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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

1902-1903 Profiles1



A Working-Class Family in 19022

Annual income for a second-generation working-class Irish family of seven living in the Boston, MA area was $1,071. The father earned $612.00 a year, or $12.37 a week. His 16-year-old son earned $258.00 annually. A boarder, a woman employed at a downtown department store, payed the family $195.00 a year, which included meals. The family was composed of three adults, three children under the age of 14, and one child over the age of 16. The father was employed as a loom fixer in a textile mill.

Annual Family Budget (1902)
Amusements and Travel $20.00
Clothing $115.00
Education $15.00
Fuel and Light $57.00
Furniture $20.00
Groceries $286.00
Insurance $9.00
Meat, Fish, and Ice $182.00
Milk $44.00
Newspaper $12.00
Personal Expenditures $52.00
Religion and Charity $18.00
Sickness and Funeral $30.00
Societies and Unions $15.00
Total $875.00

A Middle-Class Family in 19033

In 1903, the manager of manufacturing factory in the village of Lakeville, Connecticut had an annual income of 1,530. Compare this to the expenditures typically experienced by families in New England with incomes of more than $1,200:

Annual Budget for a Middle Class Family (1903)
Amusements and Travel for Recreation $20.13
Clothing $183.12
Education $12.50
Fuel and Light $56.31
Furniture and Household Furnishings $28.75
Groceries $355.88
Insurance $34.40
Meat, Fish, and Ice $194.25
Milk $40.24
Newspapers and Periodicals $11.49
Personal Expenses $88.37
Religion and Charity $20.38
Sickness and Funeral $45.63
Societies and Unions $12.85
Other $70.57
Rent $85.12
Travel to and from Work $12.60
Total $1,272.59

Income of Standard Jobs in 19034

Average of all Industries, Excluding Farm Labor $543
Average of all Industries, Including Farm Labor $489
Bituminous Coal Mining $734
Building Trades, Union Workers $1,059
Clerical Workers in Manufacturing $1,037
Domestics $270
Farm Labor $277
Federal Civilian $1,009
Federal Employees, Executive Departments $1,067
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate $1,078
Lower-Skilled Labor $501
Manufacturing, Payroll $541
Manufacturing, Union Workers $989
Medical/Health Services Workers $275
Ministers $761
Nonprofit Organization Workers $679
Postal Employees $924
Public School Teachers $358
State and Local Government Workers $621
Steam Railroads, Wage Earners $593
Street Railways Workers $582
Telegraph Industry Workers $573
Telephone Industry Workers $379
Wholesale and Retail Trade Workers $537

Selected Prices of Everyday Items (1903)5

Applewood Pipe $0.04
Castoria $0.35
Coffee per Pound $0.13
Curtains, per Pair $3.50
Fleece-Lined Undervest $0.39
Garden Hose, ½", per Foot $0.10
Hammer, Sears & Roebuck, 1 ½", 1 lb. $0.53
Hotel Room, per Day $2.00
Man's Suit, Fitzmaurice $8.50
Palm Reading, Half-Hour $2.00
Petroleum Jelly $0.04
Prunes $0.10
Sheet, 81"x90" $0.98
Shotgun $27.75
Silk Elastic Belt $0.50
Silver Thimble $0.15

Notes:

  • 1. These average incomes/expenditures are those of residents of New England a few years after the Exposition. It is assumed that such figures may varied by geographic region and that the averages might have changed slightly from those of 1901. However, the profile listings are sufficient to give some perspective to the prices charged at the Pan-American Exposition relative to the average family budget of a visitor.
  • From Working Americans, 1880-1999, edited by Scott Derks (Lakeville, Connecticut: Grey House Pub., 2000- ), Vol. I: The Working Class, pp. 57-58, 60.
  • From Working Americans, 1880-1999, edited by Scott Derks (Lakeville, Connecticut: Grey House Pub., 2000- ), Vol. II: The Middle Class, pp. 53-54, 62.
  • Ibid.
  • Ibid.