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The Historical Value of Money

If you are like most of us, you had grandparents who said things like, “I remember back in 1935 when gas only 15 cents a gallon.”

Looking back, most everything looked like a bargain.

You might even catch yourself telling your kids that you could buy a Hershey Bar for only a quarter when you were going to school.

However, even if your memories have remained steady over the decades, the value of money hasn’t.

When you consider the adjustments due to inflation over the years, the real purchasing power of a dollar has changed considerably.

On Footnote.com you will run across many different documents that highlight prices of the day. Understanding the value of a dollar over time can give you a better sense of how people valued things.


But what’s an easy way to convert a dollar from then to today?

With the help of Wolfram|Alpha, we have created a simple calculator that will convert any price you find into the equivalent price today.

Here are some examples from documents found on Footnote.com:

3 Comments

  1. Great tool! But…

    “Value of Edsel Ford’s home as listed in 1930 Census $1,300,000 (~$19.93 in 2010 dollars)”

    A $1.3 million, 1930 home would be worth only $19.93 today? Really? The same as a $.75 Louisville Slugger from 1900? I think maybe you have a typo here. Maybe it should be $16.84 million?

  2. @Kris. Thanks, yes that was a typo. Fixed now. Edsel’s home would be $16.84 million in today’s dollar.

  3. Try measuringworth.com