Bygone Life


The twentieth century spans one hundred years of the most exciting era in human history. It was a time of war and depression, but also a time of peace and prosperity. When the century dawned, Americans still spoke to their friendly operator to complete even local telephone calls. Henry Ford had yet to build his first Model T and the Wright Brothers still hadn't managed to get their airplane off the ground.

By the end of the millenium, we had learned how to bounce pictures off of orbiting satellites, transplant organs and send men to the moon. But we had also learned how to destroy entire cities in less than a second. To borrow a phrase from literature: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

At Bygone Life, we believe that the best way to understand the past is by examining the elements of those years through the eyes and ears of those who were present. The people of the 20th century left behind a record more complete and detailed than had any of the countless generations that went before. Come back with us and experience the lives and times of the 20th through comtemporary documents, audio recordings, video, photographs and more. Through these works, you will experience not only the details of past events, but you will gain an understanding of the tone and flavor of 20th century culture. So, settle back and wander about the worlds of the past.


We tend to frame the events of the 20th century by its decade. Each ten year span seems to have its own flavor and personality. When we think of the 1920s, we are reminded of young flappers dancing the night away in dark speakeasies or Chicago gansters speeding through the streets. The Depression years of the '30s bring forth images of ruined farms and of bread lines along the streets outside urban missions. For many, the Sixties is symbolized by Kennedy's Camelot, the Vietnam War or the hippie movement.

Begin your journey into the fantastic years of the century by selecting a decade below. Let yourself wander through this unique museum and experience first-hand the events that shaped the era. Get to know the people of the times and begin to understand just what made them tick.