1909 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1909 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Top Ten Baby Names of 1909

Mary, Helen, Margaret, Ruth, Dorothy, John, William, James, George, Robert

US Life Expectancy

Men: 50.5 years Women:53.8 years  

Firsts, Inventions and Wonders

Condé Montrose Nast founded Condé Nast Inc..

Maksymilian Faktorowicz founded Max Factor.

The first pig to fly was on November 4, 1909. Pioneering English aviator John Moore-Brabazon (The 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara) passed overhead with the pig in a basket, attached to his plane.

The “customer is always right” slogan was created by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London, in 1909 to provide better customer service.

Carlisle Trust Bank opened the first Christmas Club, saving money for Christmas gifts.

The Oval Office was constructed in 1909.

Philadelphia’s Shibe Park (later Connie Mack Stadium) opened.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed.

The Hudson Motor Car Company (1909 – 1954) was founded.

New York was first mentioned as “The Big Apple” in the 1909 book The Wayfarer in New York by Edward S. Martin.

Soren Sorensen created the pH scale in 1909 while working for Carlsberg Beer. The development was used to control the beer’s acidity and minimize fermentation problems.

Abercrombie & Fitch published their first catalog.

The superstition that said “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” when waking on the first day of the month to bring good luck originated in 1909.

The first president to drive an electric car was William Howard Taft.

364,545 Pianos were sold in the United States, a record.

The Most Popular Singers and Artists of 1909 include

Henry Burr, Arthur Collins, Byron G. Harlan, The Hayden Quartet, Ralph Herz, Harold Jarvis, Ada Jones, Harry Lauder, Harry Macdonugh, Billy Murray, Will Oakland, The Peerless Quartet, Prince’s Orchestra, Arthur Pryor’s Band, Blanche Ring, Manuel Romain, John Philip Sousa’s Band, Frank Stanley, Elise Stevenson, Harry Tally, Nat Wills, Walter Van Brunt

US Politics

March 4, 1909 (Thursday) Inauguration of William Howard Taft

Pop Culture Facts & History

The Eiffel Tower was initially planned to be demolished in 1909 but was saved because it was re-purposed as a giant radio antenna. In 1913, the tower transmitted a signal to Washington DC.

Alice Ramsey was the first woman to drive across the United States, in 1909. It took her 59 days.

Harry Houdini wrote a book in 1909 called “Handcuff Secrets,” in which he revealed many of the tricks behind his famous escapes.

Henry Ford offered his Model T automobile a few options. “Any customer can have a car painted any color they like, as long as it’s black.”

Joan of Arc receives beatification by the Roman Catholic Church. She was canonized as a saint on May 16, 1920.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex was built in 1909, and the Indianapolis 500 started in 1911.

Ty Cobb lead the American League in home runs, without hitting a single one over the fence.

Warren Remedy (1905-1912), a Smooth Fox Terrier owned by Winthrop Rutherfurd, was awarded Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club for the third straight year in a row (1907, 1908, 1909), the only dog to do so.

The 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is the highest-valued card ever, last auctioned off at over $2.1 million in 2012. He ended the production of his card because a tobacco company distributed them, and he didn’t want to be associated with smoking.

The first International Women’s Day was a socialist political event in New York City in 1909.

The world’s oldest operating airport, College Park, Maryland, was established when Wilbur Wright arrived to train two US Army officers.

Founded in 1902, Cadillac joined General Motors.

The Eton Wall Game is played on a narrow strip 110 meters long up against a wall. Moving the ball along the wall with your feet and scoring a goal at the far end is the idea. Goals are scarce; the last one scored was at the annual St Andrew’s Day match in 1909. Other matches end up with a goal every ten years or so.

Construction of the US Navy base began at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) predicted his death in 1909: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” He died in 1910, a day after the comet returned.

There is a conspiracy theory that Egyptian treasures and tunnels were found in the Grand Canyon in 1909 and subsequently covered up by the Smithsonian. The area in question has numerous Egyptian landmark names and is currently off-limits to all hikers.

In 1909, the presidential salary was $75,000. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $1.7 million, or more than four times the current presidential pay of $400,000.

The US government had a “Conscience Fund” where people could send money if they felt guilty. The most considerable sum ever received was from 1909 when someone mailed in $18,669.

The Tragedy

The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster in Illinois killed 259 men and boys.

The Legacy

Milton Hershey’s inability to have children founded the Milton Hershey School for Orphans in 1909. He donated 30% of all future Hershey profits. It now has 7 billion in assets and continues to serve orphans in financial need. Milton also prohibited its use in any advertising.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Guglielmo Marconi and Karl Ferdinand Braun
Chemistry – Wilhelm Ostwald
Medicine – Emil Theodor Kocher
Literature – Selma Lagerlöf
Peace – Auguste Marie François Beernaert and Paul-Henri-Benjamin d’Estournelles de Constant

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1909

Fiction Bestsellers

1. The Inner Shrine by Basil King
2. Katrine by Elinor Macartney Lane
3. The Silver Horde by Rex Beach
4. The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart
5. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by John Fox Jr
6. Truxton King by George Barr McCutcheon
7. 54-40 or Fight by Emerson Hough
8. The Goose Girl by Harold MacGrath
9. Peter by F. Hopkinson Smith
10. Septimus by William J. Locke

Other Books of Note

The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly
A Pluralistic Universe by William James
American Prose Masters by W.C. Brownell


World Series Champions: Pittsburgh Pirates
Challenge Cup Champs: Ottawa Hockey Club
U.S. Open Golf: George Sargent
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): William Larned/Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Arthur Gore/Dora Boothby
NCAA Football Champions: Yale
Kentucky Derby Winner: Wintergreen
Boston Marathon Winner: Henri Renaud Time: 2:53:36

More 1909 History Resources

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us) 
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1909
1909 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com 
1909 in Movies (according to IMDB) 
Wikipedia 1909