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A lot has changed in the world since 1911, from commodity prices to clothing to the way we look at occupational safety, health and the environment. Take a peek at some of the changes that have occurred in the past 100 years.

THEN – 1911 NOW**

Middling cotton cost 13.01 cents/pound*

Middling cotton costs about 55 cents/pound

Wheat cost $0.963/bushel*

Wheat costs nearly $20/bushel

In women’s fashion, the period was known as early art deco, some women continued to wear corsets even though many styles no longer needed them. Also the hemlines shrunk to ankle length (Source: Cornell Costume Collection).

Women have much more freedom in terms of what they can wear today. One major difference is that women now wear pants.

Men’s clothing didn’t see much change in the early 1900s other than a slimmed down version of the suit. However, the most popular of inventions: ready-to-wear clothing, where trousers could be purchased ready-to-wear and no longer needed to be custom made by tailors…or wives.

Pants are still the norm, but suits are now mainly formal attire and not always a requirement in some business circles. In addition, gym shoes exist and are not necessarily only for casual wear.

Beef cost $12.92/barrel*

Today the price of beef is no longer quoted per barrel. A beef or pork barrel was a barrel filled with brine to preserve the meat. With the advent of refrigeration the beef and pork barrels became obsolete. So today, prices are quoted per pound, and the cost of ground beef is $2.30/lb on average, however prime cuts cost more.

Pork cost $19.12/barrel*

As above, the pork barrel became obsolete. Today the phrase “pork barrel” refers to government spending/legislation that benefit a particular district, whose legislator thereby wins favor with local voters. Today, the cost of pork is around $3.00/lb, more if it is a prime cut.

Cost of coffee (java) per pound, only 18.75 cents*

Today, you can’t even get a cup of coffee for less than $1.00 in most places. Average cost of coffee per pound: about $10.00.

A First class U.S. stamp costs $0.02

A First class U.S. stamp costs $0.44

Unemployment was at 6.7%

Unemployment is currently at 10%

Federal spending, $0.69 billion

Current Federal spending is around $4 trillion.

* Commodity prices from U.S. Census of 1912.
** This data is current through September 2009.