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The 20th (twentieth) century began on January 1, 1901, and ended on December 31, 2000. It was the tenth and final century of the 2nd millennium. Unlike most century years, the year 2000 was a leap year, and the second century leap year in the Gregorian calendar after 1600.

The 20th century was dominated by a chain of events that heralded significant changes in world history as to redefine the era: Spanish flu pandemic, World War I and World War II, nuclear weapons, nuclear power and space exploration, nationalism and decolonization, the Cold War and post-Cold War conflicts; intergovernmental organizations and cultural homogenization through developments in emerging transportation and communications technology; poverty reduction and world population growth, awareness of environmental degradation, ecological extinction; and the birth of the Digital Revolution, enabled by the wide adoption of MOS transistors and integrated circuits. It saw great advances in power generation, communication and medical technology that by the late 1980s allowed for near-instantaneous worldwide computer communication and genetic modification of life.

The 20th century saw the largest transformation of the world order since the Fall of Rome: global total fertility rates, sea level rise and ecological collapses increased; the resulting competition for land and dwindling resources accelerated deforestation, water depletion, and the mass extinction of many of the world's species and decline in the population of others; consequences which are now being dealt with. Man-made global warming resulted in more extreme weather conditions; the average global temperature on Earth has increased by a little more than 1° Celsius (2° Fahrenheit) since 1880; Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15–0.20 °C per decade.

The repercussions of the World Wars, Cold War and globalization crafted a world where people are more united than any previous time in human history, as exemplified by the establishment of international law, international aid, and the United Nations. The Marshall Plan—which spent $13 billion ($100 billion in 2019 US dollars) to rebuild the economies of post-war nations—launched "Pax Americana". Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union created enormous tensions around the world which manifested in various armed conflicts and the omnipresent danger of nuclear proliferation. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the collapse of its European alliance was heralded by the West as the end of communism, though by the century's end roughly one in six people on Earth lived under communist rule, mostly in China which was rapidly rising as an economic and geopolitical power.

It took over two-hundred thousand years of human history up to 1804 for the world's population to reach 1 billion; world population reached an estimated 2 billion in 1927; by late 1999, the global population reached 6 billion, with over half being concentrated in East, South and Southeast Asia. Global literacy averaged 80%. Penicillin and other medical breakthroughs combined with the World Health Organization's global campaigns for the eradication of smallpox and other diseases responsible for more human deaths than all wars and natural disasters combined yielded unprecedented results; smallpox now only existed in labs. Machines were being utilized in all areas of production, feeding an increasingly intricate national supply chain, meaning for the first time in history, mankind was no longer constrained by how much it could produce, but rather by peoples' willingness to consume. Trade improvements reversed the limited set of food-producing techniques used since the Neolithic period, greatly enhancing the diversity of foods available, resulting in an upturn in the quality of human nutrition. Until the early 19th century, life expectancy was about thirty in most populations; global lifespan-averages exceeded 40+ years for the first time in history, with over half achieving 70+ years (three decades longer than a century earlier).

20th century Media

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HMR2-09-47

HMR2-09-47

"John Gzowski & Adrian 'Socks' Apl 11/09"..The photographer's brother, Adrian Rathbun, and John Gzowski, comparing socks [!]. Photograph taken April 11, 1909, one of a series taken on the veranda of the Rathbun... More

Patchwork Bojagi (Wrapping Cloth)

Patchwork Bojagi (Wrapping Cloth)

Unidentified Artist Korean, 20th century

Patchwork wrapping cloth (jogakbo)

Patchwork wrapping cloth (jogakbo)

Unidentified Artist Korean, 20th century

Patchwork Wrapping Cloth (Jogakbo)

Patchwork Wrapping Cloth (Jogakbo)

Unidentified Artist Korean, 20th century

Patchwork wrapping cloth (jogakbo)

Patchwork wrapping cloth (jogakbo)

Unidentified Artist Korean, 20th century

Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice

After Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, London 1775–1851 London)

Wild Duckling on Sandy Beach

Wild Duckling on Sandy Beach

Unidentified Artist 20th century

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Vincenzo Brini, [Charlestown, ca. 17 June 1922]

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Vincenzo Brini, [Char...

