March 29, 2010

Stinging Nettle: A Plant with 1,000 Uses

"Tender-handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you for your pains; Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains. 'Tis the same with common natures, Use 'em kindly, they rebel; But, be rough as nutmeg-graters, And the rogues obey you well," - Aaron Hill, 1750
 Spring is finally here, I was helping out at the Colonial living history farm where I work. I was anxious to see how it changed over the winter and to see all of the animals. Along the path up to the farmhouse, we have stinging nettle growing along our split rail fence. They are just springing up, the best time to eat them. At this stage they don't sting because the poison fulled barbs have not developed fully. 
      Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), is a plant native to Europe, North America and Asia. It is commonly considered a nuisance, like poison ivy, due to the fact that its leaves have thousands of tiny hollow needles filled with chemicals that will be transferred into your skin if you touch it. It has been used since the Bronze Age to make cloth, green dye, twine, fishing nets, vegetarian rennet (to help make cheese,) and was even eaten as a vegetable. If you boil stinging nettle, it will not sting when you eat it.

      Stinging Nettle was popular in folk medicine and folklore. It is one of the 9 herbs listed in the10th century, Anglo-Saxon 9 Herbs Charm.  Robert Kay Gordon, an English Literature professor and author claimed this poem was "clearly an old heathen thing which ha[d] been subjected to Christian censorship." The poem describes mixing herbs together to create medicine. Perhaps the mixture really worked as Nettles are still used in medicine today, some examples can be seen at the University of Maryland website. A reading of the 9 Herbs Charm can be heard at Anglo Saxon Aloud. According to Irish Tradition, 3 bowls of Nettle Soup, when eaten in the month of May, will prevent rheumatism for the year. A recipe for Irish Nettle Soup can be found at Soup Kitchen Recipes.
     Nettles had been used to make a cheaper form of linen in Medieval and Colonial times.  In the 1850s, Germany used Nettles to make high quality paper and later used nettle fiber during WWI to make military uniforms, the uniforms were made up of 85% nettles due to the cotton shortage.

      If you are among the brave and are considering trying to eat Stinging Nettle, The Bottle Inn, in Marshwood, England hosts a national raw nettle eating contest in which the contestants can numb their tongues with nothing but beer. It sounds painful to me! (Especially when they talk about facial paralysis.)

For those interested in growing their own heirloom Nettles for soups and salads, Local Harvest, sells seed packets. I was so happy to be back on the farm. I was glad to see the animals again, they are getting so big, especially the pigs. I had to clean out the kitchen in the farmhouse but it was worth it to see all of the people I hadn't seen all winter. I guess if I want to try some Nettle, now would be the time to do it. I don't know if I am that brave, just yet. 

March 24, 2010

How to Set a 19th Century Dinner Table for a Dinner Party

Civil War DinnerI have been thinking of hosting a Victorian dinner party. It's just a notion in my head right now, but I thought I should at least look into the proper way to entertain. I love the cartoon on the left, it was printed in Harper's Weekly in 1861. The large hoop skirts were condemned by many publications but still remained "all the rage" during the war. It also shows the alternating male and female seat situation, proper for the time. Not only were men and women integrated but couples were also split up in an attempt to make conversation more lively. Not sitting next to the person you came with forces everyone to be social and get to know each other. :D I think a fun dress-up dinner by candle and lamp light with some Strauss playing quietly in the background would be appreciated. Although, I would feel bad as I have never been a hostess before and know absolutely nothing about wine and would prefer not to serve it.     

