Victorian-era expectations regarding women’s province (the home), placed responsibility for happiness, economy (and perceived respectability),Â and her husband’s “comfort” at home, wholly within her reach–and the consequences (good and bad) entirely on her shoulders. This vintage newspaper article, “Truths for Wives”, is a classical example of pervasive attitudes in the nineteenth century. While starkly dissimilar to today’s societal expectations, this short article from 1860 sheds much light on Victorian expectations–including winning and keeping a husband’s love.
Chamber pots were a necessary accompaniment to the outhouse (a.k.a “the necessary”). Illness, foul weather, the elderly, emergencies–all credible reasons to need a ready source of relief. It’s one of the least glamorous aspects of everyday life in Victorian America. Who knew such fancy chamber pots could be purchased through Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog?
Old West homemakers churned their own butter as part of a time-intensive process. Churning butter depends upon much more than simply agitating cream–temperature matters. Can you imagine trying to churn butter on a bitterly cold day or in the heat of the summer when the process depended upon a narrow range of temperatures?
While on vacation with my family in Long Beach, Washington, I found a clothes wringer on display, proudly proclaiming its use in 1876. The labor-saving machinery intrigued me!
Laundry was a greater challenge– and more work– than most amateur historians comprehend. Even when methods gave way from a washboard to a washing machine, the amount of physical labor required was nothing simple. Manual washing machines didn’t become available until quite late in the frontier era– after the Transcontinental Railroad went through. The washing machine was first available to order through a catalog in the late 1880’s.