Then And Now: What 100 Years Of Change Looks Like, In One Infographic

Tyler Durden's picture

As we rapidly approach the 100 year anniversary of the Federal Reserve (signed into law on December 23, 1913) and the 16th amendment (ushering in that IRS favorite - the income tax) a question arises: what was life like a century ago? Conveniently, the following infographic breaks down some of the main ways in which life has changed in the past 100 years: from life expectancy, to marriage, education, employment, wages, entertainment, sport, and shopping (we finally find a time when JCPenney was actually popular), all the key ways in which the world and life in the US has changed in the past century are mapped out.

Then vs. Now
h/t @GreekFire23

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Meat Hammer's picture

The education stats are the most telling for me because they don't teach common sense in school.  People without high-school diplomas got their education through living life and learning street smarts.  Now we have a bunch of educated ignorance surrounding us.

The least common sense is common sense.  

seek's picture

I know for some of the northeastern states the literacy rate has declined markedly from back in the day when no one went to school, because at that time education was handled at home and turning illiterate children out into the world was inexcusable..

WayBehind's picture

No way there is 63% white population in California. Perhaps somewhere in Texas. Here, maybe 30-40%. just saying ....

The Shootist's picture

Democrats and rinos encourage you to become a low information voter on the plantation.

Letting the 30 million illegal democrats vote for changing the constitution would be the last nail in the Republic's coffin. Period. Many wrote their congressmen to stop gun control, but what about protecting the citizens' sovereignty?

economics9698's picture

Officially $800 in 1913 would be $18,602 today and unofficially $53,836.  Quite a gap between the reported inflation and the real inflation rate as reflected in the price of gold.

FEDbuster's picture

Always convert to gold to get to the truth.

knukles's picture

And people today are dumber than they look in that drawing.

Quinvarius's picture

But the drawing is a cartoon.  People are dumber than cartoons?

RockyRacoon's picture

Today's folks are, yes.   As for the education, there is NO equivalent in a high school education today with the same back then.  This from 1895, so you'll have to extrapolate to 1913 (if the average person knows what extrapolation is):

Could you have passed this 8th grade test?

Meat Hammer's picture

I never took a test that hard in college.  

Son of Loki's picture

Numbers confuse me ... thanks for the pictures.

Van Halen's picture

Pictures confuse me. Thanks for the Kardashians.

Lets_Eat_Ben's picture

What's a Kardashian? Thank you for the WWE.

A Nanny Moose's picture

An alien race from Star Trek TNG

idea_hamster's picture

Crossword puzzles count as "technology"?


clymer's picture

And the only two things thing the FED contributed in reference to the items listed in this graphic is a 99.7% reduction in the value of the currency it is mandated to protect, and a 350% rise in the unemployment rate (because most in know understand real unemployment is probably over 23%).

double fail on the only two things you could fail at, FED

RSloane's picture

The Fed's only goal is to continuously feed money into zombie banks and corporations. To this end, the Fed has been wildly successful.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

Wouldn't it be fun to give this test to college profs and tell them they must ace it to keep their "jobs"?

HulkHogan's picture

The multiple choice questions are easy, but the essay/written questions are very hard. I have a Masters degreee and I'm old, which means I should be smart, but I bet I'd only get a C on this test.

Attitude_Check's picture

Check out the McGuffey Reader of that time.  This was the standard, and This book was for 8th grade.  There has certainly been a major change in literacy.

knukles's picture

I mean seriously.
Kids today aren't learned that shit even in college.
No fucking wonder...
This is not a mistake, not with the infrastructure, money and organized control over education.
It is not a mistake.
That or the folks doing this should be reeducated themselves.
It is the effective product of a wholesale dumbing down, elite ruling class society, indorctrinating our children to be helpless sheeple, slaves of the gubamint, Forward to the New World Order.

Evil, Fucking Evil

Lore's picture

Re: "Kids today aren't learned that shit"  <-- LOL

HardAssets's picture

Well, at least he used whole words rather than the iphone text crap that my nephews use.

merizobeach's picture

Dude, I majored in literature and philosophy in university, and I may not have done more reading than McGuffey's 8th grade reader.  (Ok, the University of Guam is not a bastion of literacy.)  There are many titles in the reader that I've still not read yet.  Got the PDF now, thanks much for the link!

Dave Thomas's picture

I call bullshit, never in 1895 was a bag of dog food 23.95!

HardAssets's picture

"But the drawing is a cartoon.  People are dumber than cartoons?"


Bugs Bunny was far smarter than most people today, and he had the handicap of only being two dimensional.

underman's picture

$800 in the mattress would be $800 in the mattress today.  $800 converted to gold in 1913 would be $57,600 in the mattress today.  Very nice example of gold protection.

zhandax's picture

No need to convert; in 1913, that $800 in the mattress was gold or silver.  If you wanted paper to make the matress softer, the certificates were redeemable in gold coin (for another 20 years).  1914 is when the frb 'notes' appeared.

