Nineteenth Century American women who desired an advanced education (and to work as a professional) fought an uphill battle. As late as the final decade (1890s) cultural beliefs demanded “good” women made home a bit of heaven on earth, toiled only as a help-meet to her husband, and found all the joy and satisfaction there she could possibly need. Historical sources underscore this dated belief system, and set the stage for the challenges faced by my character Dr. Isabella Pattison, DDS, in Isabella’s Calico Groom (within Calico Ball: Timeless Western Collection).
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.
GRANDMA’S WEDDING QUILTS Series debuts today with the release of THE PREQUEL, a short introduction title by Kate Cambridge. My contribution to this 12-volume series (including the prequel) is Pleasance’s First Love. In this article, I share the gem of an idea, true-to-history, that came from researching quilts in Colorado in the 19th century. Who knew a quilt could have two “tops”?
Our Victorian American ancestors were inventive people. They needed a solution for perishable food in the worst of summer’s heat (and beyond). They came up with a remarkably well-insulated icebox (officially called a refrigerator far earlier than you might guess), designed to be a beautiful piece of furniture and functional. Some iceboxes went so far as to serve the melted ice water by silver tap. This article contains Victorian instructions for care and cleaning of 19th century refrigerators, advertisements, a crime committed with an industrial-sized (believe it or not: a walk-in) refrigerator, current images of antique iceboxes (both family size and commercial size), the icebox’s impact on beer, and so much more.
Pop Quiz! Were screen doors (and window screens) invented BEFORE or AFTER 1870? Do you know?
This article includes images of the screen doors on historic homes (taken recently), images from Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalog and Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog, as well as historical information about why and how screens were invented during the Victorian era, as well as a solid answer about whether these household basics were invented before or after 1870. The answer just might surprise you.