Nineteenth century breads often called for “a teacup of yeast,” a huge amount compared to today’s recipes. Victorian-era housekeepers (e.g. wives) made their yeast. And continued to whip up fresh batches of yeast (with a touch of the last batch as a starter) well after commercially prepared yeast waited on grocer’s shelves.
Nineteenth Century popular belief–wholly supported by Medical Doctors’ and scientists’ claims–genuinely believed that educating females in the same manner as males invited an entire host of disastrous results. Those terrifying results included everything from destruction to the woman’s reproductive system, mental breaks (yes, insanity!), and a long list of physical diseases. Because the vast majority believed these consequences to be true, women weren’t allowed to seek education in a male-dominated classroom. The battle over co-education continued long after the late 19th Century for these reasons. Not only was the woman’s mind and body at terrible risk, should she be educated like a male, but everyone knew a female mind couldn’t take in significant learning.
Beyond the obvious beneficiaries of the Calico Ball craze (mid- to late-nineteenth century United States)– the needy who received the once-worn dresses (or suits of clothes), who else benefited?
I suggest a short list of Hidden Beneficiaries. Who else can you identify?
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.
In Part 2 of this blog series, I share 70 newspaper clippings from Victorian America, wherein reports abound that husbands have sold their wives. Prices range from $0.05 (5 cents) to thousands of dollars (US, Victorian). I provided price comparisons, just for impact. Throughout, I provided my opinions regarding TRUTH or JOKE. Ultimately, there had to be some of both. What a bizarre practice!