Revolting Details About The 1800s History Left Out
Imagine the craziest movie or book title that you have ever heard about… That title would probably describe perfectly the 19th-century United States. At the time, several unusual things happened across the States, but most of those things aren’t listed in your history textbooks.
Even historians weren’t feeling comfortable talking about certain 19th-century stuff. The 19th-century was an important period for the States, as the nation took its first steps beyond independence. At the same time, its residents faced daily challenges that modern Americans couldn’t even imagine, let alone do. Here are top facts from 19th-century America that will shock you.
25. Urban City Life
Do you think that traffic is horrible now? Well, you would say otherwise if you had to experience 19th-century city life. At the time, sharing the road with pedestrians, bicycles, and working-animals, and later cars, was an everyday thing.
On top of that, hygiene practices were almost unexisting, so you could see people doing some nasty things on the streets as well. Factories were no exception. Simply, said, there weren’t any hygiene standards in place. Laws were even worse.
24. Child Labor
You may hear today how child labor is wrong, and how children should be well… Children! Sure, house chores are still in, and unfortunately, child labor is still active in some countries globally, but back in the days it was normal to see children working the most difficult jobs.
Children couldn’t catch a break! They were so busy seven days a week working beyond regular hours on farms, in factories, and especially during the Industrial Revolution. Entrepreneurs of the time saw children as perfect works, due to one reason only – children were less likely to organize into unions.
23. Traveling By Horse Every Day
Taking a cabby ride through Central Park may seem romantic and the ultimate New York thing to do, but imagine a city full of horses… They don’t use toilets as humans do, they do what they have to do on the spot.
So, those romantic rides weren’t so romantic, as poop was everywhere. Rich people used to wear raised shoes so they didn’t “sink in.” Plus, those animals were super exhausted and exploited.
Industrial Revolution expanded so fast that people had to deal with numerous unexpected things. Therefore, not even engineers had the time to study what to do and what not to do.
There were no fire codes, and at any sign of fire, people would just run and try to save their lives. Horses were used to pull water, and firefighting tech was limited.
21. The White House Burned
You know that the love-hate relationship between the States and Great Britain has a long history. Their roots are so intertwined that that’s impossible to talk about USA history without mentioning Great Britain.
At one moment, Britain was so so upset about losing control over the States that it expressed frustration with violence. Taking Washington D.C. and burning down the White House was done fast in 1812, but eventually, this campaign ended with a treaty. Plus, Britain had to focus its war efforts on Napoleon.
20. Ring Turning
Trends were always present and 19-century had trends of its own. Some were one of a kind, some were awkward, while some were amazing. Have you heard about a trend called ‘ring turning’?
New York City newspaper first talked about this trend, stating: “If a young lady meets a young man with a ring on his finger, she is to turn the ring two or three times.” Eventually, this practice was banned. Some establishments even had to put signs that this practice is banned.
19. H.H. Holmes
Dr. Henry Howard Holmes was best known as H. H. Holmes. Throughout history, he is remembered as a bigamist, a con artist, and one of America’s first serial killers.
He was so obsessed with hurting and killing people that he built a hotel for those purposes only. He soundproofed bedrooms, loaded the place with trap doors, and included two incinerators for body disposal.
18. Medical Practices
There’s a reason you’ve never heard a friend long for “the good ol’ days of 19th-century medicine.” It was a common practice to dose patients with alcohol and morphine.
Don’t judge them, that’s just what they had to work with. Morphine was commercially produced by mid-century, and things like “Fruit Salt.” Ailments like asthma were treated with heroin.
17. Diseases Were Major
The 19th-century was filled with various diseases. They were so strong and lasting, that people couldn’t get rid of soem of them for months. Numbers of death were high.
Infectious outbreaks were frequent and moved from easy to deal with to hard to survive. People constantly battled smallpox, typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and cholera was just entering the scene.
16. Infant Mortality
It’s never easy to deal with infant mortality. There are many reasons why infant mortality occurs, and none is easy to deal with. Even today, child and infant mortality are still high.
You can blame education, non-educated people, medical knowledge, high poverty rate, or several other factors, but the truth is that in the 19th-century only 40% of born children would make it to age five.
15. Adult Mortality
Infants and children mortality was high, but it was also followed by adult mortality. You do know that today we live much longer than we used to just a century or two ago?
The 19th-century was a hard period, and surviving a day during that time was like dodging a bullet. People had to fight cholera, smallpox, horrible diets, and so on. At the time, the average life span was about 41 years.
14. Photo Opportunities
Did you think that taking photos at the family picnic is difficult and annoying? Try being a photographer in the 19th-century. That job was stressful and here is why.
