Etiquette governed much during the Victorian Era: courtship, marriage, mourning, letters, social calls, dancing, engagements and breaking of engagements, clothing…and men’s hats. When reading fiction and nonfiction alike, I’ve wondered about men tipping their hats to ladies, removing their hats (or not), giving their hats over to the butler (or not), wearing a Stetson inside or during a business meeting… What did good manners demand? How did a cowboy show respect? How did a lady know if a man hoped to stay awhile when he paid a call?
Etiquette governing balls and dances in the American Victorian era seems stuffy, old-fashioned, and strict to 21st century Americans. Every rule of decorum ensured good manners were in play, but most importantly, the moral purity and innocence of young women and young men were maintained. Etiquette governed everything from how a man asked a woman for a dance to how he could properly hold her hand while dancing, to how many dances that pair could have in one evening. This article contains the specifics propriety demanded, and the vintage sources where they may be found. Leap year turned some of the lady’s restrictions upon the men; see the true-to-history newspaper article from 1888 that starred in Sophia’s Leap-Year Courtship.
As with virtually all activities and behaviors in the Victorian Era, American society developed a set of etiquette rules governing bicycling. One might suppose this list is about signalling (hand gestures) or riding in pairs for protection. You might be quite surprised to see the lengthy list of do’s and dont’s [sic] offered up in a vintage newspaper article from 1895, and in various magazines of the day.
19th Century young ladies (and gentlemen) learned a great deal about etiquette from their mothers, finishing schools, and from the societal expectations around them. The true art of conversation was a significant skill taught and expected within society, whether Philadelphia’s Old Money or the rural frontier. After all, conversation was a key element of an evening’s entertainment, courtship, and the Victorian Era’s social expectations.
Victorian-American husbands and wives celebrated their wedding anniversaries in a variety of ways. The wealthy held sumptuous dinners and balls in honor of their years of wedded bliss and their guest lists and published itemized gifts showed it! A variety of late-nineteenth-century American etiquette governed much about the Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary, from invitation to gifts to entertainments.
But not all Victorian-Americans took marriage anniversaries too seriously. Some ignored them altogether (and we have the documentation to prove it). Others poked a bit of fun at them, assigning credible reasons why one would need a cotton wedding, a paper wedding, leather wedding, and so forth.
Part 3 of an ongoing series ~
Who knew? Tobacco use in the nineteenth century might surprise you! Without today’s health warnings, tobacco became a favorite vice among men and women of all ages (including children). Numerous vintage sources paint an accurate backdrop of cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, etc., dispelling the myths surrounding tobacco use throughout the American nineteenth century.
USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Holt has an ongoing love-affair with handwritten thank you cards, birthday cards, and holiday greetings.
Part 6 in a series of 11 articles, all about headaches in Victorian America.
Today’s article takes a look at various “doctoring at home” remedies published in newspapers and books, all from the final decades of the 19th century, United States of America. Each newspaper or book snippet contains complete citations. Some remedies make sense, some seem like wild guesses, and others are simply ODD.
A vintage newspaper (Chicago Tribune, January 1901) sheds light on the dangers of headache powders but also their overwhelming redemptive value. The ‘doctor’ shares formulary details along with ‘life rules’ to prevent headaches (such as remaining sober). After all, Victorian-Americans “self-poisoned”, thus precipitating their headaches.
This piece is number five in a series of eleven articles: Victorian-American Headaches.