Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

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:


To see what movies were popular in 1991, check out the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Box Office Mojo for the top grossing films of the year. Here are some that the Library has:


See what was big in television that year from Time Magazine best of 1991 Television. Also check out the Nielsen television ratings.  Here are some of the top shows for the '91-'92 season:


Adult Books

Check out the year's best selling novels (as ranked by Bowker's Annual/Publisher's Weekly):


Another place to look for what books were notable that year is in the New York Times (pdf).

Children's Books 

New York Times Recommendations:

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.

Further Resources



Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

What a detailed trip down memory lane!

Jeez, this post was certainly a labor of love. I don't know if I thought this much about 1991 even when it WAS 1991! So do you believe that fashions/music/etc. repeat in a 20-year cycle? I remember in the 1990's watching some terrifying 1970's fashions come back in style, and in the 2000's my Teen Advisory Group members briefly thought I was cool because I knew the lyrics to some 1980's songs that were making a comeback. But looking at this list, I'm not sure what 1991 stuff I would WANT to come back in style. Although if they redid the last episode of Twin Peaks, that probably couldn't hurt. Oh, and I always got a kick out of the titles of Erma Bombeck books ("All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room" is my personal favorite), so I wish we'd had more of those, too. But while I still enjoy music by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, REM, and even Roxette, I *really* don't need Michael Bolton to make a comeback!

NOBODY needs Michael Bolton

NOBODY needs Michael Bolton to make a comeback. Didn't stop him from trying though. On topic, that was a somewhat traumatic trip down memory lane. One thing we don't want coming back from the '90s, however, are the Library's hours of operation.

It does seem like things

It does seem like things cycle, but let's hope that we are not forced to revert to the library hours of the '90's. Check out this article from the New York Times: According to the article, some branches of the New York Public Library were only open 3 days a week because of budget cuts. Make sure you write to your elected officials to prevent this from happening again!

What a Walk Down Memory Lane

This list is great. I had forgotten about Northern Exposure. That was a great show, and Needful Things by Stephen King scared the daylights out of me when I read it! Thanks for reminding me.

Post new comment