With the price of gas and food and a recent costly car repair, I was thinking about how the cost of living impacted my ancestors, compared to how it is impacting us today. Let’s look at a fun site that helps us explore this topic.
The People History site has a wealth of information about prices, popular culture and key events by year and decade. It is fun to look at what was important in the different decades. How did these events shape our ancestors’ lives?
According to The People History from 1800 to Present day News, Prices, Popular Culture and More, the average salary in 1937 was $1780. As a sign of the times, that’s close to what I recently paid for a car repair. Yikes. Comparing today’s prices to prices in the 1930s is like comparing apples to oranges but there are tools out there to help us understand.
Here is a fun page that compares the prices of basic items across the decades: The Changing Prices of stuff in 90 years comparison of prices over the last 90yrs (thepeoplehistory.com). They haven’t updated the information to 2022 yet. I imagine the changes seen in the last year will be interesting. I noticed that the average prices of many items were higher in 2013 than in 2021. I don’t remember the year 2013 being more expensive but it looks like on average many items were higher in price. As we have all experienced price increased in everyday products.
Another way to look at the prices is located on this page: Our Current Price Basket of Goods, Services and Cost Of Living (thepeoplehistory.com). Taking commonly purchased items, this unscientific look at inflation and changes to costs is readily available in a table or in detail.
In addition to all the information on the history of prices, you can view by the decade the top world events, popular movies & books, new inventions and other key milestones of a particular year or decade. Events, Culture and Prices organized by year and decade in modern History (thepeoplehistory.com) is a quick way to access information specific to a year or decade.
In addition to the above, check out their sections on music, food, sports, toys, and quizzes. As you continue to work on your family history and write down the stories and events in their lives, think about ways that you can include information about the cost of goods, current events, fashion, and sports to round out their story. Remember that the information needs to be relevant to their story rather than random facts. Enjoy delving into this interesting site!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.