Victorian Americans adored novelty parties, with new fashions cropping up regularly. In the 1890s, amateur photography soared in popularity. With more and more professional and amateur photographers around, more people had cabinet card photos of themselves… which led to the fun of parlor guessing games. But Victorian photograph parties were so much more!
A key scene within Isabella’s Calico Groom (Calico Ball: Timeless Western Collection) is on Independence Day in Evanston, Wyoming Territory (a week shy of Wyoming’s acceptance into the Union as the 44th State). In keeping with the historical favorites when celebrating July 4th, the characters took note of the races–on foot, on bicycles, and in wheelbarrows. Victorian Americans enjoyed a wide range of contests with appealing prizes (cash, clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc.). Would you rather compete in a bicycle race, or in chasing a greased pig?
One (unnamed) high-society New York City hostess started a fad that lasted fifty years…
The Calico Ball. Not only was the style of party highly fashionable, it also ensured help to those who needed it most.
True sleigh rides are a thing of antiquity that most of us consider romantic. Did you consider how expensive such an outing could be? Or dangerous? No wonder a newspaper columnist of the day, in good humor, suggested an alternative.
Vintage paintings, photographs, and newspaper articles shed light on this sport, transportation, and social outing.
Picnics were a common and notable diversion for Victorian Americans whenever weather permitted. Schools, churches, families, and organizations hosted picnics. Reasons varied from welcome-home parties to gatherings to hear a speaker or minster to holiday celebrations. This article contains recommendations for preparing and transporting picnic foods properly, protecting young ladies from harm (let’s keep those chaperones in place!), and a peek inside my new release Courting Miss Cartwright–specifically the picnic basket auction scene.