Remembering the Year: 1991
For some reason, I’ve been feeling a lot of '90s nostalgia lately. The music, the movies, the fashion ... for me it was the decade of youthful freedom, so it is no wonder I would look back with longing. Luckily for me I have NYPL’s catalog at my disposal, which provides a huge amount of '90s books, movies, music, and resources to help me relive my glory years.
For the sake of this post, I’ve chosen the year 1991, exactly 20 years ago and a particularly fond year in my memory. The following list that I have compiled is by no means comprehensive, rather it reflects some of the highlights of the year and items that the Library owns. What would you like to add to the list? What were your favorite books? Movies? Bands? Fashions? Need help jogging your memory? Here’s a little background:
Back in 1991, the 1989 recession officially ended, but layoffs, bankruptcies, and dismal economic forecasts were still the norm. The three big automakers, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, lost $5 billion that year. GM alone announced the closing of more than 20 plants. One of the top issues leading up to the following year’s election was the $4 trillion deficit. (Sound familiar?) This was also the year that we saw the Soviet Union dissolve, a bloody conflict in what was then Yugoslavia begin, and the end of the Gulf War. Gas prices were spiking but were still at their lowest since 1947, pretax and adjusting for inflation, even with recent increases in state and federal taxes. That year in prices, the postage stamp went from $0.25 to $0.29. Bread was a mere $0.73 per pound, milk $1.39 per 1/2 gallon, sugar $0.44 per pound, and butter $1.94. A VCR could set you back $399 and a digital pager cost $7.95/month.
To find out what people were listening to in 1991, check out Grammy Winners and Billboard chart archives (to choose another date, use the calendar feature). Here are some of the winners and top sellers:
- Natalie Cole — "Unforgettable"
- Michael Bolton — "When a Man Loves a Woman"
- REM — Out of Time
- Boyz II Men — Cooleyhighharmony
- Luther Vandross — Power of Love
- LL Cool J — Mama Said Knock You Out
- Nirvana — Nevermind
- Bryan Adams — “Everything I Do I Do it For You”
- Roxette — “Joyride”
- Metallica — Metallica
- Pearl Jam — 10
- Michael Jackson — Dangerous
- M.C. Hammer — Too Legit to Quit
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
- Beauty and the Beast
- Silence of the Lambs
- The Addams Family
- Cape Fear
- Hot Shots
- City Slickers
- Boyz n the Hood
- Northern Exposure
- Fresh Prince of Bel Air
- Cosby Show
- Twin Peaks
- Beverly Hills 90210
- Married With Children
Check out the year's best selling novels (as ranked by Bowker's Annual/Publisher's Weekly):
- Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
- The Sum of all Fears by Tom Clancy
- Needful Things by Stephen King
- No Greater Love by Danielle Steel
- Heartbeat by Danielle Steel
- The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
- The Firm by John Grisham
- Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
- Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn
- Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography by Kitty Kelley
- Under Fire: An American Story by Oliver North with William Novak
- Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying by Derek Humphry
- When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home by Erma Bombeck
- Childhood by Bill Cosby
- The Commanders by Bob Woodward
- Pulitzer Prize: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
- Man Booker Prize: The Famished Road by Ben Okri
- National Book Award: Mating by Norman Rush
Another place to look for what books were notable that year is in the New York Times (pdf).
New York Times Recommendations:
- Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
- At the Crossroads by Rachel Isadora
- Follow the Dream by Peter Sis
- The Frog Prince by Jon Scieszka
- Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
- Ooh-La-La (Max in Love) by Maira Kalman
- Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
- New York Times Picture Books Recommendations (pdf):
- Mouse Around by Pat Schories
- Bearhead adapted by Eric A Kimmel
- The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
Award Winning children's books:
Fashion and Style
Check out what people were wearing back in 1991 by reading Fashions of a Decade: The 1990s and by exploring the Berg Fashion Library using the "Explore by Time" feature. Also check out magazine issues from 1991, like Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue, and Seventeen.
Find out how people were decorating their homes by checking out books on interior decoration from 1991.
- Check out a timeline of world history for the year 1991 from Hutchinson Chronology of World History via Credo Reference.
- Find out what incomes and the cost of consumer goods were in 1991 using The Value of a Dollar.
- Find out where people were eating using the Zagat Guide for 1991 and what the popular stops were in New York City from travel guides.
- Check out books The 1990s by Stuart A. Kallen and The Nineties by Judith Condon.
- Use the New York Times w/ Index to search for advertisements, articles, and best-of book lists and Academic One File and Academic Search Premier to find news and magazine articles from 1991.