At the time, photographers had an unusual task. In the 1800s it was popular to take photos of dead relatives, at least newly deceased relatives. That was seen as the last chance to remember them.
13. Fighting Each Other
Did you know that just in the 19th-century, the States fought in over 60 wars? That’s right! That period was challenging for the country and people were ready to fight for their freedom.
Maybe they were so used to fight, that they had to continue in that spirit. The Civil War alone saw between 650,000 and 1,000,000 deaths. Luckily, all the wars ended for good hopefully.
12. Country Life Was Vivid
Back in the 19th-century, traveling wasn’t easy or affordable. As result, people didn’t move a lot and were forces to focus on their community. People who lived in the countryside usually stayed there, so city folks had no idea how tough country life is.
Like today, country life comes with many perks and challenges. Bad weather is enough to ruin an entire year, and leave people without food. That was the case in the 19th-century when storms could wreck harvests and ruin livelihoods in a heartbeat. Next to that people had to deal with illnesses and injuries with no medical support around.
11. No Help for the ‘Crazy’
People with any kind of disabilities or mental issues were heavily marginalized. People didn’t have enough knowledge of the human brain nor how it may affect the human body, so special institutions were usually overcrowded.
The reason for this is simple – whenever doctors had no idea what the person was suffering from, he or she would be placed in a special institution. Some were often thrown into prisons or their families had to manage them. The most common mental illness treatment included electro-shocking, bloodletting, and purgatives.
10. Hairpin Pilfering
The longer the hair, the more beautiful the girl?! This was a thing in the 19th-century, to have long hair and see who can wear it better. Also, at the time boys asked girls for their hairpins.
The reason? The simple hairpin was a token of successful flirt. With time the challenge evolved. “I know fellows who have followed a girl for squares,” one man told the local paper.
9. Serious Hygiene Issues
All perfumes in the world couldn’t mask a 19th-century musk. People really had a bad odor. Some records say that people used to smell worse than animals.
At the time, tooth brushing wasn’t a thing, the soup wasn’t a household item yet, and baths were a weekly thing – if you were lucky enough. Luckily, things have changed since then.
In the late century, owning a car was strictly reserved for extremely rich people. In a way, it was a cool thing that only rich people got to experience.
An 1899 newspaper article out of Kansas’s Daily Monitor, debated what to call the fad, writing “society is wondering over teacups as to whether it shall go ‘automobiling,’ ‘autoing,’ or ‘billing.'”
7. Lobster Overload
A lobster might be of your budget today, but in the 19th-century it was an everyday dish. Poor people, or those who struggled with money from time to time, ate lobster a lot.
It was easy to catch it and it was free. The lobster was so frequently used as food, that servants needed clauses in their contracts that prevented lobster dinners more than 3 times per week.
6. Entering The 20th Century
You must be thinking – thank God the 19th-century was finally done, things will finally move forward. However, that was far from well. The 20th-century brought in new challenges.
The 20th-century came with its awkward moments. Have you heard about vibrating belts or beauty micrometers? Those are just two of many unusual beauty treatments that people in the 20th-century loved. Check what vibrating belt was used for.
5. Vibrating Belt
This invention was one of a kind, and it looks as ridiculous now as it looked decades ago. When the weight loss industry kicked in, people were ready to do the craziest things to lose centimeters.
So, a machine was created. A thick and wide rub would be placed around the waist. All that it could do was jiggling. Many claim that this machine did not affect weight loss, but only created giggles.
4. Beauty Micrometer
One thing is for sure – the beauty micrometer looks intimidating with its metal contraption. It was created by cosmetics titan Max Factor was the mastermind behind the beauty micrometer.
Using this beauty calibrator was a normal thing for both consumers and makeup manufacturers. Designed in the early 1930s the device was supposed to help which areas of your face needed the most makeup. Fascinating.
Originally, Vibrasaun was launched in pink. Maybe pink made it less intimidating? After all, you had to enter the sauna, while your entire body being closed by saun, except your head.
Luckily, although it looked a bit strange, it was inf act harmless. . Inside the machine, heat, and vibrations simulated exercise. Basically, it was like working out while the fresh air would run toward your relaxed face.
2. Electric Treatment
The minds behind this eclectic treatment had amazing marketing, They described their product as a machine that can change a person’s habits.
Simply said, their described it as “the equivalent of eight hours hard exercise.” They also add, “but the fortunate recipient doesn’t have to move off her comfortable couch.” Today you might call this a defibrillator.
Two things we can learn from cosmetology: people love dogs and would do everything for beauty. It turns out that beauty products, next to dogs, are a universal human obsession. They even used microphones to get the most of beauty.
People would go so far as to beautify their pets that they would provide them with the most expensive beauty treatment. That’s right, the 20th-century is responsible for huge love toward pets.