Two contrasting newspaper articles: August 30, 1860 (Altoona, PA) and August 30, 1876 (Fort Scott, KS), show both the apparently high fidelity of marriage…and the lowest of regard of the institution. Both–published on August 30th (157 years ago today, and 141 years ago today)–illustrate a slice of life from the mid- to late-Victorian Era United States. To amateur historians like me (and many readers of western historical romance fiction), newspaper articles like these allow us to draw conclusions based on the readings. What do you think of these two examples of marriage in 19th century America?
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.
One hundred and thirty-seven years ago, today, was May 21, 1880. Three newspapers (two from Kansas and one from Louisiana) covered three timely subjects–two of which surprised me deeply. One–Leap Year–I knew about and had become comfortable with. But wait until you see the other two. Technology in 1880 was far more advanced than I realized…you might be equally surprised.
The decade of the 1880s proved among the most disastrous, desperate, life-threatening (and life-taking)–as winter in North America was at an extreme, the whole decade long. Climatologists have theories we understand today, but were unknown to our Victorian American ancestors. If you read a fictional book set in the 1880s, that touches on a mild winter, be surprised. Today, March 11th, is the anniversary of “the big one”.
November 16, 1880 (136 years ago today). A look back in time through three newspapers from the Old West: The Daily Commonwealth (Topeka, Kansas), The Independent Record (Helena, Montana), and Lawrence Daily Journal (Lawrence, Kansas). Brief clippings from each paper highlight how much has changed over the years…treatment for sinus congestion, focus of Thanksgiving, and ability to fight wildfires (and prosecute the fire-bug).