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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1900-1909

Links to government documents and primary sources listing retail prices for products and services, as well as wages for common occupations.

Wages in the United States, 1900-1909

Wages by race, 1900-1909

Tip: The most common Black occupations are listed in the U. S. Census report Negroes in the U.S. (1904) page 58, and in Negro labor in the U.S. 1850-1925, pp. 315-319.

 

 

 

 

 

  • South Carolina - Wages by race, 1901-1909
    Shows the average annual salary of both white and black teachers in 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1908, and 1909 throughout the state. Source: Annual report of the State Superintendent of Education of the State of South Carolina

 

 

Women's wages by occupation, 1900-1909

Source for data below: Employees and Wages, a special report in the 12th Census.

  • Bakeries - Wages for females in 1890 and 1900 
  • Breweries - Wages for females in 1890 and 1900  

Unless otherwise noted, the sources for data below came from Employees and Wages, a special report in the 12th Census, and Report on condition of woman and child wage-earners in the U.S, Dept. of Labor.

Rolling cigarsRolling cigars at home in 1908. Most earned less than $8/ week.

Unless otherwise noted, the sources for data below came from Employees and Wages, a special report in the 12th Census, and Report on condition of woman and child wage-earners in the U.S, Dept. of Labor. 

Unless otherwise noted, the sources for data below came from Employees and Wages, a special report in the 12th Census, and Report on condition of woman and child wage-earners in the U.S, Dept. of Labor.

Wages by occupation (A-Z), 1900 to 1909

  • Building and construction wages, 1890-1903
    Compares wage rates in the U.S. and Europe for specific occupations, including bricklayers, carpenters, hod carriers, general laborers, house painters, plumbers, stone cutters, stone masons and more. Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin #53, pp. 724-728.
  • Building and construction wages by occupation and city, 1902-1910
    Shows wage rates for bricklayers, stone masons, structural and ornamental-iron setters, plasterers, tile setters, plumbers, steam fitters, gas fitters, carpenters, painters, stonecutters, electricians, sheet-metal workers, and cement finishers in each of 25 major American cities. Source: Congressional report, pp. 60-67.
  • Factory wages -- SEE Manufacturing wages box below.
  • Farm labor wages, 1866-1909
    Browse this book's table of contents for wage rates for all states and the US as a whole, including some rates from prior to 1866.
  • 1911 skipperFishermen might be paid partly by a share of the catch
    Farm laborers, 1818-1948
    Lists average monthly earnings with board, by geographic divisions. Data for years: 1818, 1826, 1830, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1909, 1919, 1929, 1940, 1948. Read the explanation and historical context for this table.
  • Farm hands and ranch hands - Wages, 1900-1910
    Members of the agricultural industry from select states report average wages (with and without board) per month at their farms, ranches, or dairies for the years 1900-1910.
  • Fishermen's wages, 1908
    Some fishermen received $25/month plus board valued at $10 per month.  Others were paid by the weight of the catch. See explanation in Fisheries of the United States, 1908.

See manufacturing wages in the box below.

Manufacturing wages, 1900-1909

Wages by state, 1900-1909

 

Foreign wages by country, 1900-1909

Wages in ARGENTINA, 1900s

Wages in AUSTRALIA, 1900s

Wages in AUSTRIA, 1900s

Wages in BELGIUM, 1900s

Wages in BULGARIA, 1900s

WAGES on CARIBBEAN ISLANDS, 1900s

Wages in CANADA, 1900s

Wages in ENGLAND, 1900s

See also the tab for "UK"

Wages in FINLAND, 1900s

WAGES in FRANCE, 1900s

Wages in GERMANY, 1900s

Wages in IRELAND, 1900s

WAGES in ITALY, 1900s

Wages in JAPAN, 1900s

WAGES in MEXICO, 1900s

WAGES in NEW ZEALAND, 1900s

WAGES in NORWAY, 1900s

WAGES in the PHILIPPINES, 1900s

WAGES in POLAND, 1900s

Wages in RUSSIA, 1900s

Wages in SCOTLAND, 1900s

Wages in SPAIN, 1900s

WAGES in the UNITED KINGDOM, 1900s

See also tabs for England, Scotland and Ireland

Food prices in the United States, 1900-1909

Housing and land prices, 1900-1909

1907 houseWage-earning families in industrial cities paid an average $116.55/ year ($9.71/month)
for rent in 1901.

gas fixturesA 2-light ceiling fixture cost $3.35 in 1908

Transportation costs and prices, 1900-1909

  • New car prices, 1904
    See pictures, specifications and prices in  "Pleasure Automobiles," Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly magazine, January 1904, pp. 359-374.
This Ford automobile cost $750 in 1904

 

  • Gasoline price, 1900
    Gasoline storage tank for private homes, 1901 (Source)

