This post is a mini-break from the suffrage timeline in order to tie it into other things happening in the world. The suffrage movement during the second half of the fight from 1885-1920 takes place in a completely different world than the first half 1848 (Seneca Falls) to 1885.
America is over 100 years old and up and coming on the world stage but it’s not a full world power yet. The population jumped 30% from 1870-1880 mostly because of immigration. In 1880 there are 38 states and 12 territories and District of Columbia. By 1890 the population grew another 25% to reach almost 63 million people. There are 44 states and 6 territories and District of Columbia.
This sample decade illustrates how much was happening in the world at the time. This was the first decade to have a lot of things made out of the recently invented first plastic called celluloid (which was and still is dangerously flammable). During the decade things like harnessing of electricity, the first gasoline and diesel engines, the introduction of telephones, telegraphs, and motion picture cameras change the world in ways that still resonate with us today.
Construction begins on the Panama Canal. (It has many delays and takes 24 years to finish.)
The first issue of “Science” is published with backing from Thomas Edison.
Electricity is cutting edge technology and is far from perfected.
City of Wabash, Indiana lays claim to being the first city to have electric lights.
NY's Broadway lit by electricity.
Helen Keller is born.
Booker T. Washington opens the Tuskegee Institute for African Americans to train as teachers.
Sioux Chief Sitting Bull surrenders to United States troops at Fort Buford, Montana.
Barnum and Bailey Circus debuts in New York City.
The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton.
Standard Oil Company Trust incorporates and is owned by one man, John D. Rockefeller, who now controls 90% of the U.S. oil refineries. (Kerosene is the top product at this time; gasoline has no practical use yet but Standard Oil employs scientists to find new uses for petroleum products.)
First significant anti-immigration law, the Chinese Exclusion Act, is passed.
Time zones are created in the U.S.
Buffalo Bill Cody starts his Wild West Show to preserve a way of life that is already going extinct.
The “Civil Rights Cases,” a group of five Supreme Court cases, legalize discrimination and segregation until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (They did not use the term, “separate but equal,” in the rulings, but that is the common summary of the cases. The 1896 case of Plessy v Ferguson reaffirms this idea.)
Jan Matzeliger of Lynn, MA, patents the Shoe Lasting Machine. (The machine could produce 700 shoes a day compared to 50 by hand. Mass-produced shoes are more affordable.)
Susan Hayhearst becomes the first woman to get a pharmacy degree in the United States.
Corn Flakes patented by the Kellogg brothers who were also experimenting with healthy lifestyles.
First skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, is built in Chicago. (It has 10 stories and uses new building material, steel, from the recently created Carnegie Steel Company.)
First roller coaster opens in Coney Island, NY.
Elenor Roosevelt is born.
American Telephone and Telegraph is created by Alexander Graham Bell.
Washington Monument is completed.
Rudolph Diesel patents first diesel engine in France.
Sarah E. Goode, inventor of a hideaway bed, is the first female African-American to receive a patent.
Hill Valley Courthouse and Clock Tower are built. #moviefan
Alice Paul, next generation suffrage leader, is born.
First coca-cola is sold.
The Statue of Liberty is dedicated.
Karl Benz received the first patent for an automobile in Germany.
Edison and Tesla are rivals in the battle for electrical currents (Direct vs. Alternating) involving J.P. Morgan and George Westinghouse (GE Corporation) as financial backers.
First trainload of oranges leave Los Angeles to be shipped to the east coast.
After 30 years of fighting for his people, Apache Chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. Government troops signalling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.
Sigmund Freud opens his first practice in Vienna, Austria.
The Dawes Act breaks up Native American tribal lands to sell to non-native settlers.
White Chapel murders taking place in London (Jack the Ripper).
19 year old Ghandi is beginning a career as a lawyer in London.
Susanna Madora Salter elected first female mayor in the U.S. (Argonia, Kansas).
Yellow River floods in China, one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. Two million people are killed.
Georgia O’Keefe is born.
Edison files patent for first “optical phonograph” i.e. movie camera.
George Eastman introduces the affordable and easy to use Kodak box camera.
First practical inflatable tire invented by John Boyd Dunlap.
U.S. Department of Labor is created.
Van Gogh cuts off his ear after an argument with fellow painter Paul Gaugin.
Edith Eleanor McLean is the first baby to use an incubator at State Emigrant Hospital, NY.
North and South Dakota, Montana, and Washington (state) are admitted to statehood.
Eiffel Tower opens in France.
“Wall Street Journal” newspaper begins publication.
Nintendo is founded in Japan as a playing card company. #Gamer
Intrepid female reporter Nellie Bly starts her around the world trip in 72 days, completes it in 1890.
Idaho and Wyoming admitted as states.
Alice Sanger becomes first female White House staffer.
Arthur Conan Doyle publishes first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet.”
Ellis Island opens as an immigration station.
Mississippi installs the first “literacy tests” to disenfranchise African-American voters. (Illiterate white voters are exempt because they are descended from previously registered voters.)
Bonus: Melville Bissel invented the first carpet sweeper for his wife Anna. It was a non-electric roller type but it worked wonderfully. He patented it in 1876. They started making them and selling them door to door. In 1883 they opened their first factory. When Melville died in 1889, Anna took over and became the first female corporate CEO!
2nd Bonus: a year after the decade in 1891 John Crapper improves the design of the flushable toilet. He didn’t invent the toilet; he invented the siphon device that stopped the methane gas from accumulating and being potentially explosive in the plumbing. (Speaking on behalf of most women, SuffragetteCity100 LOVES indoor flushable toilets, so we had to include this an an important invention to civilization even though it’s not a woman inventor.)
This week’s song pick:
“Down by the Riverside” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe https://youtu.be/4xzr_GBa8qk
Episode 37 Sources
https://worldhistoryproject.org (years 1880-1890)
Events were double checked by searching each one individually but the source list would be far too long. Google any specific item for more information. This is meant as a broad overview of a decade to put suffrage in context of everyday things, events, and people that would be familiar to a wide range of the general public.