1920 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

1920 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1920:

  • World Changing Event: US Senate rejected the Versailles Treaty, effectively nullifying the League of Nations.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was established.
  • On September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded on Wall Street outside the NYSE building, killing 33 people and injuring more than 400. The perpetrators were never found.
  • Influential Songs include: I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time by Charles Harrison and others. Also: Swanee, written by George Gershin and recorded by Al Jolson
  • The Movies to Watch include The Mark of Zorro, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Al Jolson
  • Price of Wrigley’s Doublemint gum in 1920: 5 cents/pack
  • The Funny Fat Guy was: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
  • The Other Funny Guy was: Harold Lloyd
  • The Magazine Cover: National Geographic magazine was the first US publisher to establish a color photo lab in 1920, the first to publish underwater color photographs in 1927, the first to print an all-color issue in 1962 and the first to print a hologram in 1984.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1920: Mary, Dorothy, Helen, Margaret, Ruth, John, William, Robert, James, Charles

US Life Expectancy: (1920) Males: 53.6 years, Females: 54.6 years

The Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Olive Thomas

Firsts, Inventions and Wonders:
Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term transsexualism.

The National Football League (NFL) was established on August 20, 1920.

Jesse Langsdorf patented the all-weather and wrinkle-free necktie.

The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago.

Both “googol” and “googolplex” were coined by the 9-year-old nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner in 1920. He defined a googol as 10^100 and a googolplex as “one, followed by writing zeroes until you get tired”. Kasner decided to standardize it and set a googolplex equal to 10^googol instead.

The Ford Motor Company produced so much factory wood waste that they manufactured it into charcoal and sold it under the name Ford Charcoal. The company was later renamed to Kingsford Charcoal.

Snap-on Tools, with interchangable sockets, began being sold in Chicago.

On May 2, the first game of Negro National League baseball was played, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Nikolai Tesla patented a one-way-valve with no moving parts in 1920 (#1,329,559).

During prohibition, an exemption was made for whiskey prescribed by a doctor and sold through a pharmacy. The Walgreens pharmacy chain grew from 20 retail stores to almost 400 during this period, from 1920 to 1933.

The biggest Pop Artists of 1920 include:
The All-Star Trio, Nora Bayes, Paul Biese Trio, Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Eddie Cantor, Frank Crumit, Carl Fenton and His Orchestra, Marion Harris, Charles Harrison, Charles Hart, Art Hickman & His Orchestra, Al Jolson, Isham Jones and His Orchestra, Irving Kaufman, Ted Lewis & His Band, John McCormack, Billy Murray, Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra, Mamie Smith & Her Jazz Hounds, Elizabeth Spencer, John Steel, Van & Schenck, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, Bert Williams
Charts based on Billboard music charts.

Pop Culture News:
Hollywood’s first ‘super couple’ was Douglas Fairbanks and Mary ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Pickford, married 1920, and divorced in 1936. Both were huge stars in the silent film industry, but they were also significant players behind the scene. In 1919, along with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, founded United Artists, one of the first movie distribution companies. They appeared in one film together – 1929’s Taming of the Shrew. The couple was also the first to officially handprint by Grauman’s Chinese Theater (1927), the first in Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’.

Shipping children through parcel post service was initially legal in the United States. The US Post Office banned the practice in 1920.

The first US postage stamps printed without the words United States or US.

Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson used tape and cotton gauze to make a bandage for his wife. He told his bosses about it, they made him a VP, and they named it the ‘Band-Aid.’ It worked out well for all concerned.

Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

There are more trees in America today than 1920, mainly due the reversion of farmland back to natural land cover.

During the campaign of 1920, President Warren G. Harding was accused of making up a word: normalcy. When asked if he instead meant “normality,” Harding responded “I have looked for ‘normality’ in my dictionary and I do not find it there. ‘Normalcy’, however, I did find, and it is a good word.” #normalcy was used in the 1850s however.

Tuition at Stanford University was free up until 1920.

American socialist candidate, Eugene V. Debs, ran his campaign from the inside of a jail cell with the slogan “Vote for President Convict #9653” and he garnered almost a million write-in votes in 1920

Drano became available to start unclogging household drains and toilets.

When the spitball was banned from baseball in 1920, 17 pitchers were grandfathered in and the last legal spitball was thrown in 1933.

National Geographic magazine was the first US publisher to establish a color-photo lab in 1920, the first to publish underwater color photographs in 1927, the first to print an all-color issue in 1962, and the first to print a hologram in 1984.

February 14th – The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago. Also that year, the Republican convention in Chicago endorsed woman’s suffrage.

The word ‘robot’ was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), He credited his brother, Josef Capek, with the word later.

The first primitive models of the TV were invented.

A Secret Court, headed by university President Abbott Lawrence Lowell and the acting Dean, was convened at Harvard University to rid the school of homosexuals, resulting in nine expulsions

Eddie Eagan is the only athlete to have won gold for different events at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, winning his first while boxing in 1920, and his second while on the 4-man bobsled in 1932.

America’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade, 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade (AKA 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade, 6abc Boscov’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Channel 6 Mellon PSFS Thanksgiving Day Parade, Channel 6 MasterCard Thanksgiving Day Parade) and originally the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade was first held.


Jimmy, a canary, had a funeral procession was led by a 15 piece band, a white hearse to carry the body, and two coaches for 2 miles that was viewed 10,000 people along the funeral route.

On September 16, 1920, a horse-drawn wagon filled with explosives was blown up on Wall Street in NYC, killing 38 people and injuring hundreds. The perpetrators were never caught.

Thomas Edison pranked The American Magazine (and its readers) by claiming that he had invented a phone that could contact the spirit world.

Nobel Prize Winners:
Physics – Charles Édouard Guillaume
Chemistry – Walther Nernst
Medicine – Schack August Steenberg Krogh
Literature – Knut Hamsun
Peace – Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois

1st appearances & 1920’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts:
Raggedy Andy, wooden Pogo Sticks, Lionel Trains became the rage

Popular and Notable Books From 1920:

A Man for the Ages by Irving Bacheller
The Great Impersonation by E. Phillips Oppenheim
Kindred of the Dust by Peter B. Kyne
The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey
Mary-Marie by Eleanor H. Porter
Harriet and the Piper by Kathleen Norris
The Lamp in the Desert by Ethel M. Dell
The Portygee by Joseph C. Lincoln
The Re-Creation of Brian Kent by Harold Bell Wright
The River’s End by James Oliver Curwood

1920 United States Census:
Total US Population: 106,021,537
1. New York, New York – 5,620,048
2. Chicago, Illinois – 2,701,705
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 1,823,779
4. Detroit, Michigan – 993,069
5. Cleveland, Ohio – 796,841
6. St. Louis, Missouri – 772,897
7. Boston, Massachusetts – 748,060
8. Baltimore, Maryland – 733,826
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 588,343
10. Los Angeles, California – 576,673

World Series Champions: Cleveland Indians
Stanley Cup Champs: Ottawa Senators (NHL)
U.S. Open Golf: Edward (Ted) Ray
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): William (Bill) T. Tilden/Molla B. Mallory
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Bill Tilden/Suzanne Lenglen
NCAA Football Champions: California
Kentucky Derby Winner: Paul Jones
Boston Marathon Winner: Peter Trivoulides 2:29:31

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