I have been reading up on entertaining in Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving By Mary Foote Henderson, published in 1876 (excerpts on setting the table below:)
    Civil War reenacting Table Setting
  • "Put a thick baize under the table-cloth. This is quite indispensable. It prevents noise, and the finest and handsomest table - linen looks comparatively thin and sleazy on a bare table."
  • "At a dinner party, place a little bouquet by the side of the plate of each lady, in a small glass or silver bouquet - holder. At the gentlemen's plates put a little bunch of three or four flowers, called a boutonniere, in the folds of the napkin. As soon as the gentlemen are seated at table, they may attach them to the left lapel of the coat."
  • "Put as many knives, forks, and spoons by the side of the plate of each person as will be necessary to use in all the different courses. Place the knives and spoons on the right side, and the forks on the left side, of the plates. This saves the trouble of replacing a knife and fork or spoon as each course is brought on."
  •  "Place the napkin, neatly folded, on the plate, with a piece of bread an inch thick, and three inches long, or a small cold bread roll, in the folds or on the top of the napkin."
  • "Put a glass for water, and as many wine-glasses as are necessary at each plate. Fill the water-glass just before the dinner is announced, unless caraffes are used. These are kept on the table all the time, well filled with water, one caraffe being sufficient for two or three persons. All the wine intended to be served decanted should be placed on the table, conveniently arranged at different points." Caraffes were used at all of the restaurants in Ireland to hold water. They looked very picturesque on the tables and were helpful as you didn't have to ask for water.   
  • "At opposite sides of the table place salt and pepper stands, together with the different fancy spoons, crossed by their side, which may be necessary at private dinners, for serving dishes."
  • Select as many plates as will be necessary for all the different courses. Those intended for cold dishes, such as salad, dessert, etc., place on the sideboard, or at any convenient place. Have those plates intended for dessert already prepared, with a finger-bowl on each plate. The finger-glasses should be half filled with water, with a slice of lemon in each, or a geranium leaf and one flower, or a little boutonniere: a sprig of lemonverbena is pretty, and leaves a pleasant odor on the fingers after pressing it in the bowl. In Paris, the water is generally warm, and scented with peppermint. 
  • "The warm dishes—not hot dishes—keep in a tin closet or on the top shelf of the range until the moment of serving. A plate of bread should also be on the sideboard.
  • Place the soup-tureen (with soup that has been brought to the boiling-point just before serving) and the soup-plates before the seat of the hostess." This is to keep the dishes warm. 
  • "Dinner being now ready, it should be announced by the butler or dining-room maid. Never ring a bell for a meal. Bells do very well for country inns and steamboats, but in private houses the menage should be conducted with as little noise as possible."
  • "Each dish is served as a separate course. The butler first places the pile of plates necessary for the course before the host or hostess. He next sets the dish to be served before the host or hostess, just beyond the pile of plates. The soup, salad, and dessert should be placed invariably before the hostess, and every other dish before the host. As each plate is ready, the host puts it upon the small salver held by the butler, who then with his own hand places this and the other plates in a similar manner on the table before each of the guests. If a second dish is served in the course, the butler, putting in it a spoon, presents it on the left side of each person, allowing him to help himself. As soon as any one has finished with his plate, the butler should remove it immediately, without waiting for others to finish. This would take too much time. When all the plates are removed, the butler should bring on the next course. It is not necessary to use the crumb-scraper to clean the cloth until just before the dessert is served. He should proceed in the same manner to distribute and take off the plates until the dessert is served, when he can leave the room."
  • "If one has nothing for dinner but soup, hash, and lettuce, put them on the table in style: serve them in three courses, and one will imagine it a much better dinner than if carelessly served."
This will be fun if I can convince someone to be my "butler" for a night. :D Unlikely. It sounds fun planning the whole thing from the menu items to the guests and the entertainments. There are a lot of war scenarios for the men to enjoy, I think dragging those men to a fancy dinner party would be a delight to all of the ladies who can never take part in the military aspects of reenacting. I'm still debating on whether to host this at night at a reenactment or at my house, perhaps for my birthday. I'm excited at the idea nonetheless.    

