Saturday, August 18, 2018

Breakfast Links: Week of August 13, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018
Breakfast Links are served! Our weekly round-up of favorite links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
Dr. David Hosack, revolutionary nerd - and physician to both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
• The skeleton suit: sounds scary, but not to the little boys who wore them in the early 19thc.
• "A Gentleman having married a wife made this request to her that she would not ride upon a great dog in the house": gossip from 17thc vicar John Ward.
• Eighteenth century business women and their trade cards.
Mrs. Bridget "Biddy" Mason was brought to Los Angeles as a slave in 1851; she died free, and one of the city's wealthiest women.
Image: The Marquis de Lafayette used pre-printed invitations for Monday night suppers; guests included Americans like Adams, Jay, and Jefferson visiting Paris.
• "Anyone can develop a good telephone personality": How to Make Friends By Telephonea 1950 guide.
• In July, an 18thc white oak from Washington's era fell at Mount Vernon, but most of the stories surrounding the tree were from the Civil War.
Image: John Adams drew this map of his local taverns in Braintree and Weymouth, MA, in 1760.
• The drowned, submerged prehistoric forests of Lincolnshire.
• Aunt Fanny's school bell, c1920.
Old Bet, the first elephant brought to America, arrived in Newburyport, MA in 1797.
• Influenced by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, workhouses built in 19thc England were designed to split up families by putting them in different laboring groups.
• The deadly 1911 heatwave that drove people insane.
Image: Mona Friedlander and Joan Hughes, the first women to fly military planes in Britain, 1940.
Julia Child's recipe for a thoroughly modern marriage.
• Benjamin Franklin discovers tofu for America.
• Six historic sites in Britain that survive from the Age of Steam.
Image: Cat paw-prints preserved in medieval tiles.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Video: Beautiful Music from an 18thc Harp

Friday, August 17, 2018

Susan reporting,

Here's a wonderfully peaceful way to ease into the weekend: harpist Nancy Hurrell plays a short selection on an 18thc French pedal harp in the collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Made in Paris around 1785 by master luthier and harp-maker Godefroi Holtzman, the harp, right, is an exquisitely beautiful instrument, a work of art even if it didn't make such lovely music. For more information about the harp, please see the museum's page here.

Romance from Sonata in B-flat major (op.13, no. 1), 1775-90, by Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz, performed by Nancy Hurrell.

If  you received this post via email, you may be seeing an empty space or black box where the video should be. Click here to view the video.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Votes for Women: The 19th Amendment

Thursday, August 16, 2018
The Awakening 1915
 Loretta reports:

In a few days, we mark a milestone in women’s rights.  On 18 August 1920, the state of Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, providing the three-quarters majority needed for adoption.

Here’s what it says:
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
 "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
It Doesn't Unsex Her
Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California, whose wife, Ellen Clark Sargent, was a suffragist, first introduced the amendment to Congress in 1878. Yes, it took only forty-two years. And the women’s fight for the right to vote had begun decades earlier. But long, long fights have been the case with a great many other milestones in legislation, like abolishing slavery.

We all know the suffragists were ridiculed and abused all the way to the ballot box, but you might want to look at samples of what some people found hilarious, here (let's also ridicule women's fashion while we're at it), here, here, here, here, and here. Note that suffragists are always unattractive, sometimes monstrous. Elderly spinsters appear frequently. Wearing eyeglasses.

Yet a few years later we find images mocking the anti-suffrage side, here, here, here, here, here, and this powerful (and surprising, given the date) image of native American women.

You'll notice that Puck, which had published some of the more infuriating images in this collection, either couldn't make up its mind or finally changed its tune.

I Did Not Raise My Girl To Be a Voter
Images: Hy Mayer, The Awakening, 20 February 1915, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Milhouse, Katherine, It Doesn't Unsex Her, 1915, via Wikipedia;  "I did not raise my girl to be a voter." Soprano solo with vociferous supporting chorus of male voices, 1915, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA .
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

An 18thc Man's Waistcoat Becomes a 1950s Woman's Vest

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Susan reporting,

In our time of fast-fashion and clothing that's made to be disposable, the exquisite clothing of the upper classes in 18thc Europe and America seems stunningly beautiful. Embroidery, embellishment with sequins and faux pearls, silk damasks so artfully woven that they defy modern reproductions: the Georgian era is one big delicious candy-box of precious textiles.

