1912 Facts and Trivia

1912 Events

  • Woodrow Wilson was elected president.  He took office in January 1913.
  • RMS Titanic departing Southampton April 1912 (Author: F.G.O. Stuart. Public Domain.)

    The Presidential election featured a new party — the Bull Moose Party. Its candidate in the election was former president Teddy Roosevelt who was shot during the campaign (it was a flesh wound and he recovered).

  • The Robert F. Scott exploration team became the second group to reach the South Pole (none survived to return). He was one month behind the first team (led by Roald Amundsen.)
  • The Radio Act of 1912 was passed by Congress to regulate radio communication. It assigned three- and four-letter codes to radio stations. This was the first act in the United States to require radio stations to be licensed.
  • The Republic of China was founded.
  • The summer Olympics were held in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from a moving airplane.
  • New Mexico admitted as 47th state, Arizona admitted as 48th state.
  • Alaska became an organized (also called an incorporated) U.S. territory, meaning it was considered part of the United States proper.  This meant that the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws did apply to the residents of the territory, and as such were citizens of the United States. (Prior to this status, Alaska was a possession.)
  • Fenway Park opened with a game between the Boston Red Sox and NY Yankees (who were known at that time as the “Highlanders”).
  • The British ocean-liner Titanic sinks on its first voyage, and more than 1,500 passengers were killed.
  • First neon advertising sign appears in Paris (for a barber shop)
  • Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to the United States as a gift.  They were planned around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.  The first two cherry trees were planted in March by First Lady Helen Taft and the Japanese ambassador’s wife, Viscountess Chinda. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street.
  • The Columbia University School of Journalism was created.
  • The University of Oregon Department of Journalism was created.
  • The University of Wisconsin Madison Department of Journalism was created.
  • The Girl Scouts of America was founded in Savannah, GA.

Graflex Speed Graphic. (Photo Credit: David Joyner. Creative Commons).

1912 Inventions and Manufacturing

  • Lehn & Fink received a license and began manufacturing Lysol disinfectant in the U.S.  The company had been importing the disinfectant to the U.S. from Germany since 1890.
  • Plastic enters our lives with important applications such as an electrical insulator. The molding of plastic parts as insulation material is begun by General Electric’s in their newly formed Plastics Department.
  • Construction was completed of the first electrically-propelled U.S. Navy vessel, the 20,000 ton collier, U.S.S. Jupiter, which featured a 7000 hp turbine General Electric generator.
  • The shopping bag invented by Walter H. Deubner who ran a small grocery store in St. Paul, Minnesota. It took him four years to develop the bag. It could carry up to seventy-five pounds worth of groceries. By 1915, Deubner was selling over a million shopping bags a year at 5 cents a piece.
  • Aircraft Autopilot invented by Lawrence Sperry. Sperry demonstrated it in 1914, by flying a plane with no hands on the controls and visible to onlookers.
  • 1912 Electric blanket invented by American physician Sidney I. Russell.
  • Motorized movie cameras replace hand cranks.
  • The Speed Graphic camera is introduced. It will become newspaper standard.
  • Lester Farnsworth Wire creates the first electric traffic light in Salt Lake City. Wire worked as a detective for the Salt Lake City police force.
  • The Dixie Cup was developed by Lawrence Luellen and Hugh Moore. Its original name was the ‘Health Kup,’ changed to ‘Dixie Cup’ in 1919. The name came from a line of dolls made by the Dixie Doll Company.

Ad for Whitman's in Stars and Stripes (Paris, France) 1918. Public Domain.

1912 Foods

  • Diamond Walnut Company began.
  • Whitman’s Sampler created. Now America’s best selling box of chocolates.
  • Candy manufacturer Clarence Crane developed Life Savers. The first flavor was peppermint. He was looking for a candy that did not melt in the summer.
  • Joy Morton developed Morton’s Table Salt, a new, free-running salt packed in a blue and white cardboard canister with an aluminum pouring spout.
  • Nabisco National Biscuit Company developed two new cookies: Oreos, and Lorna Doones. View an old commercial for Lorna Doones or Oreos. 
  • Richard Hellmann, a New York deli began marketing his mayonnaise in glass jars.
  • California Associated Raisin Company was founded (now Sun-Maid Growers of California). It is the largest raisin and dried fruit processor in the world.
  • Cranberry sauce was first commercially canned in 1912 by the Cape Cod Cranberry Company, which marketed the product as “Ocean Spray Cape Cod Cranberry Sauce.” A merger with other growers evolved into the well-known Ocean Spray corporation now famous for their cranberry products.
  • GooGoo Cluster candy first introdcued
  • First year toy surprises were first put into every Cracker Jack box

1912 Companies

  • L.L. Bean began. First product was waterproof boots (called Maine Hunting Shoe).
  • Japanese company Sharp was founded. First product was a mechanical pencil – called the “Ever-Sharp”, which is where its name came from. Now is an electronic company.
  • Dale Carnegie started a course in public speaking in NYC.
  • The Lane Company began making cedar chests. Is still the leading manufacturer of cedar chests.
  • Shell Oil Company began as American Gasoline Company to sell gasoline along the Pacific Coast

1912 songs

Everybody Two Step – Written in 1912

  • The first blues song, ” The Memphis Blues ,” is published.
  • “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” w. Chauncey Olcott & George Graff Jr m. Ernest R. Ball
  • “When I Lost You” w.m. Irving Berlin
  • “Everybody Two Step” w. Earl C. Jones m. Wallie Herzer
  • “Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee” w. Stanley Murphy m. Henry I. Marshal”
  • “My Melancholy Baby” w. George A. Norton m. Ernie Burnett (In 1912, William Frawley—who later played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy—was the first person to perform the song publicly, in the Mozart Cafe in Denver, Colorado. )
  • “Take Me Back” w.m. Irving Berlin
  • Waiting For The Robert E. Lee” w. L. Wolfe Gilbert m. Lewis F. Muir
  • “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary” w.m. Jack Judge & Harry H. Williams (This song became popular among soldiers in the First Word War).

E.E. Cummings published his first poem in 1912. Shown here in 1953. (Author: Walte Albertin. Library of Congress).

1912 Entertainment

  • The play “Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts”  was written by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. It was not preformed until 1914.
  • Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey published.
  • The first Keystone Cops film was produced by Mack Sennett. It was called “Hoffmeyer’s Legacy”.  The silent comedies featured bumbling policemen and car chases. A few of the later Keystone Cops films included Charlie Chaplin.
  • The first appearance of a published poem by e. e. cummings was in the Harvard Monthly in 1912 (Edward Estlin Cummings)
  • Thomas Edison produced the first talking motion picture in 1912.
  • Paramount Pictures began
  • Universal Studios began

1912 Toys

  • The first Kewpie Dolls were produced in 1912, based on illustrations of Kewpies that appeared in Ladies Home Journal starting in 1909. The dolls have been in almost continuous production since that time by a whole host of companies.
  • The first commercial “racing automobiles” were made by Lionel and appeared in their catalogues in 1912. They were the precursors to slot cars and drew power from a toy train rail sunk in a trough that was connected to a battery.
  • Steiff created black Teddy bears to give as mourning gifts after the sinking of the Titanic. Only 500 or 600 were made.