March 20, 2010

19th Century Etiquette for Gentlemen

Civil War Etiquette
 This post is kind of long. I was reading about etiquette for gentlemen in the 1860s. A surprising amount of polite customs still survive today, and some don't but should. Reading about it really sparks the imagination. Was there really a time when people were this considerate of other people? I feel that modern times have emphasized the individual so much that we are beginning to feel self-important and slightly ignorant of the plights of others. In a time before personal computers, ipods, cell phones and instant messaging, people used to have to use niceties and inner strength to learn to get along with each other. I feel that we use digital media to distance ourselves from others. If we don't want to talk to a friend, we don't pick up the phone. We leave notes on people's websites and and send email but rarely make phone calls or make visits. Today, if you do not have a Facebook, you might as well not exist. Is this avoidant behavior really good for our relationships? Remember how fun it used to be to get a heartfelt letter in the mail or when a friend knocked on the door? :D We could all use a reminder in "the art of getting along with people."

 Some excerpts from: The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness By Cecil B. Hartley (1860.)
    Civil War Reenacting Etiquette
  • “A gentleman will be always polite, in the parlor, dining-room, and in the street. This Last clause will especially include courtesy towards ladies, no matter what may be their age or position. A man who will annoy or insult a woman in the street, lowers himself to a brute, no matter whether he offends by look, word, or gesture, (page 66.)”
  • “In a crowd never rudely push aside those who impede your progress, but wait patiently until the way is clear, (66.)” “If obliged to cross a plank, or narrow path, let any lady or old person who may also be passing, precede you. In case the way is slippery or in any way unsafe, you may, with perfect propriety, offer to assist either a lady or elderly person in crossing it, (67.) 
  • “Do not smoke in the street until after dark, and then remove your cigar from your mouth, if you meet a lady, (67.)” 
  • “In case of a sudden fall of rain, you may, with perfect propriety, offer jour umbrella to a lady who is un-provided with one. If she accepts it, and asks your address to return it, leave it with her; if she hesitates, and does not wish to deprive you of the use of it, you may offer to accompany her to her destination, and then, do not open a conversation ; let your manner be respectful, and when you leave her, let her thank you, assure her of the pleasure it has given you to be of service, bow, and leave her (67-68.)” 
  • “In meeting a lady friend, wait for her to bow to you, and in returning her salutation, remove your hat. To a gentleman you may bow, merely touching your hat, if he is alone or with another gentleman; but if he has a lady with him, raise your hat in bowing to him. If you stop to speak to a lady, hold your hat in your hand, until she leaves you, unless she requests you to replace it. With a gentleman you may replace it immediately, (68.) 
  • “When you are escorting a lady in the street, politeness does not absolutely require you to carry her bundle or pa-rasol, but if you are gallant you will do so, (68.)"
  • “A true gentleman never stops to consider what may be the position of any woman whom it is in his power to aid in the street. He will assist an Irish washerwoman with her large basket or bundle over a crossing, or carry over the little charges of a distressed negro nurse, with the same gentle courtesy which he would extend toward the lady who was stepping from her private carriage. The true spirit of chivalry makes the courtesy due to the sex, not to the position of the individual, (68.) 
  • “Offer your seat in any public conveyance, to a lady who is standing. It is often quite as great a kindness and mark of courtesy to take a child in your lap, (70.)"
  • “Where there are several ladies, and you are required to escort one of them, select the elderly, or those whose personal appearance will probably make them least likely to be sought by others. You will probably be repaid by finding them very intelligent, and with a fund of conversation. If there are more ladies than gentlemen, you may offer an arm to two, with some jest about the difficulty of choosing, or the double honor you enjoy, (70.)” 
  • “His position as a man in society obliges him to call, … Upon any lady who has accepted his services as an escort, either for a journey or the return from a ball or evening party ; this call must be made the day after he has thus escorted the lady; (75-76.)” 
  • “Never make a call upon a lady before eleven o'clock in the morning, or after nine in the evening, (78.)"
  • “If a lady enters the room where you are making a call, rise, and remain standing until she is seated. Even if she is a perfect stranger, offer her a chair, if there is none near her. You must rise if a lady leaves the room, and remain standing until she has passed out, (84.) I hope this means “passed out of the room”, you’d have to wait forever for her to “pass out” naturally, unless her corset is too tight. :D
  • “In inviting a lady to dance with you, the words, "Will you honor me with your hand for a quadrille?" or, "Shall I have the honor of dancing this set with you?" are more used now than "Shall I have the pleasure ?" or, " Will you give me the pleasure of dancing with you ? (93.)"
  • “Let your hostess understand that you are at her service for the evening, that she may have a prospect of giving her wall flowers a partner, and, however unattractive these may prove, endeavor to make yourself as agreeable to them as possible, ( 94.)"
  • “WHEN you wish to invite a lady to accompany you to the theatre, opera, a concert, or any 'other public place of amusement, send the invitation the day previous to the one selected for taking her, and write it in the third person. If it is the first time you have invited her, include her mother, sister, or some other lady in the invitation. If she accepts your invitation, let it be your next care to secure good seats, for it is but a poor compliment to invite a lady to go to the opera, and put her in an uncomfortable seat, where she can neither hear, see, nor be seen, (294.)"
  • “One may smoke in a railway-carriage in spite of by-laws, if one has first obtained the consent of every one present; but if there be a lady there, though she give her consent, smoke not. In nine cases out of ten, she will give it from good nature, (304.)"
  • “But if you smoke, or if you are in the company of smokers, and are to wear your clothes in the presence of ladies afterwards, you must change them to smoke in. A host who asks you to smoke, will generally offer you an old coat for the purpose. You must also, after smoking, rinse the mouth well out, and, if possible, brush the teeth, (304.)"
  • “If you are ever tempted to speak against a woman, think first—" Suppose she were my sister!" You can never gain anything by bringing your voice against a woman, even though she may deserve contempt, and your forbearance may shame others into a similar silence. It is a cowardly tongue that will take a woman's name upon it to injure her; though many men do this, who would fear,—absolutely be afraid, to speak against a man, or that same woman, had she a manly arm to protect her, (319.)" 
The whole book is very interesting and contains a lot of the things that we still consider polite today. It is worth taking a look at. 