Discussing the last installment of his own novel Eventi e Vittime in "L'Adunata de Refrattari" [of 30 May 1922] and philosophy about writing, and referring to [Errico] Malatesta and Fred H. Moore's commitment t... More

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Alfonsina [Brini], [Charlestown, ca. 17 June 1822]

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Alfonsina [Brini], [C...

On feeling reassured after receipt of letter from Beltrando and Lefevre [Brini]. making arrangements for them to see him, and writing to [Vincenzo] Brini. Courtesy of Boston Public Library

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Lefevre Brini, [Charlestown, ca. 17 June 1922]

Bartolomeo Vanzetti autographed letter signed to Lefevre Brini, [Charl...

Giving fatherly advice. Courtesy of Boston Public Library

Crabtree Ledge -- Maine

Crabtree Ledge -- Maine

Caption: Crabtree Ledge Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Crabtree Ledge

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Caption: Great Duck Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Great Duck Island

Lubec Channel -- Maine

Lubec Channel -- Maine

Caption: Lubec Narrows West Bar Day Beacon. Removed for dredging U.S. Engineers. Date: 1872 - 1897 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Lubec Channel

Libby Island -- Maine

Libby Island -- Maine

Caption: View taken from bottom of boat-slip looking South. 10 ft. distant. Date: 12/3/1929 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Libby Island

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Caption: Halfway Rock Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Halfway Rock

Indian Island -- Maine

Indian Island -- Maine

Caption: Indian Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Indian Island

Doubling Point -- Maine

Doubling Point -- Maine

Caption: Doubling Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Doubling Point

Burnt Island -- Maine

Burnt Island -- Maine

Caption: Burnt Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Burnt Island

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Burnt Island -- Maine

Burnt Island -- Maine

Caption: Burnt Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1885 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Burnt Island

Libby Island -- Maine

Libby Island -- Maine

Caption: Libby Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Libby Island

Manana Island -- Maine

Manana Island -- Maine

Caption: General view of Manana from Monhegan, looking West - distance about 3000 ft. Date: 7/22/1932 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Manana Island

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Bear Island -- Maine

Bear Island -- Maine

Caption: Bear Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Bear Island

Bear Island -- Maine

Bear Island -- Maine

Caption: Bear Island Light and Depot, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Bear Island

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Franklin Island -- Maine

Franklin Island -- Maine

Caption: Franklin Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Franklin Island

Egg Rock -- Maine

Egg Rock -- Maine

Caption: Egg Rock Fog Signal Station, Maine. Showing Hornsby-Akroyd oil engines, timing gear, etc. Taken 5 ft. distance, looking East. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Egg Rock

Fort Point -- Maine

Fort Point -- Maine

Caption: Fort Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Fort Point

Doubling Point -- Maine

Doubling Point -- Maine

Caption: Doubling Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Doubling Point

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1897 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Caption: Cape Elizabeth, East, Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Elizabeth

Burnt Coat Harbor -- Maine

Burnt Coat Harbor -- Maine

Caption: Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Burnt Coat Harbor

Burnt Coat Harbor -- Maine

Burnt Coat Harbor -- Maine

Caption: Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Burnt Coat Harbor

Deer Island Thorofare -- Maine

Deer Island Thorofare -- Maine

Caption: Deer Island Thorofare Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Deer Island Thorofare

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Caption: Halfway Rock Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Halfway Rock

Heron Neck -- Maine

Heron Neck -- Maine

Caption: Heron Neck Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Heron Neck

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Caption: Great Duck Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Great Duck Island

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Caption: Cape Elizabeth Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Elizabeth

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Caption: Cape Neddick Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Neddick

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Caption: Cape Elizabeth Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Elizabeth

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Halfway Rock -- Maine

Caption: Halfway Rock Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Halfway Rock

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Caption: Hendricks Head Light Station, Maine. Date: 1885 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Hendricks Head

Little Diamond Island -- Maine

Little Diamond Island -- Maine

Caption: Little Diamond Island Depot, Maine. Date: 5/20/1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little Diamond Island

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Caption: Hendricks Head Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Hendricks Head

Avery Rock -- Maine

Avery Rock -- Maine

Caption: Avery Rock Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Avery Rock

