Saturday, February 27, 2010
Let's take a look at the front page of a newspaper from 1897 to see in which areas we've made progress over the past century and a bit, and which areas have remained mostly the same (or even regressed). For some context, this is what New York looked like at the time:
The newspaper is the Hornellsville Weekly Tribune, from September 24, 1897.
First we have a bit on a movement to oppose bachelor politicians. Opposing politicians for personal reasons (not married, married and cheated, doesn't seem to spend enough time with family, etc.) is a common practice today as well so no real change there.
The next interesting article doesn't have anything to do with progress or the lack of it but deserves a mention for sheer badassery.
Then there's Chicago's polite policeman. Similar stories can be found today as well, and this is just a single story so no insight here into any general trends.
The next one looks like it came straight from the Onion. Safe to say there has been a lot of progress in this area over a century.
The next article gives us a glimpse of a prison from Queen Elizabeth's day. No insight into prisons from 1897 here but it's still an interesting read. In modern times Norway for example is famous for its focus on rehabilitation over punishment in its prisons, although lenient prisons certainly aren't a completely modern invention. Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in a pretty comfortable prison too back in 1924. Back then most predicted that after the Putsch he had been tamed and his movement brought to an end, and that he wouldn't stir up trouble again.
The next is on slum work in London. London has certainly improved since then, although some other cities (Detroit is a good example) have gotten much worse recently. Statistical information though shows that there is a general improvement in most areas, with longer lifespans, greater literacy, and less poverty in most parts of the world over time.
Nearing the end of the page we reach a section called Purely Personal, with some interesting tidbits about just about everything. All of them are pretty normal except #2 (the last word there is Indians), which again would only be seen in the Onion today.
How much of the page do they take up? Let's zoom out and take a look at the information to ad ratio.