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Glimpses of Victorian Life

We'd consider these pieces "historical" -- but at the time, they were glimpses of contemporary life. Here's some up-close, personal looks at how Victorians lived and worked, as well as features about social institutions such as the Royal Mail, court judges, the police force (and the Thames police force), and more.

Mothers' Meetings

Girls' Own Paper - 1880 (Vol. 1)
American Women
A British look at some of the institutions managed for and by American women, including Wellesley College and a Boston prison for women.
A Contrast
A little piece about the evils of fashion-mad young women driving seamstresses literally to their deaths with demands for fancy dresses to be sewn at the last minute.
Girls' Own Societies, by Dora Hope
A Girls' Walking Tour, by Dora Hope
How Girls Are Presented at Court, by Ardern Holt
How I Managed My Picnic, by Dora Hope
Schools and Colleges for Women
A look at public schools, colleges, Girton College, and the development of "higher education for women" in general.
Skating [A Healthy Recreation]
The Standing Evil: a Plea for Shop Girls, by Mrs. Strange Butson
An interesting little article recommending a sort of portable one-legged stool that shop-girls could "wear" to give them a chance to rest between customers.
Sunday School Work
Interesting advice to Sunday School teachers on making the lessons interesting (Sunday schools at this time also taught many basic skills); less interesting advice for students on how to better appreciate the teaching.
What to Do on Holiday Afternoons

Girls' Own Paper - 1880-1881 (Vol. 2)
The Art of Shopping, by Mary Selwood
The Children of the City, by Anne Beale
On the desolate lives of London's street children.
The Duties of Servants, by Sophia Caulfield
Besides being a great description of what servants were expected to do, this article also supplies information on wages for different types of servants.
The "Girls Own" Club, by Dora Hope
The Government of Our Country, by The Hon. Mrs. Armytage
A detailed four-part article on the evolution of British government, as well as a description of how the various branches of that government operated in Victorian times.
Her Majesty's Household, and How It Is Governed, by Ardern Holt
A Letter from a Kitchen
This purports to be a letter from a servant girl who has taken many of GOP's lessons to heart and applied them in her life and residence; one does wonder, however, if it isn't just a bit too "neat" and perhaps an editorial "plant"...
Mr. Ruskin's May Day Festival at Whitelands College, by J.A. Owen
My District, and How I Visit It, by Dora Hope
On visiting and improving the lives of the poor.
Our Bazaar, by Dora Hope
Tips on setting up a bazaar (think "rummage sale") as a benefit, with lots of interesting, inexpensive craft projects to create items to sell.
Savings Clubs and Clothing Banks, by Dora Hope
Sunday School Treats

Girls' Own Paper - 1881-1882
About Mothers' Meetings
On Answering Advertisements: A Word of Warning
The Disadvantages of Higher Education
The enjoyable part of this article is the rebuttal, sent to the editors by a 14-year-old reader!
The Four Periods [of life], by Alice King
School Life, Maidenhood, Womanhood and Motherhood.
Girls' Work in the Mission Field: India
Girls' Work in the Mission Field: China
A Holiday in Basket Beds
A young invalid's account of a holiday by the sea.
How Girls May Entertain Their Friends, by Ruth Lamb
The Maidens' Bible
A deputation of British "maidens" present a Bible to Princess Helena of Walbeck on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, youngest son of Queen Victoria.
More Occupations for Invalids
Some nice pictures of Victorian quilts; the "stamp snake" discussed in the article is illustrated in the piece on higher education, above.
At the Seaside, by Ruth Lamb
How to arrange, and enjoy, a holiday by the sea.
The Single Life
No matter how high you rise as a single woman, never forget to be pleasant and charming!
My Sister's Wedding, and How We Organized It
A Sketch of the Children's Incurable Hospital

On the Thames
Girls' Own Paper - 1882-1883
A Few Words About Modern Jews, by Constance M. Finn
An interesting article seeking to dispel stereotypes about Victorian Jews.
The Girl's Own Home, by The Countess of Aberdeen
An appeal for a home for working girls in London, for "if she has no home to go to, will she not be likely to seek for change from the dreary round of work by reading the trashy literature that abounds, by resorting to dancing rooms and theatres... where she is in danger of losing all that is pure and true and highminded..."
Girls' Work in the Mission Field: Europe, by Mary Selwood
Hints to Travelers, by Ruth Daney
What to pack, what to wear, what to expect when traveling in Victorian days.
How I Learned to Play Lawn Tennis
The Kindergarten, by Dora Hope
The "Kinder-Garten" was developed in 1782 as a means of preparing children for schooling.
Occupations for Children, by Dora Hope
Girls should by all means be encouraged to make clothes for their dolls; it will teach them... how to make their own garments.
Servants and Service, by Ruth Lamb (9 parts)
The Thames Church Mission, by Anne Beale
Toboggans and Tobogganing, by Alfred C.W. Harmsworth
An Underground Excursion, by Ruth Lamb
A venture into a coal-pit.
Winter Entertainments in Villages, by Gentianella
Y.W.C.A., by the Hon. Emily Kinnaird
A look at this relatively new organization.

May Day costume designed by Kate Greenaway
Girls' Own Paper - 1886-1887
Advertising Swindles
Hospitals and the Benefits They Confer, by Emma Brewer
More About YWCA; the "Girls Own Paper" Branch, by Gertrude Kinnaird
What We Saw at the Children's Jubilee Fete, by Anna Beale

Girls' Own Paper - 1888-1889
A Girl's Cricket Club, by Its Secretary
Aws Well Dat Ens Well
"An Old Sussex Man's Tale," recorded in "dialect."
Our American Sale, and How We Worked It
This article from 120 years ago could be about a rummage sale held yesterday!
Our Little Children, by Emma Brewer
Regarding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Professor Ruskin's May-Day Festival, by Rev. J.P. Faunthorpe
What Shall We Do With Our Sundays? by The Countess of Meath

The Strand - 1891
Birthday Cards
A look at some Victorian birthday cards and the writers of birthday card verse.
Celebrities at Play
A humourous look at some off the leisure-hour pursuits of notable Victorians.
Fire-Works
How fireworks were made in Victorian times (including fireworks made to look like fighting cocks and boxing men).
Humours of the Post Office
Reproductions of some curious letters and objects processed through the Royal Mail.
In and About Newmarket
A look at a horse-racing town and its celebrated stables.
Notes on Jonathan's Daughters [American Women], by Max O'Rell
This is a delightful look by a French writer at the women of Victorian America -- women who considered themselves every bit the equals of their menfolk, if not more so!
Pictures with Histories
Particularly noteworthy is the first picture in this article: A sketch by Queen Victoria of her first baby; next up is a copy of the first portrait of Queen Victoria painted after her coronation (nice for those who wonder what she looked like as a young woman).
A Silver Harvest
The pilchard fishermen of Cornwall.
The State of the Law Courts
An four-part article examining the structure, costs, and defects of the Victorian legal system.



Historic Newspapers

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