Vintage in Context: the 1900s

Ah, the 1900s, the first decade of one of the most influential centuries in history.  So much has happened since then, although 100 years is nothing in comparison to all of history!  In the past century, so many new inventions have been created, so many world movements started, so many events on the global stage have occurred.  The 1900s is so different from today, but it has impacted us so much!

Here are some events from around the world from 1900-1909:

photo source and e-version of book

Sigmund Freud's book The Interpretation of Dreams is released in 1900, and he's paid $209 for his work.  It is the first serious look at dreams as indicators of inner psychological issues.  It was received coldly and critically but is now considered one of Freud's most prolific and original works.  The ideas of wish-fulfillment theory, symbolism in dreams, sexuality in childhood, and the connection between hallucinations and dreams comes from this book.

Chinese woodblock print showing the capture of Tianjin in June of 1900

After a disastrous war with Japan, the Boxer Rebellion in China reaches Peking, the capital, in 1900.  At first, the Boxers attempt to overthrow the Chinese Ch'ing Dynasty currently in power, but as the Empress Dowager begins to back them, they turn their attention to ridding China of all foreigners.  Japan, Britain, the U.S., Russia, Italy, and France send in a force of 2,100 soldiers to attempt to protect their citizens, but the Empress orders all foreigners to be killed in June of 1900 and many foreign ambassadors, missionaries, and laypeople are killed.  The rebellion is subdued by August, but it weakens the Ch'ing Dynasty and hastens the arrival of the Republic of China in a few years.

Thomas Edison produces the first narrative silent film, "The Great Train Robbery" in 1903.  Lasting 12 minutes, it portrays a train being robbed and the thieves being shot by a posse that comes after them.  It included many revolutionary film editing techniques such as panning a camera to follow characters and shooting in more than one scene.

In 1904, the New York City subway system opens.  Although not the first in America, it quickly becomes one of the largest and most famous systems in the country.  100,000 people each pay a nickel on opening day to ride the new transportation!
1907 sees the convening of the Second Hague Conference in which world leaders such as Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, President Roosevelt (U.S.), and forty three other delegations discuss different world issues, including the decrease in armaments and establishing international protocol for peacefully settling disputes.  Not much is accomplished, for power blocs had already been established between European countries, and this tenuous balance of power later leads to World War I.  However, the Ten Rules of Warfare are, ironically, agreed upon.


The Young Turk Revolution occurs in 1908, attempting to overthrow the Ottoman Empire with the hopes of introducing a constitutional government and promoting all-Turk equality (at the expense of minorities).  Led by the young Turkish bourgeoisie class (made of mostly intellectuals and military officers), the revolt is eventually subdued but sets the stage for the more successful Kemalist Revolution to come.

1900s pictures from around the world:

Yemeni jewelry made of metal, coral, and old Islamic coins, early 1900s
Mbo, King of Bali, early 1900s
Pablo Picasso helps introduce Cubism in 1907 with his piece "Les Demoiselles D'Avignon"
Dancing girls and musicians in Dehli, early 1900s

Don't forget to enter the Giant Two Year Anniversary Giveaway!  It ends November 1st!

1 comment

  1. I love the 1900s, it's such an interesting and different era. My Grandpa was born in 1901 so I always hear lots of stories from my mum that he had passed on to her about historic events. I'm also in uni and been learning about Sigmund Freud, it's quite funny to look back on that research now, such strange theories....he did definitely leave a mark on history though.