History 101 4/8/2009 Middle Class Life, 1870-1917 Middle Class Life, 1870-1917 During the late eighteenth century and early twentieth century, The United States became an industrialized and urbanized nation. With the rapid growth of railroads, industries have expanded their businesses throughout the nation. During this time, the urban population increased tremendously, and more than half of the Americans lived in cities. The cost of life in cities was more expensive compared to rural areas. Therefore, families had to bring more income to the house.
Most families strove to achieve the standard of middle class, which led many people to embrace an optimistic attitude and to focus on the acquisition of material possessions. The progress of manufacturers made it possible to produce new products that were economically affordable for the middle class. As a result, the middle class had the possibility to furnish their house in the same style as the wealthy. With the advances of the technology more new products were distributed and put within the reach of the poorest Americans.
The differences of classes showed in their life style, and were based on what they had and things they were surrounded by such as clothes, automobile, and houses. Most companies used advertisements to increase their sales and make their products accessible to distinct areas throughout the nation. Source 12 from a 1912 advertisement shows different watch chains that classify a typical American man, with an elegant and superior style, compared to a poor hard working man who does not wear this kind of jewelry.
This advertisement was more directed to the middle class who wanted to have a different looks from the poor people, and have more similarities to the wealthy people in the ways they look. The ad for the watch chains quotes “These are the watch chains now worn by men who set the styles. ” This is a positive ad, because it would make other look at this person more sophisticated and more respectful. During this time the impression of having a gentlemanly appearance by wearing more fancy clothes made people feel more important and gave them the positivism to achieve their goal to become wealthy.
The advertisement influenced people’s vision, ideas and dreams. The ad shows pictures of people that were well dressed, giving the impression of being wealthy, and whoever wants to have the style would have been possible by acquiring this watch chain that makes a person unique with a perfect style. Source 13 from 1916 advertisement sells guns and the ad shows pictures of how useful a gun can be for protecting people against thief and for a personal protection. This advertisement is a negative advertisement, because it points out the fear that people can go through if do not acquire a gun for their own protection.
As well there is a story that says that a jewelry store was liable to robbery at any time, but the owner always carried two guns: one in the safe box and the other under the counter. He knew that his store could be “picked up” any time and when it happened he used his gun and since then he never was assaulted of robbery. During the early twenty century many little businesses increased. The difficulty of having a good life standard led many people to commit burglary, which caused many robberies to little businesses such as jewelry stores.
We can see that the delinquency was mostly in big cities, for consequence the solution to protect personal interests reflects in the acquisition of a gun. Mostly this ad was directed to men, because the men were the householder and the one with the responsibility to protect the family interest, not only in stores, but also in the house against burglar who may intend to enter into the house. Source 20, from a 1907 and 1912 advertisements is about ford automobile (1907) and electric cars for women (1912). The cars were an innovation in this early century.
Many people wanted to enjoy the middle class life. Therefore, many middle class people who had the opportunity to buy those cars were persuaded by the advertisement of this fabulous product that overwhelmed the whole nation. This was a positive advertisement that benefits the buyer for owning this product. The benefit was direct because the buyer was the first beneficiary of this luxury, which elevated more the status of the person. Many car owners could have used the automobiles for transportation to their jobs and for personal used. Both situations gave the car owner a higher status in their society.
The automobile advertisement wanted also to convince the women to buy these cars, which the ad specifies the easy way to drive an electric car. In addition, the ad mentions that this car uses electric lights that compare to the lights at home. During this time in a middle class family both husbands and wives were workers that provided income for the family, so having a car to transport them to their jobs was necessary. The production of this fabulous device also gave the people the opportunity to travel to further places for obtaining other jobs.
Source 22 from 1884 and 1908 advertisements focuses on home appliances for American houses. The specific targets were housewives that during this time they were primarily responsible for cooking, washing clothes and other duties. As companies produced new tools that helped American families, the lives of many American wives were much easier. The companies that sold stoves simplified the way to cook. With the use of the stove, the meals were cooked faster, easier and were healthy, and these were the reasons why they bought it.
The other product that was listed in this source was the electric washer and wringer; this electric washer had the idea of substituting the heavy job of hand washing clothes for this electric washer. Also the ad mentions the benefits that a home can have for using this electric washer, such as the money that was used to be paid to the servant who did the laundry, and the longer time the clothes lasted by using this electric washer, and the constancy of having clean blankets, clothes, laces, linens and others fabrics.
This is the first Ad that gave a 30 days’ free trial and the freight is prepaid. What better deal was there that this offer to convince the audience to purchase this product? Both the stove and the electric washer use the combination of both the positive and the negative advertisement. Not also does it benefit directly for owning this product, but also for avoiding doing some extra heavy jobs and saving some money in a long term. These two products showed how the middle class introduced in their lifestyles affordable accommodations and access to purchase these products.
Source 27 from a ladies’ home journal advertisement, 1909 indicates the prosperity of a young couple that could achieve their dreams of buying a house. The advertisement has some text about some customers that have purchased their home by paying seven or eight dollars a week until the house is already paid off. The advertisement states that the buyer who makes fifteen dollars a week can make this dream possible. This advertisement was positive because it gave the buyer all the benefits directly, the opportunity of having your own house.
In this period United States had developed big constructive companies, which explains how the economy was growing. The possibility to purchase a house in the city was more expensive but in rural areas the prices were totally lower. And with the use of transportation people could live in rural areas and go to work in the cities. Source 32, from shoppell’s modern houses, 1900 is more directed for middle class such as lawyers, doctors, bank tellers, and even teachers. The progress that this people have made during this time shows the increment in their income, which put them at a level of respectful people.
The price for this house was quite high for unskilled men that were exploited in the factories. But the middle class has the potential to purchase this marvelous home for $ 3,600. The advertisement was positive with direct benefit of owning a property. The home was supplemented with a house plan which gave details and specific measurements of every single are inside the house. This means that the house was designed by an architect and it would have been built by a construction company. More professionalism is found in this advertisement, and it shows the progress of many people who are now living as middle class.
In conclusion, these advertisements show the rapid crescent of the economy during the late nineteen century. New products were created and new innovations distributed their products to places throughout the nation. The differences between classes were very peculiar, people with better status wanted to look different from those who are not. The development of new jobs made possible for people to satisfy their needs such as house, clothes, and other devices that would have been necessary during that period.
All these differents advertisements can explain how the people and the country were going through so many changes. The rapid growth of the manufacturers made it possible to produce products faster and for a cheaper cost, so the people may purchase products at a lower price. Manufacturers and people were in a cyclical relation, because the manufacturers needed to sell their products to the consumer and the expansion of jobs made it possible for a person who worked to purchase the product. So, hand in hand, both made possible the rapid growth of the economy.