19th Century Nitty-Gritty: 19th-Century Rules for Achieving Happiness this Holiday Season

By Melissa Rayner

These days it’s a difficult feat to so much as step out of your home without being hit by the ubiquity of the holiday season. Lights, decorations, crowded shopping centers, and–if you’re one of the lucky ones–heaps and heaps of snow.

Sure, Christmas is heavily commercialized these days, but don’t we still love it all the same? Whenever I find myself stuck in a mob of angry shoppers, I take a deep breath and do my best to remind myself of the many things I love about this time of year. And where’s the easiest place to find a heaping stocking full of warm fuzzies?

HINT:  With this series, the answer is always enthusiastic, and it’s always “The 19th century!”

Why, it’s the 19th century, of course! And after all the recent Black Friday hullabaloo, I think we need our favorite century more than ever. Let’s go there now…

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: All this for a loaf of bread?

By Melissa Rayner

Victor Hugo’s famed novel–and the play that sprung forth from that novel–has been in the media quite a bit lately. Who that hears the story doesn’t fall in love with the noble criminal, Jean Valjean? Sure, he stole, but it was only a loaf of bread, and he was only trying to feed his impoverished nieces and nephews. Did he really need to be imprisoned for the better part of his adult life?

Book reviewers–both contemporary to our times and contemporary to Hugo’s–agree that Jean Valjean is a tragic figure, a noble one. Just check out this concluding snippet from an 1862 review of the novel in the Birmingham Daily Post (courtesy of 19th Century British Newspapers). Despite the obvious ethnocentric nature of his stance, it’s clear the reviewer was a fan–and that he understood its message:

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: Dating Advice from the Age of Little Women

By Melissa Rayner

There’s a reason books like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and A Room with a View have proudly stood the test of time. There’s something magical about the courtship process, something so timelessly romantic that we’re still hooked on these classic tomes more than a century later.

Ladies, do you long to be wooed? Find yourself wishing you could find your very own Mr. Darcy? Heck, would you even settle for Heathcliff?

Gents, are you pursuing someone who rebuffs your attempts at every turn? Close to giving up on the one your heart desires, because nothing ever turns out in your favor?

Oh, ye, who are love-lorn, unrequited in your affections, or otherwise lacking in the love department, take heed! We need only look at the nineteenth century to solve all your woes. So, come hither, and let’s look to the age of courtship, old-fashioned values, and “mellifluous song.”

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: Dancing with Jane Austen

By Jennifer Albers-Smith

It’s certainly no twerk (thank goodness), but there are people all over who love to dress up and dance the way people danced in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain. What woman in love with Jane Austen’s world wouldn’t dream of going back in time and being Elizabeth Bennet at a ball, meeting Darcy (minus the rejection part)?

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: “Rock” and Roll

By Bethany Dotson

My name is Bethany Dotson, and I’m a market development manager here at Gale – and, for today, your featured guest blogger on Nineteenth-Century Nitty Gritty. My background is in English and Spanish literature, and I love all things Victorian.

I have recently discovered the joys of audiobooks on my commute—with the complication that the four miles I drive to work lends itself to only a few pages at a time. For the last few weeks, then, I have been enjoying (I can’t say devouring at this pace) Simon Winchester’s The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, about—well, about the birth of modern geology.

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: Out of Savagery into Civilization

By Melissa Rayner

Native American rights have been in the news quite a bit lately, especially as they relate to the Redskins controversy. That got me thinking:  How were things back in our favorite century?

And what I found broke my heart, much in the same way reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison breaks my heart every single time (yes, normally, these blog posts are kind of hilarious, and I promise to return to hilarity next week).

My search turned up an autobiography by Joseph K. Griffis (formerly Tahan), Out of Savagery into Civilization, in which he recounts–and even dumbs down–his many adventures as a wild man of the plains and how he eventually found his place among learned, civilized society. Here, the introduction lays out his many experiences:

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: The Indian Exhibition

By Melissa Rayner

The previous posts in this series have explored Western life through a Western lens. This week, I’d like to mix it up a little. Let’s take a look at the East for a change, and let’s look at it through… a Western lens–well, you can’t change everything at once, can you?

The World’s Fair, what would you give to be able to travel back in time and attend it for yourself? If you just lend me a few moments of your time, I can take you to this marvelous, majestic, mysterious, and otherwise m-ridden land. Close your eyes…

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19th Century Nitty-Gritty: Time to Enroll at Ye Old Boarding School

19th c NG, Week 2By Melissa Rayner

Last week we had a lot of fun figuring out how we would indubitably meet our demises in ye old nineteenth century. This week I want to put forward something just a little less morbid, because it’s hard to keep readers engaged without sending them the occasional infusion of hope.

So I found this image of a Dumbledore doppelganger, and my inner geek got very excited. If you’re anything like me, the Harry Potter series made you daydream not just about being a wizard, but also about attending boarding school. Well, since our time travels are already pretty magical, today I’d like to take you back in time to a nineteenth century boarding school.

Ready? Because here we go!

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The 19th Century Nitty-Gritty: An Entirely New Blog Series

By Melissa Rayner19th c NG, Week 1, small

Does dealing with modern technology give you a headache? Have you ever felt like maybe you were born in the wrong century? Do you long for the days of Austen, Bronte, and Dickens?

Welcome home.

That’s right! This is the first in an entirely new blog series, a series that celebrates everybody’s–Right? Everybody’s!–favorite century, the 19th. But, alas, there is a catch…

We’ll be using modern technology to facilitate our journey back in time. Worry not, though. That part is easy, thanks to our favorite digital resources, Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Smithsonian Collections Online, and even a few special guest resources you’ll meet later down the road.

What’s more, we’ll do all the heavy lifting for you and deliver our findings in a neat and pretty blog post, along with a fancy list of references in case you’d like to check them out for yourself.

The best news? We’ll be hosting this journey back through time each and every Wednesday, right here on the Gale Blog. So put on your petticoat or hitch up your britches, this incredible time travel opportunity starts right now.

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