Timeline of Selected Events: 1900-1910

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1900 Book Icon

  • Gregor Mendel's work on genetics is rediscovered.
  • Quantum theory, which states that energy comes in small packets—or quanta—is enunciated by Max Plank.
  • Annual steel production rises to over 11 million tons, up from 1.4 million in 1880.
  • Annexation of Hawaiian Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands
  • Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth justifies cutthroat laissez-faire capitalism on social Darwinist grounds.
  • Average age of death in the U.S. is 47.
  • One in 13 homes has a telephone, and one in 7 has a bathtub (showers are even rarer).
  • The brownie box camera introduced by Eastman Kodak sells at $1 and puts photography within reach of everyone, making Kodak a household name. Pic Icon
  • U.S. population reaches 76 million with 10.3 million of foreign birth, roughly 9 million black or of mixed blood, 237,000 native American Indian or partly Indian, 90,000 Chinese, and 24,000 Japanese.
  • The number of Americans living in urban areas rises to 40%, up from 28% in 1880.
  • Half of all U.S. working women are farmhands or domestic servants.

1901 Book Icon

  • Guglielmo Marconi receives first transatlantic radio telegraphy signal.
  • Life expectancy at birth for U.S. white males is 48.23 years; for white females, 51.08 years.
  • A new tenement house law is passed in New York, whose 83,000 "old law" masonry and wood tenements house 70% of the city's population. Strung end to end like railroad cars, the old six-story tenements have only tiny air shafts to provide light and air between their 90 foot ends. They crowd 10 families into 25 x 100 foot lots, and their minimal communal plumbing is indoors only because outhouses would consume land used for building. Pic Icon
  • Andrew Carnegie's New York mansion is completed. The six-story 64-room neo-Georgian has wood panels carved by Scottish and Indian craftsmen, a utilities basement fitted like a steamship engine room, a conservatory, and a large garden opposite Central Park.
  • Francis Galton's "The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed Under the Existing Conditions of Law and Sentiment"

1902 Book Icon

  • Eldridge Johnson perfects mass production of sound recordings.
  • Pierre Boule reconstructs the skeleton of a Neanderthal man.
  • Ivan Pavlov formulates his law of learning by conditioning.
  • Telegraph cable from California to Hawaii is completed.
  • Treaty of Vereeniging ends Boer War, and Boers accept British sovereignty in South Africa.
  • President Roosevelt officially ends the "great insurrection" in the Philippines, commending U.S. troops for upholding America's "lawful sovereignty."
  • Immigration to the U.S. sets new records. Congress revises the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to prohibit immigration of Orientals from U.S. island territories such as Hawaii and Philippines and makes the exclusion permanent.
  • George Melies' A Trip to the Moon is the first science fiction film epic and a masterpiece of all film up to this point. Pic Icon

1903 Book Icon

  • The Wright Brothers' achieve the first sustained manned flight in a controlled gasoline-powered aircraft. Pic Icon
  • The first transcontinental automobile trip.
  • Two-thirds of all U.S. motorcars sell at prices below $1,375, but most are too small, light and unreliable to present serious competition to the horse and buggy, much less the railroad.
  • The 12-minute film The Great Train Robbery is the first motion picture to tell a complete story, establishing a pattern of suspense drama that future moviemakers will follow. Pic Icon
  • A new bottle-blowing machine permits volume production of electric light bulbs, the high cost of which has discouraged widespread use of electric lighting.

1904 Book Icon

  • Suggested reading: Francis Galton's "Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims."

1905 Book Icon

  • Einstein formulates special theory of relativity, which links time and space and shows that time is not absolute.
  • U.S. auto production reaches 25,000, up from 2,500 in 1899.
  • Upton Sinclair exposes U.S. meat packing conditions in The Jungle. The 308-page bestseller describes sausage containing rats killed by poisoned bread and lard that contains the remains of employees who have fallen into the boiling vats. Many readers turn vegetarian, sales of meat products fall off, and Congress is roused to pass a Meat Inspection Act next year. Pic Icon
  • Alfred Binet and a colleague produce an intelligence test that, with modifications, becomes the widely used Sandford-Binet test.

1906 Book Icon

  • Reginald Fessenden makes first radio broadcasts of music and voice.
  • Edison invents a "cameraphone" for synchronization of phonograph and projector.
  • Lowell's Mars and Its Canals
  • Murder of Cortland, N. Y. factory girl Grace Brown makes world headlines and will become basis for An American Tragedy.
  • U.S. population reaches 85 million, British 38.9 million.
  • Frederick G. Hopkins states that "accessory food factors" (called vitamins in 1919) are essential for life.

1907 Book Icon

  • Lumiere Brothers introduce commercially successful color photography.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan begins his work with fruit flies, leading to an understanding of the mechanisms of heredity.
  • U.S. motorcar production reaches 43,000, up from 25,000 in 1905.
  • Nearly 1.29 million immigrants enter the U.S., a new record that will not be surpassed.
  • Bertram Boltwood suggests the concept of radioactive dating to determine ages of rocks and fossils.

1908 Book Icon

  • Lowell's Mars as the Abode of Life
  • A mysterious fireball explodes over Tunguska in Siberia, creating shock waves felt miles away. Its thermal currents set great tracts of tundra woodlands on fire, and the mushroom cloud and "black rain" that follow it inflict a scabby disease on reindeer herds. Russian scientists will not visit the sparsely populated area until 1927. Pic Icon
  • The Model T Ford is introduced, will soon outsell all other motorcars.
  • U.S. auto production reaches 63,500 with at least 24 companies producing motorcars.
  • Less than 2% of all U.S. farm families own motorcars, but there are 200,000 cars on the road, up from 8,000 in 1900.
  • Prizefighter Jack Johnson wins heavyweight title by knocking out Tommy Burns. Johnson is the first black titleholder. Pic Icon
  • Freud's "Creative Writers and Daydreaming"

1909 Book Icon

  • U.S. automobile production reaches 127,731, up from 63,500 last year.
  • A theory of the gene formulated by Thomas Hunt Morgan breaks new ground in study of heredity.
  • Copyright Law passed which will protect U.S. authors and publishers under terms that will remain unchanged for 68 years.
  • 1860
  • 1870
  • 1880
  • 1890
  • 1900
  • 1910