March 17, 2010

Guest Post: Andy on His Civil War Reenacting Fiddle

Everyone who has read my blog has heard me refer to my significant other, Andy. Andy has kindly written a post about his Civil War reenacting fiddle:

Since Christmas I have been excited. You see, for those of you who may not know me personally, for a little over a year now I have been learning to play the fiddle.  For about two years, I have been loving music from all over Ireland.  Well for Christmas, Steph bought me an antique fiddle (1920ish.)  She said this one was for when we go out reenacting.  So, since then I have wanted to make this violin a bit more correct for the Civil War time period.  Fortunately, violins have not changed very much over the last few hundred years.  The major changes I have to make are the removal of the chinrest and the conversion from steel to gut strings.  The other change I want to make is to the tailpiece.  You can see in the picture there are three tailpieces.  The black one that is not attached was the original.  It is broken, and the previous owner replaced it with the smaller sized one currently on it.  The brown one is one I am going to replace it with, because I want to have the proper size on the fiddle.

You can see from the close-up that the tailpiece was attached with a piece of wire.  I am going to replace it with a piece of catgut.  I begin by removing the things I am going to replace.  Most of the time you don’t want to take everything off at once, but as I am replacing the tailpiece and tailgut there isn’t much choice.  After unwinding the strings from the pegs, I can take off the old tailpiece.  I put the bridge aside for later

Before I can put the new strings on, I will need to prepare the new tailpiece.  There are a few things needed for this.  I need the length of tailgut I bought, some stitching gut (or an old gut E-string) and a lighter or source of flame.  When the end of the gut is burned, it unwinds and becomes stiff.  The stitching gut is tied around the ends as reinforcement.  These wider ends prevent the gut from slipping through the holes in the tailpiece.  Once the tailpiece is ready, I can begin to attach the strings.

