flew back to Pennsylvania after visiting relatives in the Detroit area. She complained about not being able to hear after she got off the plane.  I think it was the first time she had ever flown—and she was flustered and wasn’t sure whether she liked flying (though I think that she was proud of herself for being so adventuresome).

Hundred-Year-Old Rural Math Problems

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 15, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Source: Rural Arithmetic (1913)

Source: Rural Arithmetic (1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m still fascinated by the 1913 textbook I found called Rural Arithmetic by John E. Calfee that I mentioned the previous two days. Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for this date a hundred years ago, I am going to share a few more problems today.

Here are the problems:

1.  If a cord of wood for cooking purposes lasts a family 3 weeks, how much does the family pay out in the course of a year for cook-stove wood when wood is $2 per cord? . . . when wood is $3 per cord?

2. If a quail, in the course of a year, eats 25¢ worth of grain, and destroys $2 worth of harmful insects and weed seed, how much has a farmer injured himself by killing 3 pairs of quails if a pair raise a brood of 12 each year?

3. If the water running from a piece of land that has been planted with corn contained 1 pound of sediment for every 250 gallons of water, how much soil was carried away from a 40-acre corn field after a 2-inch rainfall, with 1/4 of the water running off?

4. If a team travels 16 1/2 miles a day with a breaking plow, how many days work can a man save in plowing 30 acres (110 rod by 43 7/11 rod) by using a 16-inch instead of a 12-inch plow?

5. A county store on a gravel road pays 1¢ a mile for each 100 pounds of freight hauled from the railroad station.; a county seat of the same road 24 miles from the railroad, 18 miles of which are not gravel, pays 2¢ a miles for hauling 100 pounds of freight. What is the annual bad-road tax paid by this county seat upon 300,000 pounds of freight?

rural.arithmetic.p. 86

rural.arithmetic.p. 87

It’s amazing how much you can learn about routine activities (as well as issues and challenges) a hundred years ago from word problems.

It’s also intriguing to think about how pedagogical experts a hundred years ago must have believed that it was important to have textbooks with problems that were designed specifically for the rural context that the students experienced in their day-to-day lives.

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Was a College Degree Worth More a Hundred Years Ago than it is Now?

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, October 13, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Salaries.education.level.1913.2013

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Some days are just like that—they barely seem worthwhile. Today I hear so many recent college graduates worrying about whether it was worthwhile getting a college degree since the job market is so tight.

Was a college degree worth more a hundred years ago than it is now?

1913

According to a 1913 book called Rural Arithmetic by John E. Calfee:

A business  man who has studied the productive power of intelligent labor in New York reports that the man with a common-school education is able to produce one and one-half times as much wealth as the illiterate man, the high-school man two times as much, and the college man four times as much.

2013

According to Frontline on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), today:

The average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Comparison

There’s more of an income benefit of earning a high school diploma today than back then—and the value of getting a college has also increased slightly.

In other words, today someone with a high school diploma earns on average 1.5 times as much as a high school graduate and someone with a college degree earns 2.8 times as much.

This can be compared to 1913 when (after the base was converted to 1 for a high school dropout), a high school graduate on average earned 1.3 times as much as the dropout,  and the college graduate earned 2.7 times as much as the dropout.

For those who care about the details–

I assumed that the benefit of a college degree didn’t change much between 2012 and 2013. The data I used was from a 2012 article.

Rural Arithmetic is a math textbook. A subheading in one of the chapters was “Educated Labor”.  The quote above was pulled from the introduction to that subsection. It was followed by a series of word problems about the value of education.

The 1913 book used the term “common school graduate” to refer to someone who had completed 8 years of education.  For the purposes of this analysis I considered a common school graduate to be a high school dropout.

And, here is a chart that contains a crosswalk between the base (salary of illiterate person=1) used in the 1913 book, and the base (salary of a high school dropout = 1) that I used in the chart at the top of this post.

Salaries.education.level.drop-out

An aside–We must be doing something right with education today since we no longer even think about what the salary would be for an illiterate person.

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