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In 1914...

For the coming new year, I thought I would take a time machine back to 1914-- 100 years ago-- and see what life was like and what was happening.

1914, via the Great War, marked the end of the Edwardian era and what Mark Twain had dubbed “The Gilded Age." We were transitioning between the Victorian age to the twenties-- fashions, society, and technology were changing dramatically and rapidly.

1914 fashion lithograph

The president was Woodrow Wilson.

Average life expectancy was 52 years for males, and 56 years for females.

The average cost of an automobile in 1914 was about $550.

1914 Dodge brothers touring car

The First World War began on 28 July 1914, though the U.S. was declared neutral and would not officially get involved until 1917.

Phonographs allowed people to listen to pre-recorded music on cylinders whenever they wanted to; a musical hit of 1914 was “You Stole My Heart Away" by Henry Burr:

Motion pictures were still in their infancy, and Charlie Chaplin made his debut in a short film called “Making A Living", released on 2 February 1914.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, and the first ship crossed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

At the time, a substance called radium that we now know to be extremely dangerous was widely used as glow-in-the-dark paint for clock dials. It was even used in medicine, as it was thought to destroy cancer (instead of causing it).

Electricity was still not widely used by the majority of people at home, as it was expensive, and there was no standardization of power or plugs or outlets. And as people didn't fully understand how electricity worked yet, things like improper (or absent) insulation were a serious danger.

On a more personal note, my 3rd great-grandfather George Albert Baker passed away in Gloucester, Massachusetts on 9 July.

George Baker with his grandson Everett, c 1910

A lot has changed in the past 100 years, so much so that if we were to bring someone from that time to ours, they would quite literally be in shock.

What will people in 2114 say about 2014?

May 2015 bring peace, prosperity, and joy to us all!