Avery Rock -- Maine

Avery Rock -- Maine

Caption: View of station showing breakwater washed away and damage to bell tower and house by storm of January 25-26, 1928. Looking NW. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Avery Rock

Grindel Point -- Maine

Grindel Point -- Maine

Caption: Grindel Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Grindel Point

Libby Island -- Maine

Libby Island -- Maine

Caption: Libby Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Libby Island

Manana Island -- Maine

Manana Island -- Maine

Caption: Remington Oil Engine Fog Signal Installation. Date: 4/7/1914 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Manana Island

Manana Island -- Maine

Manana Island -- Maine

Caption: Manana Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Manana Island

Boon Island -- Maine

Boon Island -- Maine

Caption: Boon Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Boon Island

Manana Island -- Maine

Manana Island -- Maine

Caption: Manana Island Fog Signal Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Manana Island

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Boon Island -- Maine

Boon Island -- Maine

Caption: Boon Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Boon Island

Libby Island -- Maine

Libby Island -- Maine

Caption: Libby Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Libby Island

Bear Island -- Maine

Bear Island -- Maine

Caption: Bear Island Light and Depot, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Bear Island

Cuckolds Fog -- Maine

Cuckolds Fog -- Maine

Caption: Cuckholds Fog Signal Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cuckolds Fog

Goat Island -- Maine

Goat Island -- Maine

Caption: Goat Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Goat Island

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Little River -- Maine

Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Fort Point -- Maine

Fort Point -- Maine

Caption: Fort Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Fort Point

Dice Head -- Maine

Dice Head -- Maine

Caption: Dice Head Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Dice Head

Marshall Point -- Maine

Marshall Point -- Maine

Caption: Marshall Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Marshall Point

Doubling Point -- Maine

Doubling Point -- Maine

Caption: Doubling Point Range Light Station, Maine. Date: 1898 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Doubling Point

Indian Island -- Maine

Indian Island -- Maine

Caption: Indian Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Indian Island

Doubling Point -- Maine

Doubling Point -- Maine

Caption: Doubling Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Doubling Point

Doubling Point -- Maine

Doubling Point -- Maine

Caption: Doubling Point Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Doubling Point

Deer Island Thorofare -- Maine

Deer Island Thorofare -- Maine

Caption: Deer Island Thorofare Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Deer Island Thorofare

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Great Duck Island -- Maine

Caption: Great Duck Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Great Duck Island

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Caption: Hendricks Head Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Hendricks Head

Avery Rock -- Maine

Avery Rock -- Maine

Caption: Avery Rock Light Station, Maine. Date: 1890 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Avery Rock

Little Diamond Island -- Maine

Little Diamond Island -- Maine

Caption: Little Diamond Island Depot, Maine. Date: 5/20/1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little Diamond Island

Boon Island -- Maine

Boon Island -- Maine

Caption: Boon Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Boon Island

Browns Head -- Maine

Browns Head -- Maine

Caption: Browns Head Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Browns Head

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Caption: Cape Neddick Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Neddick

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Caption: Cape Neddick Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Neddick

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Cape Neddick -- Maine

Caption: Cape Neddick Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Neddick

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Caption: Cape Elizabeth Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Elizabeth

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Cape Elizabeth -- Maine

Caption: Cape Elizabeth Light Station, Maine. Date: 1925 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cape Elizabeth

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Avery Rock -- Maine

Avery Rock -- Maine

Caption: Avery Rock Light Station, Maine. Date: 1893 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Avery Rock

Avery Rock -- Maine

Avery Rock -- Maine

Caption: View of southeast corner of house, showing cornice of roof smashed, and window broken in by storm of January 25-26, 1928. Looking NE. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Avery Rock

Baker Island -- Maine

Baker Island -- Maine

Caption: Baker Island Light Station, Maine. Date: 1897 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Baker Island

Cushing Island Point -- Maine

Cushing Island Point -- Maine

Caption: Cushing Island Point Date: 11/11/1916 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cushing Island Point

Cuckolds Fog -- Maine

Cuckolds Fog -- Maine

Caption: Lantern added, 1907. Date: 1907 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Cuckolds Fog

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Hendricks Head -- Maine

Caption: Hendricks Head Light Station, Maine. Date: 1885 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Hendricks Head