Whoa Dammit's picture

Also in 1913  50% or more of that $800 did not go to pay various taxes.

new game's picture

ya man, net purchasing power of china shit and knock off fakes, not to mention silicon titties...

fuckitall's picture

"Officially $800 in 1913 would be $18,602 today and unofficially $53,836. "

Appreciate that info.  Your number is probably more accurate, but let's use the infographic number anyway.

Yesterday some fool said gold holders had 80x gain since 1913.  I said bullshit, it's more like 1.75x over that time period, and the 1.75x was 1933's gold call-in and dollar devaluation (20 / oz to 35 / oz).

Let's see who is right (and who is the fool).  

26,364 / 800 =  32.955  Let's say 33.  It means today's dollar is worth 1/33rd (3.03 cents) of 1913 value.

Ok let's apply that to gold.  We have to do the inverse (multiply).  20 * 33 = 660.    If gold simply offset inflation (debasing dollar) since 1913 it would be 660 / oz. 

Yesterday I said the real gain is 1.75 from the 1933 dollar devaluation.  So let's figue it in.  660 * 1.75 = 1,155.

Still way below today's spot.  Does it mean someone holding gold since 1913 has seen more than 1.75x net gain?  Maybe 1/3 more?

What about the 26,364 number?  Is it accurate?  economics9698 says it's really 53,836 now.

Ok, let's use that number.  53,836 / 800 = 67.295.  Let's say 67.

Apply it to gold, again, inverse, multiply.  20 * 67 = 1,340.

Again, figuring in my 1.75 from 1933.  1,340 * 1.75 =  2,345.  Ouch, way higher than spot. 

So what's wrong here?  Is his 53k number too high?  If it's right, it means today's dollar is worth 1/67th of 1913 value (1.4925 cents) and gold should be 2,345 / oz just pacing inflation (dollar debasement).

Here's what I think is wrong:  1913 official peg was too low.  Should have been around 28 / oz in 1913, evidenced by Roosevelt moving peg to 35 in 1933.

Why was it kept so artifically low right up to 1933?  Simple, so govt could pay people 42.85% less for their gold (1 - (20 / 35)), getting their gold just above half price.

Here's another thing I know is wrong:  53,836 / 800 has 1933 devaluation figued in already, so we don't figure it in again.

Ok, let's fix these two problems now.  (a) 1913 peg should have been around 28. (b)  Don't do the 1.75 thing, it's already figured in.

28 * 67 =  1,876.  Lookie there, right about where spot would be without all the naked shorting spot hammering lately.

And yes his 53k number might be high.  We might still be around 2 cents now, not 1.49 cents.

And yes my 1913 28 peg might be off some.  Maybe it should be 25.  But maybe it should be 30, which sounds more realisitic to me, meaning spot should be higher than 1,876 now, just pacing dollar debasement, nothing more.

I suspect his 53k number is pretty close, meaning gold has simply paced along with inflation (dollar debasement) more or less, like everything else, egss, milk, bread, gas, etc.

Dollar loses 10% value, gold and eggs and milk and bread and gas all rise about the same amount. At least gold would without all the naked shorting spot hammering.

And yes gold is trailing somewhat because of all the spot hammering.

And yes that 80x thing is nonsense.  It's nominal gain, where gain net of debasement is zero more or less, and nominal is 67x at best.

And no, one ounce gold doesn't buy 67 times as much eggs and milk and bread and gas today vs 1913.  It buys about the same amount of all that stuff, proving gold hasn't risen in real purchasing power, dollar has dropped in real purchasing power, down to 1/67th its 1913 purchasing power.

So gold is merely wealth preservation, that's it, not hoping for some huge gain in wealth, which ain't gonna happen.

Another way to view it is gold holding it's value against a rapidly falling commodity ...called US dollar.  Because those US dollars are being printed like crazy and flooded onto the market.

Yea, think of US dollar as just another commodity. And that's what it is in monetary theory. It behaves just like any other market traded commodity sans all the manipulation.

donsluck's picture

True, PMs are only for a hedge against inflation (monetary, not CPI). So, sell when interest rates start rising. When T notes approach 6%, you should be out of PMs.

fuckitall's picture

Maybe so, but I tend to look more at printing, I believe it has more direct impact on gold price.  T yield would be indirect thru printing in my view.  T yield rises because printing slows down.  T yield drops because printing picks up.

Then there's printing not involving Treasuries, like 35 billion / month going into MBS, which wouldn't affect T yield but would affect gold price from the printing aspect.

I don't see investor money moving back and forth between Treasuries and gold to any real extent, so no connection there.  I would speculate it's back and forth between Treasuries and other debt paper.

Dark_Horse's picture


Even simpler math, if someone in 1913 saved $800 in common US gold coinage from general circulation and held until today.

That would be 40 SaintGaudens $20 gold coins, in XF condition.

The coins trade in the market today around $1400 each. A value of $56,000 .



fuckitall's picture

$1400 would be nice, getting numismatic premium free pretty much. But gold is over my head price-wise, I'm down in "poor man's gold" silver territory.

