1917 History, Fun Facts and Trivia

1917 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Top Ten Baby Names of 1917

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

US Life Expectancy

(1917) Males: 48.4 years, Females: 54.0 years

Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders

Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit, Michigan

The term “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” was popularized by cereal companies’ marketing campaigns after appearing in Good Health Magazine.

At Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, the modern concept of a grocery store, where you get items off the shelf yourself, wasn’t invented until 1917.

The Converse All-Star “Chuck Taylor” Basketball Shoe was first produced in 1917.

The first use of OMG was in Lord Fisher’s September 9, 1917, letter to Winston Churchill.

Melvin Jones founded Lions Clubs International.

The Most Popular Singers and Artists of 1917 include

The American Quartet, Elsie Baker, Bora Bayes, Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Byron G. Harlan, Marion Harris, Charles Harrison, Al Jolson, Ada Jones, Lucy Isabelle Marsh, John McCormack, Billy Murray, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, The Peerless Quartet, Prince’s Orchestra, Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra, John Philip Sousa’s Band, The Sterling Trio, Van & Schenck, The Victor Military Band, Weber & Fields, Reinald Werrenrath, Anna Wheaton

US Politics

March 5, 1917 (Monday): Second inauguration of Woodrow Wilson

Pop Culture Facts & History

Jeannette Rankin, the first Congresswoman, served just two non-consecutive terms, starting in 1917 and 1941 and was the only person to vote against the declaration of war in both WWI and WWII.

A bank in Utah was built using 80,000 bricks mailed via USPS in 50-pound packages to save on freight costs. The post office changed parcel post rules after that.

Cape Canaveral is part of the Diocese of Orlando, making its Bishop technically Bishop of the Moon, according to the 1917 Code of Canon Law (“any newly discovered territory was placed under the jurisdiction of the diocese from which the expedition which discovered that territory left”).

The Miracle of the Sun occurred in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 and was accepted as a miracle by the Catholic Church in 1930. At least 30,000 people gathered to see a multicolored sun dancing in the sky.

The United States purchased the Danish West Indies for $25,000,000 and renamed them the Virgin Islands.

The Royal Family officially adopted ‘Windsor’ as their surname in 1917.

WWI News:

The model for Uncle Sam on the famous 1917 post I Want You is the face of the painter, James Montgomery Flagg. For effect, he aged his portrait and added the goatee beard. Flagg used his picture to avoid the need to find a model. It was partially inspired by a British recruitment poster showing Lord Kitchener in a similar pose.

US troops in Paris stopped at the grave (composed of soil from the United States) of French Revolutionary War Hero, Marquis de Lafayette, and proclaimed, “Lafayette, we are here!”

The Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 enabled the U.S. government to seize private assets worth millions of dollars, including Bayer’s trademark on Aspirin.

The Disaster

The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, that killed 2000 people and injured 9,000.

Fake News

The Cottingley Fairies appeared in a series of five photographs taken by cousins Elsie Wright (1901–88) and Frances Griffiths (1907–86)

Emily Grant Hutchings tried to release a “Mark Twain” novel called Jap Herron after his death, claiming the dead author dictated the book using an Ouija board.

Journalist H.L. Mencken published a hoax news article stating bathtubs were popularized in the US by President Millard Fillmore after he had one installed in the White House. Thirty years later, even after he admitted it was false, it was still being reprinted as fact.

Spanish Flu

The 1918 Spanish Flu killed so many people in the US that it caused the average life expectancy in males to drop from 48.4 to 36.6 and 54.0 to 42.2 in females between 1917 and 1918.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Charles Glover Barkla
Chemistry – not awarded
Medicine – not awarded
Literature – Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan
Peace – International Committee of the Red Cross

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1917

Fiction Bestsellers

1. Mr. Britling Sees It Through, by H.G. Wells
2. The Light in the Clearing, by Irving Bacheller
3. The Red Planet by William J. Locke
4. The Road to Understanding by Eleanor H. Porter
5. Wildfire by Zane Grey
6. Christine by Alice Cholmondeley
7. In the Wilderness by Robert S. Hichens
8. His Family by Ernest Poole
9. The Definite Object by Jeffrey Farnol
10. The Hundredth Chance by Ethel M. Dell

General Nonfiction Bestsellers

1. Rhymes of a Red Cross Man by Robert W. Service
2. The Plattsburg Manual by O.O. Ellis and E.B. Garey
3. Raymond by Sir Oliver Lodge,
4. Poems of Alan Seeger by Alan Seeger
5. God the Invisible King by H.G. Wells
6. Laugh and Live by Douglas Fairbanks
7. Better Meals for Less Money by Mary Green

War Nonfiction Bestsellers

1. The First Hundred Thousand by Ian Hay
2. My Home in the Field of Honor by Frances W. Huard
3. A Student in Arms by Donald Hankey
4. Over the Top by Arthur Guy Empey
5. Carry On by Coningsby Dawson
6. Getting Together by Ian Hay
7. My Second Year of the War by Frederick Palmer
8. The Land of Deepening Shadow by D. Thomas Curtin
9. Italy, France and Britain at War by H.G. Wells
10. The Worn Doorstep by Margaret Sherwood

Other Books of Note

On Growth and Form by D’Arcy Wentworth Thomas
A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch
A Book of Prefaces by H.L. Mencken
Social Rule by Elsie Clewes Parsons
Prufrock by T.S. Eliot


World Series Champions: Chicago White Sox
Stanley Cup Champs: Seattle Metropolitans
U.S. Open Golf: not held (WWI)
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): Robert Lindley Murray/Molla Bjurstedt
Wimbledon (Men/Women): not held (WWI)
NCAA Football Champions: Georgia Tech
Kentucky Derby Winner: Omar Khayyam
Boston Marathon Winner: Bill Kennedy Time: 2:28:37

More 1917 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us) 
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1917
1917 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com 
Fact Monster 
1917 in Movies (according to IMDB) 
Wikipedia 1917