The strings come in double lengths, so you can clip them in half—you actually get two strings (except for the G-string, which is wound with silver—that one is a bit more expensive!).  The strings don’t use ball ends like many steel strings, but they do use a similar technique of holding themselves in place.  The string is held in place by a knot tied in the end.  The package of these strings shows you how to tie the knot—you need to burn the end of the string to prevent it from slipping from the knot.
I had problems at first with the G and E strings, because they are thinner and the knots were small. By tying extra knots, I got them to stay.  The strings take a lot longer the stretch than steel strings, but they sounded great after they were able to stay in tune for more than 20 seconds.

Thanks, Andy! The above photo is of Andy's modern fiddle along with his "Civil War" fiddle. We are currently trying to learn to play the fiddle and guitar together--a huge task for us! We are hoping to record something so you can hear how the gut strings sound. Civil War tuning is lower than today's modern tuning, the sound is more melancholy. We were hoping to get a good Irish song recorded in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we'll try tomorrow.    

March 15, 2010

Civil War Era Civilian Vest

This is a civilian vest that I sewed for Andy, so he could have something kind of nice to wear to the balls over his muddy soldier clothes. I sewed this a long, long time ago and never finished sewing the button holes.

I don't know why I have such an aversion to buttonholes, they aren't particularly difficult and it is the only thing preventing this vest from being wearable.  

The vest is made of a heavy patterned tapestry cotton with a white cotton lining. The buttons are original bone buttons.  I'm pretty sure this vest really isn't for dancing but to forward Andy's secret desire to be Sherlock Holmes (the original one of course!) :D He is currently reading to me the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I am enjoying it very much. He is very good at reading and uses different voices and accents for each character. It's a real treat.   
 During the mid 1800s, no gentleman would be without a vest and a coat. Working class men and many soldiers did not adhere to the normal rules of society and many are photographed in just their shirts.
Sarah Morgan, a proper young lady, who was 18 years old when the war broke out, visited sailors in the South and remarked in her diary "He, the doctor and the Captain, were the only ones who possessed a coat in the whole crowd, the few who saved theirs, carrying them over their arms. Mr Read more than once blushingly remarked that they were prepared to fight, and hardly expected to meet us; but we pretended to think there was nothing unusual in his dress. I can understand though, that he should feel rather awkward; I would not like to meet him, if I was in the same costume."

The vest itself was not hard to sew and sewed up rather quickly. This was my first time sewing a nice lining and not one just to add body to a garment. I think it turned out rather nicely. Hopefully, I will finish this soon to keep Andy from going around in just his shirt. The horror! :D If anyone is interested in learning how to hand sew buttonholes, there is a really good tutorial on the blog: Art, Beauty and Well-Ordered Chaos.   
Enter text here. Enter text here.Enter text here.

March 12, 2010

The Art of the Bookshelf

I love books. I guess the proper term would be "bibliophile." There is an ongoing debate about whether the books on your bookshelf should be books you love to read, every book you own, or books that you may or may not have read that you feel represent yourself. I guess an entirely different debate would be whether or not to "display" books at all. I really don't see having a bookshelf as a way of displaying books, it's more like book storage to me. Why own a book that you will never be able to find because it's buried in a box in the attic?   

I don't keep any books that I wouldn't want to read again or that I feel I would never need to reference again. I don't feel a need to keep every book I read, especially fiction. Although, I do keep the classics.

I feel that my books do represent myself. I think everyone would know my interests if they saw my bookshelf. It seems silly to me to even buy a book that you didn't want to read. I had never even thought that people would buy books they didn't plan on reading, just because it is the kind of book that a person that they wish to be seen as would read. I have seen a lot of "book lists" and comments on blogs that indicate people actually do this. For what purpose? If you want to be the type of person who reads English translations of French archeological work in South America, why aren't you reading and enjoying those books? I don't understand this and am slightly offended by this. It feels as if a person who does this is allowing a book to lie for them. :D Maybe I am thinking too deeply about this. I guess it would not be lying if you wanting to use a book to motivate you to become a better person (such as "one of these days I'm just going to read that 10,000 page Shelby Foote trilogy and enjoy and learn all I can from it.)    

