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View Poll Results: Was the daily life of the average middle class person in 1950 more similar to 1900 or 2014?
More similar to 1900 7 15.56%
More similar to 2014 38 84.44%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-02-2014, 10:00 AM
 
Location: HERE
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Would you say that daily life for the average middle class person in 1950 was more similar to the daily life of the average middle class person in 1900 or today?
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:58 PM
 
Location: SoCal
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Wouldn't it be better to compare 1950 to 1900 vs. 2000?
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:59 PM
 
Location: SoCal
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Or for that matter to 1886 vs. 2014?
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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Closer to today's life, for one simple reason; transportation. In 1900, many were still traveling via horse and buggy, airplanes were unheard of, and a transatlantic trip meant weeks at sea, if you were lucky enough not to get becalmed. By 1950, most people had cars, long journeys were no longer such a logistical problem, and you could hop on a plane and be in Europe in a matter of hours.

Really, transportation hasn't changed drastically since 1950.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post
Closer to today's life, for one simple reason; transportation. In 1900, many were still traveling via horse and buggy, airplanes were unheard of, and a transatlantic trip meant weeks at sea, if you were lucky enough not to get becalmed. By 1950, most people had cars, long journeys were no longer such a logistical problem, and you could hop on a plane and be in Europe in a matter of hours.

Really, transportation hasn't changed drastically since 1950.
Steam power replaced sails in the early 19th century. Robert Fulton was the first to build a commercially successfully steamboat in the US when his boat chugged (historically named the Clermont) up the Hudson River from NYC to Albany in 1807. The first regular scheduled trans-Atlantic steamship was the SS Great Western, which began trips in 1838. By the 1880s, the large scale steamships we think of as ocean liners were plying the Atlantic between Europe and the US.

Overall, though, I think that you might be correct. Much of the new technology of 1950 didn't exist in 1900 at all: computers, radar, radio, television, blood transfusions, nuclear power. Very few cities had electricity in 1900 (Buffalo, NY hosted the Pan American Exhibition which was a celebration of the successful harnessing of Niagara Falls for electrical power), and virtually none of the rural areas while in 1950 even most rural areas had electricity. Most Americans still lived on farms or in very small towns in 1900 while the US had grown to be a primarily urban nation by 1950. In 1900, few Americans, especially outside of the big cities, attended high school while by 1950 most Americans were graduating from high school, even in rural areas.

Child labor was commonplace in 1900; except for farms, it wasn't generally not allowed in 1950. Labor unions existed in many industries in 1950 where none existed in 1900. There were minimum wage and maximum hours laws at the federal level where there had been none in 1900. Women had the right to vote in 1950. De jure segregation had been sanctioned by the SCOTUS in 1896 but was under fire in 1950 and would be declared unconstitutional in 1954. People began to abandon cities in 1950s to move to the suburbs whereas in 1900, they had been abandoning the outlying areas to move to the cities.

Professional baseball existed in 1900, but was joined by professional basketball, hockey, and football by 1950. NASCAR was founded in 1947 by Bill France.

In 1900, Pax Britannia still dominated the world as "the sun never set on the British Empire", but in the 1950 the new world powers were the US and the USSR. China was no longer the hapless carcass of a once-great empire divvied up among European powers. Japan, which had been flexing its imperial muscles in 1900, had been abjectly defeated and was slowly rebuilding both its economy and its society. India, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt among other nations were independent countries in 1950 rather than colonies.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda_d View Post
Steam power replaced sails in the early 19th century. Robert Fulton was the first to build a commercially successfully steamboat in the US when his boat chugged (historically named the Clermont) up the Hudson River from NYC to Albany in 1807. The first regular scheduled trans-Atlantic steamship was the SS Great Western, which began trips in 1838. By the 1880s, the large scale steamships we think of as ocean liners were plying the Atlantic between Europe and the US.

Overall, though, I think that you might be correct. Much of the new technology of 1950 didn't exist in 1900 at all: computers, radar, radio, television, blood transfusions, nuclear power. Very few cities had electricity in 1900 (Buffalo, NY hosted the Pan American Exhibition which was a celebration of the successful harnessing of Niagara Falls for electrical power), and virtually none of the rural areas while in 1950 even most rural areas had electricity. Most Americans still lived on farms or in very small towns in 1900 while the US had grown to be a primarily urban nation by 1950. In 1900, few Americans, especially outside of the big cities, attended high school while by 1950 most Americans were graduating from high school, even in rural areas.