FEDbuster's picture

Regarding the education stats, a high school diploma in 1913 was the equivalent of a college degree in 2013.  In some areas, the high school degree of 1913 was superior. 

RockyRacoon's picture

Exactly.  Didn't mean to front-run you but see my link to an example above.

Sleepless Knight's picture

Pick up and look through any late 1800's Mcguffy reader. An 8th grade education using those books was superior to todays college levels - by far.

Lore's picture

Orwell's "Linguistic Reductionism" should be referenced here:

It is shocking how the quality of communication has declined.  My great-grandparents were called away from school, yet they were well spoken, wrote flowing prose in the most beautiful handwritten script, and commanded a vocabulary that would probably shame many modern "academics." 

As a recruiter, I find the greatest barrier to personal success for most young job applicants is their rotten communication skills.  Their reading and writing is at a child's level.  Lacking basic knowledge of sentence mechanics, they cannot critique their own work.  What good is "information technology" when you cannot express yourself?  How many university students are forced to take remedial courses because their elementary education was lousy?  

More generally, a lot of young adults seem to lack basic life skills.  Unrealistic job expectations aside, there is a general trend toward dressing and looking like you just rolled out of bed.  Back in the Depression, people still clung to their dignity.  Something else is happening now.  Standards are disappearing.

HardAssets's picture

Lore - - - if you havent already done so, you may be very interested in reading "The Underground History of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto. - - - Mr Gatto was granted the award for being Teacher of the Year in NY state and NYC. He grew up in a small community in Pennsylvania and was shocked to see the poor level of education that he found when he began teaching in NYC. He did extensive research and discovered that the degradation of education throughout America was Not an accident, but planned.  Mr Gatto's book can be read (for free) at his website. (You can also buy a hard copy):



Meat Hammer's picture

Great recommendation!  I'm on page 4 and already know that I won't be getting much sleep tonight.

HardAssets's picture

LOL !  I know what you mean. I started reading it and couldnt stop till I got through it. Took about a week, if I recall.

Here's a far shorter article where John explains what he Really taught in school. "The 7 Lesson School Teacher":

Here's another source for you to check out when you get the chance. Its a clip from an interview with John Taylor Gatto. (Mr Gatto is ill and the interviewer wanted to record these conversations so that the lessons of this remarkable man could be preserved):

Enjoy everyone !

Meat Hammer's picture

My favorite passage from the first article:

Only a few lifetimes ago things were very different in the United States. Originality and variety were common currency; our freedom from regimentation made us the miracle of the world; social-class boundaries were relatively easy to cross; our citizenry was marvelously confident, inventive, and able to do much for themselves independently, and to think for themselves. We were something special, we Americans, all by ourselves, without government sticking its nose into our lives, without institutions and social agencies telling us how to think and feel. We were something special, as individuals, as Americans.


HardAssets's picture

I gave a copy of the Underground History of American Education book to a friend of my family. A very nice woman who has been teaching elementary school for years. Her parents are retired public school teachers.

Of course, she's 'too busy' to read it.

It takes a great deal of courage to question the ideas and ideals you have held for all your life.

But I did hear through the grapevine that she wants to change her career . . . . . so who knows, maybe the book had some impact afterall.  John Taylor Gatto quit after winning the NY State Teacher of the Year award. He decided he could no longer harm children by what he was forced to teach them in the public schools.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Great suggestions. JTG is a great mind.

merizobeach's picture

Thanks.  Free history books--FYB!

FreeNewEnergy's picture

HardAssets, thanks for the link. I read the prologue and chapter one and I'm hooked. Gatto is brilliant and his historical sense uncannily purposeful.

I thought, while reading, that the "schooling" of antiquity was somehow akin to the commenting and message boards of sites like ZH, where men and women can discuss and argue the issues of the day. Maybe there is some value to the internet beyond maps and free porn.

Keep reading, keep learning.

HardAssets's picture

FreeNewEnergy - youre welcome.  (And the same to others who have replied).  The power of the internet (which the puppet masters greatly underestimated) is it gives us the ability to share information among ourselves. If they ever take it down, alternatives will spring up. The genie is out of the bottle.

When I first started reading Gatto years ago my immediate reaction was "Holy freakin' A ! ! !"  It totally blew me away and changed my view of America and what I had 'learned' (and not learned) in school. It also gave me great hope. I know that it wasn't always this way. It doesnt have to be this way.

If the boot stomping down on human energy and creativity were shoved aside, the results for humanity would seem miraculous. In the end, the control freaks won't be able to prevent this from happening.

RSloane's picture

Community colleges across the country are lamenting the fact that more and more of their resources are going into providing remedial education rather than providing coursework commesurate with other colleges. What happens when a third or more of your college students cannot read on a fourth grade level, write on a third grade level, and can't do basic math. How those students ever graduated from high school is a mystery that primary and secondary schools refuse to address.

This is what happens when schools are relegated to providing social services rather than actually teaching anyone. Its a good thing that modern schools focus on making the student feel good about themselves, is it not? No one is discussing what happens to the self-esteem of those students when they don't even qualify for a job at Burger King after graduating from high school.