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”.
The popularity of stereoscopes and image viewing began in the early 19th century and persisted into the 20th. Victorian Americans enjoyed viewing three-dimensional paintings, drawings, and photographs of people and far-away places as well as images that reminded them of home. Stereoscopes were one of many new inventions the well-to-do enjoyed for entertainment.
Mail-order catalogs didn’t show up in America as early as you might think… and couldn’t have impacted the mail-order bride phenomenon as early as today’s popular fiction market makes it seem.