I have my books organized by subject and sometimes sub-subject. It seems a little bizarre but I like to be able to find the books I need when I need them. It could be worse, I could be card cataloging them with a book scanner. :D

I'm a big fan of information and sharing information. I've been thinking about cataloging some of the historical books and research books that I have to loan to researchers and reenactors. Books are expensive and I feel that some reenactor's impressions and research suffer from not having access to some of the better researched books (which can cost upwards of $35-$100.) It's not that I don't want to benefit the authors but I do think people are more willing to spend large amounts of money once they have perused a book and realize that the book is worth the investment. I don't know why this is but a lot of the reenactors that I know are reluctant to share their information in an effort to remain a "top authority" on a subject. I think there is always something new to be learned and discovered and information hoarding just leads to making everyone look bad, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Maybe I will make a page on my sidebar listing my books, perhaps it will inspire people to do the same. Happy reading. :D

March 8, 2010

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Dixon's

Yesterday, Andy and I went on a day trip. We normally go on day trips in the summer because we both work and find it hard to find time to take long trips. We usually pack a picnic lunch and some snacks and have a fun day singing together in the car until we get there, and then taking photographs and enjoying a good walk. Today was such a nice day that we drove out to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop to look at all of the neat stuff they always have in there and we went out to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. It was such a nice day out; we didn't even have to wear heavy coats! Despite this fact, when we got to Hawk Mountain, there was still at least six inches of snow still on the mountain top.

The route to Hawk Mountain is a scenic one of dense woods and large open fields. It is dotted with creeks, wildlife and old barns with bright "hex signs" touting their Pennsylvania Dutch roots. The mountainside was slippery and hiking though snow made it a little more difficult than it normally is to hike up there. There were still lots of other people hiking there too.

The mountain itself has a lot of well kept secrets and historical folklore.  

Warning: Do not read the rest of this post if you do not like ghost stories, or if you are going to be home alone tonight and don't feel like being spooked out all night. :D 

One spooky folk story surrounds Schaumboch's Tavern on Hawk Mountain Road. The Gerhardt family, were among the first non-native settlers of the mountain. In February 1756, members of the Lenni Lenape Native American tribe, who inhabited the mountain, destroyed the Gerhardt house killing a man, two women and six children after destroying another house nearby. Jacob Gerhardt, only eleven years old when the Native Americans attacked, ran during the attack and managed to survive. The Pennsylvania Gazette at the time reported that the Leni Lenape took scalps from the fallen. A record of this incident from 1844 can be read here. Jacob Gerhardt, returned to the mountain and built the house that is now known as Schaumboch's Tavern. 

Jacob eventually rented the house out to Mathias Schaumboch (also spelled Matthias Schaumbacher,) who lived in the house with his wife in the mid-1800s. They rented rooms out for a living and were not very popular with locals and many people who did stay in the house relayed horror stories to the townspeople, if they were ever seen again. Many people reportedly disappeared after renting from him. The townspeople, who always suspected foul play, became very suspicious of his business when he started selling army surplus, left over from the Civil War, after a peddler selling the same goods lodged there and was never seen again. On his deathbed in 1879, Schaumboch admitted to killing and robbing more than 11 people and burying them in the land around the house. He stated that he stopped counting the number of victims when the skulls stopped fitting into the well on his property. He claimed to have murdered them with an axe, cut their flesh off of them,then let their bodies lay out in the woods to be picked clean by animals.  Local lore states that he " claimed that the deeds were not his own, but that they were caused by a great evil that lives on the mountain that whispered to him constantly, urging him to murder, even while he slept, (Delco Ghosts.) I have tried to verify the Mathias Schaumboch claims and the closest I could come is this modern newspaper article: The Morning Call. Apparently, Mathias' wife was a very nice lady who was well liked by everyone who met her. 

