Bring it back now: A look at 100 years ago, while facing the future

Bring it back now: A look at 100 years ago, while facing the future

At the beginning of a new year people love to look ahead at where they will be in their lives when the next new year rolls around. It’s also a time to stop and reflect on the progress that was made.  If we look back a hundred years to 1916, we can see what the people of the world accomplished then and feel inspired now due to how far mankind has come and how much further we can go.

In 1916 the Adamson act was passed establishing an eight hour work day and extra pay for overtime for railroad workers. The first official forty hour week was worked. This laid the way for the broader eight hour work day standard that would be applied to more industries in the thirties.

The first woman, Jeanette Rankin, was elected to the House of Representatives. Rankin was one of 56 congress members to vote against entering World War I, and the only member to vote against declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor. She, unsurprisingly, was a driving force in enfranchising women and the women’s suffrage movement. She has been said to be the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote. Over 313 women have served as representatives, delegates, or senators since.

Birth control activist Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in October, 1916. She was arrested and sentenced to 30 days in a workhouse for the illegal distribution of contraceptives and being a ”public nuisance”. Along with Sanger, Emma Goldman was arrested for lecturing on birth control. Now over 60% of women who are of reproductive age use some type of contraceptive.

The luxury automobile company BMW was founded in 1916 and at first produced mostly aircraft engines. Following WWI the company could not produce these engines due to a treaty so they began pursuing motorcycle production and eventually cars. In 2012, BMW was named “most reputable company in the world” by Forbes magazine. Now they produce and sell millions of cars a year. Pretty impressive for a company that’s turning one hundred years old in March.

On August 15th, 1916, the National Park Service was created with the goal to protect and preserve national parks, monuments, and historical sites. With the amount of national parks growing to 59, the NPS has nearly 20,000 employees and wield a budget of over two billion a year. The parks now receive over  280,000,000 visits a year and millions of travelers camp out in them.


Other neat things that happened in 1916 include:

  • The first women were allowed to attend a boxing match.
  • Charlie Chaplin signed with Mutual Films and produced some of his finest work.
  • The 1st U.S. national women’s swimming championships were held.
  • The first professional golf tournament was held.
  • The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.


Many things have changed since 1916, and we have come a long way. It makes you wonder what will have changed by 2116. The kicker is that it’s nearly impossible any of us will witness it.

Looks like it’s time to start working on the secret to immortality.