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Left-Handers of the 1700s and 1800s: The Famous and Infamous

By Geri Walton | March 20, 2020

There are many famous and infamous left-handers of the 1700s and 1800s. However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries being left-handed was often viewed as a defect. For example, in The Maternal Physician published in 1818 by American Mary Palmer Tyler, a thirty-five-year-old matron who published one of the first childcare manuals, talked about the…

Laudanum: An 18th and 19th Century Wonder Drug

By Geri Walton | March 16, 2020

Laudanum is a tincture of opium and was considered a wonder drug in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. Reddish-brown and extremely bitter, it contained almost all opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine and was therefore used to treat many conditions. However, it was primarily used as a pain medication and cough suppressant.

Harry T Hayward: Socialite, Arsonist, and Murderer

By Geri Walton | March 13, 2020

Harry T Hayward may have been a socialite, but he was also an arsonist and murderer. From a phrenologist’s point of view he was deemed at the time to be a “man of low type, the lower face being especially heavy, while the rear top head presents the gable conformation characteristics of the criminal class.”[1]…

Madame Récamier’s Bedroom: A Masterpiece

By Geri Walton | March 9, 2020

Everyone wanted to see Madame Récamier’s bedroom at her house located in the Chaussée d’Antin that had once belonged to Jacques Necker, minister to Louis XVI. The Récamiers purchased the house in 1798 through Necker’s daughter, Madame de Staël, who was selling the home for him. After they purchased it the Récamiers had the house…

Draughts or Checkers in the 1700 and 1800s

By Geri Walton | March 6, 2020

Draughts or checkers was a strategy board game played for fun and for its relaxing benefits in the 1700 and 1800s. The game had been around for a long time and involved two players moving diagonally with their game pieces and capturing opponent pieces by jumping them. Because it was easy to learn and play,…

Consuelo Vanderbilt: Marriage to the Duke of Marlborough

By Geri Walton | March 2, 2020

Consuelo Vanderbilt was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family, a family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age because of her great grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had great success with shipping and railroads and built an empire. Consuelo was named in honor of her godmother, Consuelo Yzanaga, a half Cuban,…

Cholera Ship Virginia in 1866: Liverpool to New York

By Geri Walton | February 28, 2020

What became known as the cholera ship Virginia set sail from Liverpool on 4 April 1866. At the time there were no cases of cholera reported in Liverpool and none of the passengers – “630 Irish, 220 Germans, Dutch, Danes and Swedes, and 179 English and Scotch”[1] – came from any known districts suffering from…

Cardiff Giant Hoax of 1869 in Cardiff, New York

By Geri Walton | February 24, 2020

Although the Berners Street hoax of 1810 may be one of the great hoaxes in England, the Cardiff Giant, a “petrified man” uncovered in Cardiff, New York, was one of the greatest hoaxes in American history. The giant was found behind William C. “Stub” Newell’s barn on 16 October 1869 as workers were digging a…

Andrew Ducrow: The Colossus of Equestrians

By Geri Walton | February 21, 2020

Andrew Ducrow was a British circus performer who because of his horsemanship was often called “The Colossus of Equestrians.” He had been trained by his father, Peter, an emigrant from Belgium, who had arrived in England in 1793 and was known for many years as the “Flemish Hercules.” Of him it was stated:

The London Burkers: Body Snatchers of the 1830s

By Geri Walton | February 17, 2020

The London Burkers were a group of body snatchers or resurrection men who operated in London in the 1830s and came to prominence in 1831. They operated as a gang stealing and selling dead bodies to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, St. Thomas’ Hospital, and King’s College School of Anatomy in order to allow anatomists, surgeons, and…