From Division of Labour:
Division of Labour: Academic productivity: From the Aug. 20, 1905 NYT is a report that Dr. Fred Wolle accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Music at California Berkley for $5000 per year.
According to Historical Economic Services:
In 2003, $5,000.00 from 1905 is worth:
$103,803.77 using the Consumer Price Index...
$479,058.79 using the unskilled wage
$605,051.85 using the GDP per capita
Today's UCB chair of Music is one Bonnie Wade. I don't know what she is making, but Donald Lowe, who is the chair of music at the University of Georgia, is paid $119,985.00 according to this database.... It seems that real wages in the music department haven't increased much over the past century. Does this mean that productivity hasn't improved in that area or is it that society doesn't value the music department any more (or perhaps less) than it did back then? What about in other disciplines on campus?
It means that all academics' relative salaries have crashed since the Gilded Age. I don't believe the CPI is accurate: American academics today do have higher real incomes than their predecessors of a century ago. A good deal of this is supply-and-demand: potential supply of college-level teachers was extremely small a century ago. A century ago college teachers were upper class. Now we are upper middle class (or middle class).