Later in 1890, a man named Mathias Berger, who was known to be a devout Catholic, lived as a hermit in a mud hut on the mountain slope. He was known to live very simply, by living off of the naturally growing food in the forest and by gathering water from a spring, half a mile from his house. He only would go into town a few times a year to buy supplies and attend church. He went missing and a search party was sent up to look for him. He was found robbed and beaten to death. The murderer was not found.      

With all of that gruesome history you can bet that there are lots of reported ghost sightings on the mountain.(Although, there are also UFO and Bigfoot sightings there too :D) I've camped on the mountain as a child and even went for a night time hike with my girl scout troop. We didn't see anything nor did any of us experience any of the things reported. The scenery is beautiful I have never had a bad time there. Oh, and the tavern mentioned above is someone's home now, so I don't think they'd appreciate people snooping in their yard. It is by the road and worth a drive by. I hear it is open to the public around Halloween.   

March 1, 2010

"People Just Smelled Worse Back Then..." : Period Deodorants

  I hear the statement that "People just smelled worse back then but everyone smelled so no one noticed," when people refer to the 19th century. I can't claim that this statement is wrong but it does conjure images of filthy, sweaty, putrid smelling people with rancid breath.

They did have water and soap. :D I feel like we tend to forget this. They had tons and tons of lotions, fragrant soaps, perfumes, powders, and creams. If anything, they probably smelled faintly of the inside of a Yankee Candle shop. On top of all of these inexpensive products, most people had a more rigorous daily cleaning regimen than most do today. While they were not taking two showers a day, they were "sponge" bathing out of a wash basin twice a day at least. It was said that it was best to wash hair in rain water--I know of few people today who would be so dedicated. Here is a book with a little segment on "How to Wash your Mouth," from 1865. Toothbrushes were common after the 1800s and so were toothpowders (although some books recommended charcoal for tooth whitening.)

A major difference in present-day cleanliness and 19th century cleanliness is the lack of modern day deodorant. This is always up for discussion at reenactments. Some people will sneak their little plastic tubes in their gear and others are determined to go deodorantless. But for everyone who has ever smelled an Amish person, I have been trying to find period solutions. I have heard that rubbing half a lemon under the arms is an early 1800s solution but as of right now, I can’t find any sources verifying it.    
For fun and possibly practical application (of the harmless ones,) I have included the following recipes detailing 19th century concoctions:

-->The New Family Receipt Book (1820):

-->From: Healthy Skin: A Popular Treatise on the Skin and Hair By Sir Erasmus Wilson (1854)  

Civil War Reenactor Deodorants
I think this one is particularly interesting because not only are they smelling the sweat on insane people, but also the sweat of mice. :D Interesting. I think the people visiting the doctor for smelling like onions or garlic is cute. 

-->Hall’s Journal of Health (1861): 
-->: The Medical World (1902)  Pg 116: 
This is one of those I just wouldn't recommend. Formaldehyde? I guess smelling dead is better than smelling bad. :D

During the 1860s perspiring was seen as a good thing, they realized the cooling application even if they did not understand the science behind it. Excessive sweating was seen as a sign of sickness that was followed by fevers. Many doctos claimed that many sicnesses were caused by sweating and cooling off too quickly, such as taking off a jacket after a walk.
I think I may try to make this powder from 1889 from The Practical Handbook of Toilet Preparations:

*Note: The Photograph at the top is from 1864. It is of soldiers bathing in the North Anna River.


Copyright © 2008-2020 Stephanie Ann Farra. All rights reserved.

All materials posted on this site are subject to copyrights owned by Stephanie Ann Farra. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any document found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the author has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.