Friday, April 20, 2007

Predictions from 1900 about year 2000

Image from Nostalgiaville at I couldn't find Dec 1900, so here's Jan 1901.

The Ladies' Home Journal from December of 1900 had an article with predictions about what life will be like in 100 years (HT: Daily Dish). Some of them are quite accurate, in spirit if not in the details:
Prediction #9: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Even to-day photographs are being telegraphed over short distances. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.

Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.
Others are completely off:
Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”

Prediction #22: Store Purchases by Tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver packages and bundles. These tubes will collect, deliver and transport mail over certain distances, perhaps for hundreds of miles. They will at first connect with the private houses of the wealthy; then with all homes. Great business establishments will extend them to stations, similar to our branch post-offices of today, whence fast automobile vehicles will distribute purchases from house to house.
(Of course, some Republican senators think the Internet is a "series of tubes", so maybe it's not so far off.) Some are a wonderful mixture of right and not right:
Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.
This one makes me sad:
Prediction #17: How Children will be Taught. A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have been established. Children will study a simple English grammar adapted to simplified English, and not copied after the Latin. Time will be saved by grouping like studies. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.
Basically, they're predicting that in the future, governments will value education and be able to care for poor people. If only. The sad thing is we do have the resources to do this, if we could avoid stupid wars and and shift our priorities. But shifting the priorities of a society has always been a herculean task. That's why we have progressive blogs :)

It's very much worth reading all of them. Maybe I should write some predictions for 2107 so people can admire/laugh at me later on.


Blogger Heraldblog said...

I laughed out loud at #22, especially the part about delivering mail by vaccum tube. "How refreshingly naive", as they might have said 107 years ago.

11:57 PM, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Marion said...

Most interesting, and most amusing in spots! One has to wonder what Mr. Watkins' reactions would be were he somehow transported to our time.

12:44 AM, April 21, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks for stopping by, Heraldblog and Marion.

I imagine Mr. Watkins might say something like, "Wow! When did garishly colored undergarments become acceptible evening wear?"

2:25 AM, April 21, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

What a fun piece. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

7:43 AM, April 21, 2007  

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