How centuries are described is confusing. We are now in the twenty-first century, as it is 2010. At least we will be for a few more days! The last century was the 20th century, the 1900s. And the century before that was the 19th century, the 1800s. See how it gets confusing?
Yes, even though the year starts with a 20, the century starts with a 21. Friends of mine who are mathematicians have explained this to me, but I don't listen. It just seems wrong. 1865 was in the 19th century and just doesn't sound right, even though it is right.
As a person interested in history, and not interested in getting any more confused, I try to call different centuries "the 1700s" or the "1200s". I guess that means that now we are in the "2000s". Since next year will be 2011, that makes me more comfortable.
Since I lived for quite a while in the 20th century (the 1900s), I grew up seeing the logo for 20th Century Fox. When the 21st Century came, ten years ago, the people at Fox tried to change the logo to just "Fox", which just seemed weird. I never saw them try to change it to "21st Century Fox", which would have been really wrong. Lately I've noticed that they have gone back to "20th Century Fox", and I think that's great. So what if the nit-pickers know that it's ten, almost eleven years out of date? It sounds right!