    In congressional testimony dated 1900, one gas engine owner reported that he expected to pay 7 or 9 cents a gallon for gasoline, but within a short time, the price had doubled. A corroborating advertisement in the July 19, 1899 issue of Horseless Age stated that gasoline "is available in almost any town at 7 cents a gallon" (see tenth point in this ad). Side note: in early years, gasoline was typically purchased from paint shops or drug stores.
  • Gasoline retail price, 1902
    Article "The Rising price of gasoline" cites the retail price of gasoline as 18¢ to 20¢ per gallon. Source: The Horseless Age, Aug 13, 1902, p. 158.
  • Gasoline retail price, April 1906
    In late April 1906, the price of gasoline for automobiles ranged from 16¢ to 21¢ per gallon. Source: Horseless Age, April 25, 1906, p. 611. col. 3.
  • Gasoline retail price, 1907
    Article suggests that gasoline could be purchased for 20¢ a gallon. Source: Scientific American, Feb 9, 1907, p. 127, c. 3.
  • Gasoline - Mileage per gallon
    The distance one could travel on a gallon of gasoline depended on the weight of the automobile, the condition of roads, the design of the vehicle itself and other factors. To find mentions of MPG in the historic literature, search for the phrase "miles to the gallon" in HathiTrust's full text search, limiting to the date range desired.  You may also ask us for assistance.

 

4-ton Mack truck priced at $4250 in 1907

 

 

 

1908 steamer trunkA steamer trunk cost around $3 to $6
in 1908.

 

 

  • Street railway fares in the U.S., 1905
    Street railway fares in major cities tended to be 3 to 4 cents per ride according to an article in the American Monthly Review of Reviews, February 1905.
  • Cab rates - St. Louis, 1903
    Cab fares for one-horse or two-horse vehicles were calculated by the mile, the hour, the number of passengers, number of stops and amount of packages. Source: The official red book; official St. Louis city guide.
  • Ferry and taxi rates
    Municipalities could set prices of some services. For example, the fee schedule to take a ferry across the river at St. Louis is detailed in the 1907 city ordinances. Contact us for ferry and taxi rates for other cities.

Merchandise prices, 1900-1909

Health and medicine prices, 1900-1909

  • Mother and babyCost to have a baby, $10 with physician or $5 with midwife
    Maryland, 1907: 
    Fee table shows price ranges for medical and surgical services. Source: Maryland Medical Journal, Dec 1907.
  • Michigan, 1907: 
    Physicians fee chart for Ionia County printed in Journal of the Michigan State Medical Society, May 1908.
  • Illinois, 1909:
    Chicago physician fees at end-of-life in "Cost of dying" chapter in Funeral Management and Costs, pp. 25-26.
  • Texas, 1905-1906:
    Physician fee tables for Llano-Mason County and Stephens County printed in Texas State Journal of Medicine, Sep 1905 and Feb 1906 issues.  In Eastland, Texas: [in 1900], "the usual charge for a doctor's visit was, on the average over the country, one dollar. Often a half-dollar was tacked on for night calls, and for mileage in the country it ran $0.50 a mile" (page 34 of source).
  • North Carolina, 1909:
    Physician fees for many counties appear in the proceedings of the Medical Society of North Carolina's 56th annual meeting.  Anson, Beaufort, CatawbaDurham, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Montgomery, Wilkes, Wilson, and more, pp. 685-725.

More prices in the U.S., 1900-1909

Telephone

Telegraph

Quotable fact: In the 1900-1909 decade, less than 5% of people age 18-21 attended college. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education.

OTHER COLLEGE EXPENSES

Cost of living and consumer expenditures, 1900-1909

Prices in Great Britain, 1900-1909

More foreign prices by country, 1900-1909

Prices in ARGENTINA, 1900s

Prices in AUSTRALIA, 1900s

Prices in AUSTRIA, 1900s

Prices in BELGIUM, 1900s

Prices in CANADA, 1900s

Prices in FRANCE, 1900s

Prices in GERMANY, 1900s

Prices in HUNGARY, 1900s

Prices in INDIA, 1900s

Prices in IRELAND, 1900s

Prices in ITALY, 1900s

Prices in MEXICO, 1900s

Prices in POLAND, 1900s

Prices in the PHILIPPINES, 1900s

Prices in RUSSIA, 1900s

Prices in SWEDEN, 1900s

Sources showing prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1900s

Quotable facts for the 1900-1909 decade

In the United States...

  • Wage-earning men made an average of $11.16 per week in 1905. Source: Census.
  • Wage-earning women made an average of $6.17 per week in 1905. Source: Census.
  • Solid gold wedding rings were priced at $4.76 in the 1908 Sears catalog (source).
  • Black-owned farms had an average value of $434 according to the 1900 Census.
  • College tuition was free at the U of MO in 1900.  Dorms cost $12-$28/year.
  • Milk cost 14¢ per half gallon in 1900. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee averaged 23¢ per pound in 1900. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Around 4,200 passenger cars were manufactured in the year 1900 (source), when the U.S. population was 76.3 million (source). 
  • Selected occupational earnings in 1900:
    • Shoemakers earned about $2.40 per day. Source: U.S. BLS
    • Carpenters earned $750 per year. Source
    • Engineers earned $1,050 per year. Source
  • In 1903, an estimated 15,000 Americans had a net worth of $300,000 or more. Source: Financial Red Book preface.
  • Life expectancy was 48.2 years for males and 50.7 for females in 1900. Source: BLS

Tools, calculators, and exchange rates, 1900-1909

Timeline -- Major economic events of the 1900s

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1900

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1901

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1902

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1904

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1905

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1906

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1907

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1908

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1909

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

Legend

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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department, Ellis Library
University of Missouri, Columbia
Email: concannonm@missouri.edu
Phone (573) 882-0748