The Year Was 1906

Theodore RooseveltThe year was 1906 and around the world, it was a year of disasters. On January 31, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador, creating a tsunami that killed between 500 and 1500 people. It remains the fifth strongest earthquake on record. It was recorded as far away as Japan, and Hawaii saw flooding from the waves. It was also recorded in San Francisco, and sadly this was not to be the only brush with seismic activity that would be felt there.

On April 18 at 5:12 a.m., the Great San Francisco Earthquake struck.  One of the largest quakes to hit North America, the earthquake and subsequent fires that lasted for three days after the quake caused and estimated 400 million dollars in damages and may have killed as many as 3,000 people. (More information and links can be found in the Ancestry Library in the article by Kurt Laird.) 

Also in April of 1906, Mount Vesuvius, located near Naples in Italy, erupted and caused damage in the surrounding areas, killing an estimated 500 people.

Mother Nature wasn’t finished though. In September, a typhoon accompanied by a tsunami hit Hong Kong, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

Another disaster occurred on March 10, when a coal mine explosion in Courrières, France killed 1,099 men.
Miraculously, fourteen miners were rescued after having been entombed in one of the mine shafts for twenty days.  The Courrières disaster led to more research on mining safety issues and the impact it had extended well beyond France.

In Atlanta, Georgia, tragedy was brought on by racial tensions. In September the tension erupted into violence and before the Atlanta Race Riots were over, there were twenty-five blacks and two whites killed. Ancestry members with U.S. Deluxe access can read more the “Atlanta Constitution” from September 24, 1906 and September 25, 1906.

Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States and in 1906 he signed the Antiquities Act into law, which provided for the preservation and protection of archaeological and historic sites.

There were two other significant pieces of legislation in 1906. The Pure Food and Drug Act, regulated “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors.”  The legislation created the Food and Drug Administration and stricter control over dangerous substances. This legislation put an end to the patent medicine industry, since few of the concoctions sold as medicines would be approved by the FDA. More on this legislation can be found on the FDA site.

With the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906, a nauseated nation and president also pushed forward the Meat Inspection Act which cleaned up the meat packing industry, requiring more inspections of animals before and after slaughter, and cleaner conditions in meat processing operations.

Technological advances include the first Victor Victrola phonographic record player and the first voice radio broadcast, was made by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden. 

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12 thoughts on “The Year Was 1906

  1. I enjoy reading “The Year Was…” columns. After I finish, I search my Family Tree Maker database for the ancestors who were born during that particular year. I copy the article and insert it into the “Notes” section of each. It helps put into perspective the world that relative entered. Thanks!

  2. This was a fantastic article. Please have more of the same. Maybe you can have 1905.

    Thanks for a great article.
    Denny J Denman

  3. So interesting. Is there a list of previous years that somehow I missed? Interested in 1905, 1923, —Well done–has helped me interest others in web site while other incentives did not. Keep them coming!!!

  4. I, too, enjoy these snapshots of history. I have printed this one to remind me that devastating natural disasters have happened many times before. The media tend to suggest that each new event is the most horrendous event ever!

  5. Both my parents were born in 1906. One in upper Michigan and the other in eastern Washington. I never thought much about the year they were born till your article – thanks – I wonder how much of what happened in 1906 my grandparents really knew took place?

  6. This 1906 story came just in time. My Aunt turns 100 this year and she will really enjoy it. This section of the newsletter is one of the best on your site. Thank you! ! Doris Bornitz

  7. The 2 photos did not appear on the copy that I received.They have on all others-this was disappointing.
    Sue

  8. Did not receive photos; very disappointing. Photos always appeared before with no problem.
    Carolyn

  9. Thanks for these articles. I like to read about things that were happening before I was born.

  10. I love the old photos, but am intrigued about them, i.e. the formality, how dressed up they all were and that they were professionally taken. What was the custom then?

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