21 Clever Life Hacks From 100 Year Ago That Surprisingly Still Work

Ever thought you’d turn to the early 1900’s for life hacks? Neither did we, but hold onto your flat caps and flapper dresses, folks, because the New York Public Library has gone full-on time machine!

They’ve digitized 100 “how to do it” cards found in old cigarette boxes, and let me tell you, these tips are so spot-on that even your avocado-toast-loving, millennial selves might raise an eyebrow in approval.

Remember when cigarette cards were the Pokémon cards of the day? Nope, neither do we, but back then, every pack came with a collectible card featuring celeb photos, ads, and more. Gallaher cigarettes, a UK-based tobacco giant that was once bigger than an influencer’s ego, had this quirky idea to print a series of nifty how-to’s on their cards.

These ranged from basic stuff like boiling potatoes (because apparently, that needed explaining) to wild, action-hero scenarios like stopping a runaway horse. And get this – there’s even a DIY guide for making a fire extinguisher. Because, why not?

Now, all these life hacks are part of the NYPL’s George Arents Collection. We’ve scoured the archives and picked out some of the cleverest (and most hilariously outdated) tips.

Spoiler alert: one of them involves cleaning real lace. Because, you know, that’s a skill high on everyone’s 2023 bucket list, right next to “learning TikTok dances” and “brewing the perfect oat milk latte.”

Stay tuned, and remember, the next time you’re in a pickle, ask yourself: “What would a 1900’s person do?” The answer might just surprise you!

These century-old tips are more than just a quirky blast from the past. They’re a reminder that sometimes, the simplest solutions are timeless.

Whether it’s outsmarting a runaway horse or just boiling a potato, our ancestors had some serious life-hack game. So, next time you’re scrolling through endless modern-day life hacks, remember that the folks from the 1900s had it down pat too.

If you had a chuckle or an “aha” moment reading about these vintage gems, don’t be shy to share this article on Facebook.

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