Despite the voice of reason from scientists of the day, medical doctors, dress reformers, nineteenth century women continued to cling to advertisements claiming health depended upon corsets and laced tightly to achieve the beautiful figure they desired. Advertisements didn’t promote mere beauty–they went so far as to claim health. A newspaper article published in Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1897 spoke of Roentgen’s Light–X-rays–and the malformation caused by lacing. Today, the argument seems sound, prudent, and almost laughable that anyone fell for corsets.
This article contains the transcription of a brief recounting of one five-year-old boy’s letter to Santa Claus, published in Chicago Daily Tribune on December 26, 1883. The vintage newspaper report sheds light upon the attitudes and perceptions of our late Victorian-era ancestors, a young and well-to-do boy’s Christmas wish-list, and how his parents must have attempted to impress upon him an awareness of the good he might do for others. I find it interesting that residents of the Old Ladies’ Home are referred to as “inmates”.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, Letters to Santa Claus were a common appearance in newspapers. Whether the practice alerted parents, shared heartwarming tales of postal employees gathering nickles from among their department to stand in as a “Secret Santa” (modern lingo), or perhaps brought about by a store’s advertisements in the newspaper, Letters to Santa Claus provide a unique glimpse into the past. Want to know what toys children found appealing in the 1870’s? Or what dolls were fashioned of? Take a peek inside!
The Victorian era brought about a new business in the United States–shops that offered ladies’ hairdressing. This skill may have been offered by ladies’ maids inside well-to-do households, but in America, women needed an equivalent of barbers to meet their own needs. Come see about training to become a Ladies’ Hairdresser, a touch of Victorian humor, newspaper ads from the Old West, and more! The blog article series of “Barber Shops in the Old West” continues.
Judge John H. Arbuckle promised divorces to unsuspecting men duped by mail-order brides from the East who padded their limbs, hips, bosoms or employed false hair or used cosmetic paints. Such elements of beauty were common in the Victorian American Era, at least among the wealthy. It must have been common enough among disillusioned bridegrooms for the Judge to rule (April 3, 1873) that “marriages into which a man is seduced by the use of (his list of offenses like makeup and padded breasts) without the man’s knowledge, shall stand null and void if he so desires”. Victorian ladies were guilty of nothing today’s generation hasn’t done. But just what padding devices and cosmetics were readily available in the early 1870’s?