1903 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1903 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Top Ten Baby Names of 1903

Mary, Helen, Anna, Margaret, Ruth, John, William, James, George, Charles

US Life Expectancy

(1903) Males: 49.1 years, Females: 52.0 years

Firsts, Inventions and Wonders

The Great Train Robbery is considered the first American Action/Western film. The first stuntman was ex-US cavalryman, Frank Hanaway,  in this Edwin S. Porter film, for his ability to fall off a horse without injuring himself.

Mary Anderson from Alabama patented (#743,801) windshield wipers in 1903.

Joseph Pulitzer donated $1 million to Columbia University, founding the Pulitzer Prize.

The Tour de France bicycle race was organized.

Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland premiered in the Chicago Grand Opera, and later in New York. You have probably heard March of the Toys at Christmastime.

On April 22, the American Power Boat Association was formed.

The first box of Crayola crayons sold for 5 cents. It contained eight colors: brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and black.

The Ford Motor Company under Henry Ford incorporated.

Enrico Caruso, the operatic tenor voice of his era, made his US debut at the Metropolitan Opera House, NY, in Rigoletto.

New York’s original Lyric Theater opened at 213 W 42nd St., with Richard Mansfield’s production of Old Heidelberg.

Lyceum Theater (New Lyceum) at 149 W 45th St NYC and New Amsterdam Theater at 214 W 42nd St NYC also opened.

“Baked by Electricity” Triscuit Crackers were introduced.

The Oxnard strike of 1903 was the first time in US history that a labor union was formed from members of different racial groups (Japanese and Mexican workers).

The Most Popular Singers and Artists of 1903 include

George Alexander, Joe Belmont, John Bieling, Henry Burr, Arthur Collins, The Columbia Orchestra, Byron G. Harlan, The Hayden Quartet, Mina Hickman, J. Aldrich Libbey, Harry Macdonough, J.W. Meyers, Billy Murray, Dan Quinn, Bob Roberts, John Philip Sousa’s Band, Len Spencer, Cal Stewart, William H. Thompson

Pop Culture Facts & History

President Teddy Roosevelt and wilderness advocate John Muir visited Yosemite Valley in 1903, inspiring the US National Park System.

Topsy, her owners electrocuted the elephant at Luna Park, Coney Island, and filmed by Edison Manufacturing movie company in Edison’s effort to show the safety of Direct Current vs Alternating Current.

Monopoly was created to expose the unfairness of a social system where a small minority takes advantage of the majority of tenants,  in The Landlord’s Game.

John Pemberton included coca leaves as an ingredient in his 1886 soft drink, Coca-Cola, but removed the cocaine from the soft drink in 1903.

1903’s Alice in Wonderland was an early film adaptation of the book.

The Wizard of Oz, the first musical version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book, was produced by L. Frank Baum and W.W. Denslow (music by Paul Tietjens) in Chicago in 1902 and moved to New York in 1903.

Guantanamo Bay is leased by the US against Cuba’s wishes, based on the Cuban-American Treaty, signed in 1903. A $4,085 is sent annually to a position that has not existed since 1959 and was only cashed once in 1959 by mistake. The treaty allows Guantanamo Bay to be leased to the United States “in perpetuity.”

Horatio Nelson Jackson, with driving partner Sewall K. Crocker, were the first to drive cross country (San Francisco to New York City) in an automobile.

The New York Times predicted that building a flying machine would be possible in 1-10 Million years.

Traian Vuia, a Romanian Engineer, presented his flying machine plan to the Académie des Sciences in Paris, but was rejected with the comment: “The problem of flight with a machine which weighs more than air can not be solved, and it is only a dream.”

The first flight of the Wright Flyer I took place on December 17, 1903. Orville Wright piloted, and Wilbur ran (safety) at the wingtip.

A barge, The Harold, tipped somewhere off the coast of Staten Island, sending most of its 7,700 silver-and-lead bars to the bottom. Most bars were recovered immediately, but about 1,400 bars were never recovered.

The Horrible

Wreck of the Old 97- involved the Southern Railway Fast Mail train en route from Monroe, Virginia, to Spencer, North Carolina, on September 27, 1903. Eleven people were killed and seven injured. It is also the basis for one of the first Dirge Pop Songs. You probably know the melody.

The Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago killed over 600 people.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Antoine Henri Becquerel, Pierre Curie, and Marie Curie
Chemistry – Svante August Arrhenius
Medicine – Niels Ryberg Finsen
Literature – Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Peace – William Randal Cremer

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1903

Fiction Bestsellers

1. Lady Rose’s Daughter by Mary Augusta Ward
2. Gordon Keith by Thomas Nelson Page
3. The Pit by Frank Norris
4. Lovey Mary by Alice Hegan Rice
5. The Virginian by Owen Wister
6. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice
7. The Mettle of the Pasture by James Lane Allen
8. Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer
9. The One Woman by Thomas Dixon Jr
10. The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox Jr

Other Books of Note

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Studies in Logical Theory by John Dewey
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Mental Traits of Sex by Helen Thompson Wooley
Principles of Mathematics by Bertrand Russell
Principia Ethica by G.E. Moore
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
The Ambassadors by Henry James
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller


American League Baseball Champions: Boston Americans
National League Baseball Champions: Pittsburg Pirates
Challenge Cup Champs: Montreal/Ottawa Hockey Clubs
U.S. Open Golf: Willie Anderson
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): Laurence Doherty/Elisabeth Moore
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Laurence Doherty/Dorothea Douglass
NCAA Football Champions: Princeton & Michigan
Kentucky Derby Winner: Judge Himes
Boston Marathon Winner: John Lorden Time: 2:41:2

More 1903 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us) 
Broadway Shows that opened in 1903
1903 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com 
Fact Monster 
1903 in Movies (according to IMDB) 
Wikipedia 1903