I'm not the only one to think this way, either. These textiles and clothes were so valued that they often had many lives, first being updated and remodeled repeatedly to fit the original owner, and then again by future generations as well. The amount of fabric and the construction (which could easily be unpicked) of most 18thc gowns made them ripe for refashioning. I've written about several of these recycled gowns before, including here, here, and here.

The clothing of 18thc gentlemen, while just as lavish as that worn by the ladies, seldom received the same treatment. This is not only because the men's coats, waistcoats, and breeches were fitted and tailored, providing little fabric for a new project, but also because after 1800 or so, men's clothing took a decidedly more somber turn. There was little interest among men in the 19thc or 20thc to refurbish a spangled pink velvet court suit (except, perhaps, by Liberace.)

But there's an exception to every rule, and the vest shown, left,  is the glorious proof.  It's currently on display in Fashion Unraveled, a wonderful exhibition at the Museum at FIT through November 17, 2018.

The vest began its clothing-life looking much like the men's waistcoat, right. Made in second half of the 18thc, both waistcoats feature professionally worked embroidery, placed to accentuate the wearer's taste and form. Sometime around 1950, however, a clever seamstress took one of these 18thc men's waistcoats, adapted it to a woman's figure, and created the vest.  Preserving the impact of the original embroidery, but shortening the length and adding the darts to create the close-fitting silhouette characteristic of the late 1940s-1950s, the vest would likely have been worn with a full skirt.

Don't know about you, but I'd wear either one (or both!) of these waistcoats now....

Left: Woman's Vest, remodeled c1950 in America, from an 18thc man's waistcoat. Museum at FIT. Photograph ©2018 Susan Holloway Scott.
Right: Man's Waistcoat, c1760-70. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Waltz in Its Early Years

Monday, August 13, 2018

Waltzing 1821
Loretta reports:

Some comments on the kinds of physical activities ladies of the 18th and 19th century engaged in led to me to thinking about dancing, and waltzing in particular.

Early in my writing career, I became aware that the waltz had changed over the years, and the early form of the dance wasn’t quite like what we’re familiar with. Images like the ones I’ve posted here don’t look like the style of waltz we’re used to.

According to Elizabeth Aldrich’s From the Ballroom to Hell, “During the first forty years of the nineteenth century, waltzing couples turned clockwise as partners while traveling counterclockwise around the room. This constant spinning, never reversing, could and did produce a feeling of euphoria—or worse, vertigo—that could result in a loss of control.”
9 Positions of the Waltz 1816

The dance was controversial. Lord Byron disapproved. Yes, really. Others said it was unsuitable for unmarried, highly sensitive, and/or delicate women. I can tell you from my own experience, learning to waltz in a ballroom dancing class, that it is very sexy, and I understood why people disapproved. Also, though I was much younger then, I wasn’t used to ballroom dancing, and one waltz left me a little winded. Even with lots of practice, an entire evening of dancing, in the Regency and Victorian eras, must have provided vigorous exercise.

If you're curious about the precise steps for this era (though they do vary), Carlo Blassis's (trans by R. Barton), The Code of Terpischore, offers a detailed description of the waltz. I have a hard time reading these sorts of instructions, but others of you may be able to picture or re-enact it better.

I wanted to focus on this excerpt, however, which gives a sense of one difference between earlier and later forms of the waltz: “The gentleman should hold the lady by the right hand, and above the waist, or by both hands, if waltzing be difficult for her; or otherwise, it would be better for the gentleman to support the right hand of the lady by his left. The arms should be kept in a rounded position, which is the most graceful, preserving them without motion; and in this position one person should keep as far from the other as the arms will permit, so that neither may be incommoded.” This does correspond with the early 19th century images.

Here is a note from Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society; with a glance at Bad Habits (1836): “If a lady waltz with you, beware not to press her waist; you must only lightly touch it with the open palm of your hand, lest you leave a disagreeable impression not only on her ceinture, but on her mind.”
Cruikshank, Specimens of Waltzing 1817

For a more detailed account of the waltz—with lots of lovely images—you might want to read Paul Cooper’s post at Regency

Images: Waltzing 1821, courtesy Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collection; Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson's Correct Method of German and French Waltzing (1816), showing nine positions of the Waltz, via Wikipedia; Specimens of Waltzing, George Cruikshank, 1817-06-04, courtesy New York Public Library.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed. FYI: If you order a book through one of my posts, I might get a small share of the sale.

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