The Year Was 1924

In the U.S., Calvin Coolidge was serving as president after the death of President Warren G. Harding and was re-elected in November.  Congress declared Native American Indians U.S. Citizens through the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, although Native Americans were not allowed to vote in some states until 1948.

In these early days of radio, radio stations were popping up and broadcasting across the country. Calvin Coolidge became the first President to broadcast over the radio from the White House. Further, eighteen radio stations hooked up in September with General John J. Pershing and other military officials in a demonstration of how radio can be used in the event of an emergency to communicate important information across the country in the National Defense Test Day Broadcast.

In March, people in the U.S. were flocking to the theatres to see Douglas Fairbanks’ silent picture, The Thief of Bagdad. Popular songs included, California, Here I Come (Al Jolson), Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman), and It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’ (Wendell Hall).

As for economics, $100 was the equivalent of $1,160.82 in today’s dollars. What could you get for your money? A quart of milk would cost you about $0.14, a loaf of bread or a pound of sugar ran around $0.09, eggs were $0.48 per dozen, coffee about $0.43 a pound, and if you wanted a nice sirloin, it would run about $0.40 per pound. 

So, how much did those new-fangled radios cost?  A few years earlier, in 1921, factory-made radios could cost more than $2,000 in today’s dollars, but in 1922 the National Bureau of Standards released a circular that sold for five cents and told how to build a crystal radio set and soon newspapers picked up on the story and the information spread quickly. The circular stated that the cost of materials needed was typically under $10.  

Yes, radios were all the rage, as you can see from this 1924 newspaper clipping from the “Appleton Post Crescent,” 12 April 1924. (Those who don’t have access to the Historical Newspaper Collection, can view the clipping by clicking on the image to enlarge it.)

20 thoughts on “The Year Was 1924

  1. How odd that one of the three songs you chose to highlight, It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’ (Wendell Hall), was a favorite that my Grandmother would sing to me when I was a child! I had previously copied the lyrics to include in my family history notes. Now I know that it was made popular in 1924 – when my Grandmother was 12 years old!!

  2. These kind of articles are priceless. To get a frame of reference about events and times to put with your ancestors really puts them in a context.



  3. My father, born in 1903, was one of the people who built a crystal radio- the first in Middleburgh, NY. He continued working with radios until his death in 1955.

  4. Thank you for the article about 1924, as my mother was Born in June of 1924. It was nice to read about the current events of the time.
    Again, Thank you.
    Lola G. Abarr-Harris

  5. Thank you for the 1924 article. I have a picture of my mother, age 4-5 sitting at a crystal radio set with headphones on, looking VERY serious. Long live the radio!

  6. What a wonderful idea! My mother was born in May of 1924. My father, born several years later, is a fanatic for Al Jolson. We grew up singing his songs. It’s amazing how many of those songs are still familiar today. Thanks so much for “The Year Was..”!

  7. I was born in Sept.1924.What fun to see the world then. At that time my dad owned an airport and flying service.By 1939 I also was a pilot. We even had heard about TV, described as a movie in a radio. Thanks for your efforts.

  8. I was born Oct 1922 and my sister was born 1 April 1924 in the South. Our memories go way back. Anything I read about that time in our history is great! Thanks for publishing it. lgg

  9. Recently, at the Philadelphia Free Library, I was searching a newspaper from 1928 for a Death Notice, when I was distracted time and again by the ads for the modern conveniences of the day. Electric ice boxes and washing machines appeared on many pages. There were real estate ads for “new homes” in what are now some of the older neighborhoods in my community. It was as enjoyable as your articles. Thank you.

  10. Interesting . . . How nice of Congress to declare Native American Indians citizenship in thie year 1924! Weren’t they here before any of us?!?!?

  11. I was born on May 22, 1924.

    I miss my “daily dose of genealogy”; weekly leaves me less to look for as I greet the morning sunrise. Will get used to the weekly though, I’m sure.

  12. I was born in 1924 and have lots of memories of all those years, yet, it is hard to imagine a quart of milk for $0.14, a loaf of bread or a pound of sugar for $0.09, etc. Where will it all end?

    I am just glad I can work on genealogy, but wish I had asked more questions of my parents, and especially grandparents.

  13. Fascinating..My mother, too was born in 1924. The article puts things in context. I would love to see highlights of different years become a regular feature.

  14. I was looking in the 1930 Census. Even then they were asking for the number of radios in the house.

  15. reviewing 1924 reminded me of a week ago when i was showing my son a minor notice about a distant collateral in a local 1923 PA paper. talk about missing the forest for the trees. i had completely missed an a minor article about a klan initiation of 100 members by 1,000 sheeted members in front of 5,000 local citizens in the home of the rather famous punxsautawney phil weather forcasting ground hog. i heard they were big, but not that big in the north. he pointed out it was the most favorable one he had encountered.

  16. I was born in 1923 in Fargo, No. Dak. I remember my father getting a crystal set and assembling it. We lived in Minneapolis, Minn. then since my father had been ill in WWI and was at the Veternans Hosp. in Minneapolis. When he died in 1987 he was still a ham radio operator and spent many years and hours on the Ham radio enjoying every minute of it.

  17. I would like to use this article to submit to one of my genealogy societies, they are asking for articles or information on people in our famalies who would be of interest in our area.
    My uncle joined the service on May,30, 1918 and studied radio in the service. He was one of the first in our area to work in radio after his discharge from the service.
    He and a friend operatored a radio station in a small town, Rayne, LA , under the call letters, WS3KB. The KB repesenting their names. this was about the mid 30’s.
    I think this would be of interest to many people.

  18. Thanks so much for all the wonderful info about 1924 and radios.
    I was born in New York City, Dec. 4, 1923 and my Dad often told the following story. I’m not sure if he made his own crystal radio set, or at least had bought one. Dad invited to our apartment one of his workmates, saying he’d bought a new loudspeaker. Dad often chuckled over the fellow’s disgust when what he saw was me in my bassinet. I guess I was able, even then, to “speak” pretty loudly!

  19. I’m helping plan an 81st birthday for my mom and have been researching the social and economic climate in 1924 New Orleans. Your brief but informative journal is very helpful.

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