Imagine our society today, if we were to live like the people did in the 1900’s. For the people back then, our modern day era, would have been their luxury. If people back then were very luxurious, they would have been considered very rich, when really for our time, it is probably considered basic necessities. How the years have unfolded, from technology to living conditions. We are no longer in a dump. Women are able to get jobs. Women can vote. Men are not forced to go to war, because now we all have a choice. Back then, there were no choices, you were born lucky or not.
Today we are all born ‘lucky’ because what we call basic necessities would have been for the wealthy back then, between living conditions and working conditions, there were fewer rich people than poor people in the 1900’s. There were many effects on the social classes, which included the upper, middle and lower. The working and living conditions were very difficult to handle. If we were to live in the 1900s, we would most likely die of starvation, dehydration, disease or disaster. The upper class wouldn’t have suffered as much as the poor. They were able to afford a home to live in, an education for their children, got a job and medical attention. There were many jobs in the 1900’s such as farmers, doctors, miners, carpenters, teachers and many more. For a lower class of people, they would struggled to the fullest. The social classes had a very different way of living.
The upper class were fortunate and they owned a lot of land. If wealthy enough, they could have owned businesses and have more time for their lifestyle and leisure. The upper class could afford to pay their children’s education. Not many kids would go on to secondary school because they had to pay schools fee to attend. Only the wealthy would send their children, that’s why there were so few that attended secondary school.
There were many activities in the 1900s and reading was the most popular. Britain was generous enough to send over one third of books to Australia. The upper class, and even the middle, were able – if they could- afford pianos, and if they could, they would put on a show and play music. Dancing was also very popular and not just to one social class, it was for all. Dancing was a chance to meet up with new people, and they were actually allowed to talk to the opposite gender.
Health and hygiene was a big problem in the 1900s. They had very unsanitary conditions, many diseases which led to a lot of sickness, and a bad water supply. In the 1900’s so many people tried to cure themselves because doctors were very expensive. So the lowest of the classes were not able to go to the doctors. Many people would die from diseases that can easily be cured today, such as the flu/cold, diarrhoea etc.
The water supply was very poor, especially due to the drought in 1885, Sydney. They only had an estimate of 10 days of water supply, but that was until they made a water system that ran into people’s homes from Prospect. This made life a lot easier. People were allowed to use more water to wash their hands and bodies – to have a bath, their clothes, and to flush toilets – instead of throwing it out onto the street or into Bondi Beach. Many people had spent most of their time working, and working to put food on the table quite literally. There was no such thing as fast food restaurants or microwave meals. While the men were working hard, to only end up with a very small pay in their pockets, women were at home attending the house work and taking care of the children. House work back then was very difficult, due to the fact that they didn’t have electrical equipment like we do today. They didn’t have dishwashers or washing machines, everything was done by hand. Women would spend the majority of their day preparing and cooking the dinner for that night, and top of that, they had to wash and mend the clothes (possibly even make them), clean appliances and cutlery. They were never bored.
In the working classes, the poor people – or the lower social class, had to survive without any help from the government. So there was a constant threat and fear to families if the worker of the house was unemployed or got sick, injured or God forbid – died. Because of this, many children were forced to work after they had finished school. So that would have made the children around the age of 8 to 12. Even though the children were working, it still wasn’t enough money to pay for the needs of a family. So a man named Justice Higgins decided that 42 shillings per week was the minimal wage that a person earned. This is how the idea of a basic wage was introduced. From the ‘invention’ of basic wage, a group of unions used the basic wages in their claims for pay rises. The unions fought for better wages and less working hours and still today, unions continue to fight for improved wages and conditions.
I think we have come a long way since the early 1900’s. Compared to that time, our government and ‘modern conveniences’ have improved our living conditions dramatically and has allowed us to live longer, healthier, happier lives. But it has also made us lazier and less appreciative of what we have and what our people had to go through for us to be here.
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