How Much Do You Know About…American Life in 1905?

January 26, 2015

Wright Brothers flight, 1905, wikipedia

American life was very different 110 years ago in terms of home life, technology, social mores, and much more. Take the following test to find out how much you know about American life in the year 1905.

1. The average life expectancy in the U.S. in 1905 was:

A. 55 years.
B. 68 years.
C. 47 years.

2. What percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub?

A. 14%.
B. 50%.
C. 80%.

3. Women typically washed their hair:
A. Once a week.
B. Once a month.
C. Every few days.

4. Which disease was not among the top 5 leading causes of death in 1905?
A. Pneumonia and influenza.
B. Tuberculosis.
C. Cancer.
D. Diarrhea.
E. Heart disease.
F. Stroke.

5. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada in 1905 was:
A. 50,000.
B. 3,000.
C. 30.

6. Only one of these existed in 1905. Which one?
A. Crossword puzzles.
B. Canned beer.
C. Ice tea.
D. Pink Lemonade.

7. Which one was not available over the counter at the local corner drugstore?
A. Marijuana.
B. Heroin.
C. Morphine
D. Aspirin.


1. C. The average life expectancy in 1905 was 47 years old.

2. A. 14% of American households had bathtubs.

3. B. Most women washed their hair once a month, using borax and egg yolks for their shampoo.

4. C. Cancer was not one of the top five leading causes of death in 1905.

5. C. There was only a population of 30 in Las Vegas in 1905.

6. D. Only pink lemonade existed in 1905. It appears that 1863 was the first printed mention of pink lemonade:

Put two ounces of loaf sugar in a quart of water, also the rind of an orange or of one lemon. Half an hour after strain the whole, and press into it the juice of the orange, and a few drops of lemon juice. If found too strong, add water and sugar. It is a very good drink in summer, or for evening parties. A little currant jelly may be added to make a variety.”
—What to Eat and how to Cook It, Pierre Blot [D. Appleton and Company:New York] 1863 (p. 18)

7. D. Aspirin became available in 1915 as an OTC (over-the-counter, no prescription required) medication in tablet form.