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

3 min read

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.

<insert musical montage, starting with hip hop then transforming into classic rock, disco, jazz, until all you’re left with is the lone song of a lively gramophone>

Welcome to the late 19th century. We’re so glad you’re here. However, we’d advise you not to stay for long, otherwise you are sure to catch your death.

If you’re a child, then you best be on the lookout for whooping cough, diarrhea, and other seemingly innocuous diseases. All that headache-inducing, modern technology? Well, we don’t have that to save your life.

Men, expect to die in your 40’s. Find your city of residence in the pages below for a more accurate prediction of precisely when you’ll kick that bucket over for good.

life expectancy sheet

And women–poor women–you face so many dangers, peculiar uniquely to your gender! Dangers that may or may not lead to death, dangers like:

“congenital malformations, hereditary somatic vices, lack of proper exercise, insufficient sleep, overwork, constipation, erotic literature, faulty dress, accidents, non-lactation, improper schooling, malnutrition, self-defilement, prevention of conception, late marriage, ungratified passion, excessive coition, “incompatibility”, abortion, obstetric injuries, carelessness after parturition, marriage with disease of the genitals existent, imprudence during menstruation, prolificacy, and bacille infection.”

Could this be a cure to all our peculiar problems?
Could this be a cure to all our peculiar problems?

Oh my, of all the terrible ways to go! I suppose I’ll take my death via erotic literature as it seems the least painful…

But, wait, we’ve not been here long at all. There’s still plenty of time to escape with our lives! Back to the 21st century we go until we meet again next Wednesday and dare to brave the plethora of perils apparent that await us in our favorite time period of all.


  1. “Expectancy of Life in Cities.” Annals of Hygiene 2.9 (1887): 354+. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 3 Sept. 2014.
  2. Howgrave’s Stamford Mercury (Stamford, England), Sunday, July 13, 1732; pg. 3; Issue 5. British Newspapers, Part IV: 1780-1950.
  3. “Prevalent and Dangerous English Diseases.” Watchman 5 Dec. 1860: 393. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 3 Sept. 2014.
  4. “The Leading Cause of Diseases Peculiar to Women.” Massachusetts Medical Journal 17.12 (1897): 550+. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 3 Sept. 2014.
  5. “The Treatment of Whooping Cough.” The Western and Southern Medical Recorder XXVI.17 (1891): 512. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 3 Sept. 2014.



Melissa for Caricature (2)About the Author

Melissa is obsessed with books, birds, and bonbons. She is a new mom and holds an MA in Applied Sociology. She also writes fiction and skips about the interweb as Emlyn Chand.






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