[ changes in the value of money ]

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The financial records included in the Tirocchi collection are among the most interesting elements of this story. But, it is not as easy as it might seem to make sense of the figures in the various records. The value of money changes over time. As Panfilo Basilico illustrated in his oral history interview:

"Well, in those days, of course, a nickel was a lot of money. You could ride the bus for a nickel. A nickel went a long way. We went dancing. What did we need–twenty-five cents? The subway, I think, was fifteen. You could buy a nice suit for twelve dollars."

Today, in Providence a bus ride costs $1.25, twenty-five times what Mr. Basilico remembers. Historians use complicated calculations to figure the historical value of money, but they do include factors like the cost of basic goods such as food, clothing, and housing. You can use an interactive currency converter at the Columbia Journalism Review's web site to make conversions of specific amounts, but we have done some sample conversions for you here.