Child labor was commonplace in 1900; except for farms, it wasn't generally not allowed in 1950. Labor unions existed in many industries in 1950 where none existed in 1900. There were minimum wage and maximum hours laws at the federal level where there had been none in 1900. Women had the right to vote in 1950. De jure segregation had been sanctioned by the SCOTUS in 1896 but was under fire in 1950 and would be declared unconstitutional in 1954. People began to abandon cities in 1950s to move to the suburbs whereas in 1900, they had been abandoning the outlying areas to move to the cities.

Professional baseball existed in 1900, but was joined by professional basketball, hockey, and football by 1950. NASCAR was founded in 1947 by Bill France.

In 1900, Pax Britannia still dominated the world as "the sun never set on the British Empire", but in the 1950 the new world powers were the US and the USSR. China was no longer the hapless carcass of a once-great empire divvied up among European powers. Japan, which had been flexing its imperial muscles in 1900, had been abjectly defeated and was slowly rebuilding both its economy and its society. India, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt among other nations were independent countries in 1950 rather than colonies.
Thanks for the correction on the steam ships. I knew that they were making the voyage in the late 19th century, but I didn't realize that they were quite so prevalent. My favorite era of study is about 900 years prior to the time period in question.

You make some very good points about the changes that happened in a short 50 years. I think most people would go into culture shock if they were transported from 1900 to 1950, while going from 1950 to 2014 wouldn't be quite as bad. It would still be a shock, but at least the people of the 1950s could have some foresight of where technology was heading.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:15 PM
 
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History is more than the onwards progression of technology.

My take on it is that the 1950 person would feel closer to 2000 from a quality of life perspective and acceptance of technology. The typical 1950 person lived in a house with indoor plumbing and electricity, drove a car, went to an office from 9-5 and shopped in a supermarket and watched movies for entertainment. Not too different from today but very different from 1900.

But I would also argue that the moral values of the 1950 person was closer to the values of the 1900 person. In 1950 the typical married woman was expected to stay home and take care of the house and raise the children, which was also the case in 1900. Racial and social attitudes were more alike than different. People's attitudes towards the notions of manners and public behavior was still grounded in 1900, even as late as the 1950s. In the 1950s if you asked a random person what "respectability" meant he or she would be able to give you a clear answer, whereas if you asked a 2000 person what respectability meant, he or she would probably say, hmm...ah...what is respectability anyway?

The 1960s saw profound changes in public attitudes towards core moral values that represented a very clear break from the last vestiges of the 19th century.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post

You make some very good points about the changes that happened in a short 50 years. I think most people would go into culture shock if they were transported from 1900 to 1950, while going from 1950 to 2014 wouldn't be quite as bad. It would still be a shock, but at least the people of the 1950s could have some foresight of where technology was heading.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Long Neck,De
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Not having been around in 1900 I would not speculate. From 1950 to 2014 big changes. How many of you youngsters have picked up the phone and told the operator the number you wanted to call?Made a phone call for a dime from a phone booth? It was a different world.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:55 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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I would rather live in the 50's, which I did, than in the 2000's which I do. Times were much simpler and laid back then. No crap music, leave your doors unlocked, people had manners and respect for each other. Cars, TV and telephone were all that was necessary. Anyone living that era would tell you that it was the best of times, least of worries, non processed fresh foods, doctors made house calls, service people were prompt and reliable, movies were family fun, the list goes on and on.
If you didn't live that era you don't know what good you missed.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallybalt View Post
History is more than the onwards progression of technology.

My take on it is that the 1950 person would feel closer to 2000 from a quality of life perspective and acceptance of technology. The typical 1950 person lived in a house with indoor plumbing and electricity, drove a car, went to an office from 9-5 and shopped in a supermarket and watched movies for entertainment. Not too different from today but very different from 1900.

But I would also argue that the moral values of the 1950 person was closer to the values of the 1900 person. In 1950 the typical married woman was expected to stay home and take care of the house and raise the children, which was also the case in 1900. Racial and social attitudes were more alike than different. People's attitudes towards the notions of manners and public behavior was still grounded in 1900, even as late as the 1950s. In the 1950s if you asked a random person what "respectability" meant he or she would be able to give you a clear answer, whereas if you asked a 2000 person what respectability meant, he or she would probably say, hmm...ah...what is respectability anyway?

The 1960s saw profound changes in public attitudes towards core moral values that represented a very clear break from the last vestiges of the 19th century.
Your differentiation between the way of life based on technology (use of telephones, electricity, cars, etc.) and people's underlying attitudes, or "moral values" is interesting and insightful. The one is probably as great a revolution as the other. And like all revolutions, the results are not always positive even if many of them are. I was born in 1944 and I lament the general loss of manners even as I applaud the death of Jim Crow.

I was all set to argue that 1950 was more similar to the present based on the use of telephones, cars, airplanes, etc., but based on your argument I would now say it's a toss-up, depending on which element one wishes to emphasize.
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