Ladies Home Journal: Predicting The Future

by Irma Arkus

In December of 1900, the Ladies Home Journal published its “prophecies,” speculations on what the world will be like as researched by John Elphreth Watkins Jr.

“These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America” writes Watkins, describing in detail the “dawn of 2001.”

While many predictions bear political leanings of the era, such as the entry on South American countries, seeking entry to the Union, due to the expanding European interests; others are either funny or remarkably accurate.

“Five Hundred Million People,” declared the Journal, “there will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America…by the lapse of another century.”

Or “Ready-Cooked Meals will be Bought from establishments…they will purchase materials in tremedous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking.” While that prediction is relatively true, the explanation of how these will be delivered is far more amusing. “Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where they will be washed.” Ahhh, the joys of mass catering.

Food will apparently not be exposed to air as “storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce.” This prediction is of course, far ahead of its time. Even ours perhaps, as we seem to be only starting with increased policing.

Resources such as coal are predicted to run out, while hydro-electric power, harnessed from “every river or creek” is predicted, as well is the power of the ocean: “along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.” This electricity is also predicted to affect food supply, as “in cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth.”

Say goodbye to your cherry tomatoes, as the fruit of the future will be giant. While I cannot disagree with the statement “Strawberries as Large as Apples,” as they seem to be size of potatoes these days, and taste as much too, or the fact that most fruit will be seedless, the Ladies Journal does predict for some giant fruit: “One cantaloup will supply an entire family,” or “Peas as Large as Beets,” and “Roses will be as large as cabbage heads.”

The sadder ones are “There will be No Wild Animals.” Ladies Journal predicts that wild animals will only be preserved in private hands, or circus. This one, ominously, has almost come true.

And the expectation of free university education for all, is but wishful thinking.

Read all about it here. [via Reddit]