May History News Roundup 

May brought with it a ton of rain here in Denver, so I was even more happy to collect history news and research from the safety of my apartment. This roundup includes some very pretty pieces that have inspired some future features on this blog. 

Some highlights: 

  • A look at Boston’s preserved Victorian buildings
  • A complete collection of illustrations from Charles Dicken’s original publications
  • And of course, Queen Charlotte

Happy reading! ‘Touching back to a movement’: The Austin Séance recreates Victorian-era spiritualism

Spiritualism was a significant movement that took the mid 1800s by storm, but it is often overlooked and misunderstood. Two Austin performers are on a mission to educate present day audiences about what took place in the seances that had communities lined up out the door and the main players in the movement. Here’s why it’s important to them and how you can watch one of their presentations for yourself. 

My Modern Met: All of the Original Illustrations From Charles Dickens’ Novels Are Available To View Online

A feast for the eyes! While Charles Dickens’ books are now enjoyed as books, they were originally published in installments in popular literary magazines of the time, accompanied by impressive hand-drawn illustrations. The Charles Dickens Online Archive now has them available. They are fantastic! Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on my favorite. 

Smithsonian: Why Actress Sarah Bernhardt Was the First Modern Celebrity

Sarah Bernhardt’s legacy remains, and for good reason. Not only was she remarkably talented, but she did also creative and even outlandish things to make sure her name remained in the papers on that she remained an object of curiosity during her career. More research is being done on her life, with a new Paris exhibit just now opening, 100 years after her death. 

Want to learn more about her life? Check out our blog post Five fun facts about Sarah Bernhardt.

Boston Magazine: A Primer on Boston’s Victorian-Era Buildings

Boston is a city rich with history, but did you know that it has brag-worthy Victorian architecture scattered throughout? If you are planning a visit or live in the area make sure to check out this primer by the Boston Preservation Alliance. Modern Beauty Standards Are Ruining Period Pieces – Here’s How

What is your favorite period piece? Did you feel that it was created using a modern lens, especially when it came to the makeup of the female leads? This interesting blog post outlines a large handful of the modern cosmetic looks that we currently see in period pieces that we would have never seen during the times they depict. 

The Conversation: How English women wrote about their travels in the 19th Century

There has been an increase of interest in 19th-century female travelers and the writing they left behind chronically their adventures. These are interesting reads that provide great insight into 19th-century life, particularly as ladies who dared to explore new places on their own were often met with confusion and even discrimination. This study looks at some of the writings these women left behind, putting them into two categories: those who discover and those who observe. It is such a fun read and gave me more ideas for future blog posts! 

Tatler: Cartier ‘devant-de-corsage’ passed down from a Victorian opera singer to the late Lady Vestey is to be sold at auction

I happen to be writing about the history of the corsage this week, so I was so thrilled when I came across this article about one corsage of particular value that is at auction. Do you think you’d like to wear this to your next special event? 

Upworthy: What Hollywood gets wrong about corsets, and how the Victorians actually got a tiny waist

I am so glad that this topic is continuing to be studied and discussed! This is a great take on the many ways that the modern narrative about the corset is simply incorrect. It includes a list of other ways that women in the Victorian era adjusted their waist, complete with a great video. Check it out! 

The Guardian: Shockingly beautiful: bygone objects that put today’s aesthetic trends to shame

Which of these objects would you like me to cover on the blog first? From nautilus chalices to pomander balls and even hair jewelry this post looks at objects of beauty from days gone by that yes, put ours to shame. 

Mental Floss: Colorized Video Transports Viewers to Victorian England

The Internet Archive does important work, including remastering images from the past with color and sound to help us get a better understanding of what life was like in the past. This latest video shows aspects of English life from as far back as 130 years ago. It is kind of like taking a time machine! 

Economic Times: How encrypted Victorian newspaper personal ads shaped fiction like Sherlock and Enola Holmes

This is so interesting! We have all heard of the personal ads in Victorian newspapers, but did you know that a high level of encryption was used to write them and that there was an entire sub-sulture of people who followed them? They even inspired multiple Sherlock Holmes plots. 

And last but not least… 11 facts about Queen Charlotte: Britain’s longest reigning female consort

We have to include at least one article on Queen Charlotte this month, right? This is a great overview and is a wonderful read for either before or after you watch the Netflix series. 

Do you love learning about history? Enjoy these blog posts:

A brief history of Victorian afternoon tea

Victorian cocktails: The Golden Age of mixology

Victorian Dress Reform: Who, What, When, and Why

The titillating history of the tea dance