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Wigs: Their Wearers and Eighteenth-Century Anecdotes

By Geri Walton | August 3, 2020

In the eighteenth century, those who wore wigs almost always powdered them. By the 1780s, young men were moving away from wigs and were powdering their own natural hair and by the 1790s both wigs and hair powder were used primarily by older, more conservative men, such as Voltaire, whom Madame Tussaud made sure had…

Ann Moore: The Impostor and Fasting-Woman of Tutbury

By Geri Walton | July 27, 2020

Ann Moore became famous as the “fasting-woman of Tutbury.” That was because she claimed that from 1807 to 1813, she ate nothing at all. Of course, such a claim was ludicrous and eventually her claims were proven to be a hoax and she was declared an impostor, just like the Kewsick impostor John Hatfield.

Olivia Langdon Clemens: Wife to Mark Twain

By Geri Walton | July 20, 2020

Olivia Langdon Clemens, often called “Livy” by her husband, was born on 27 November 1845 to Jervis Langdon, a wealthy businessman, and his wife, Olivia Lewis Langdon, in Elmira, New York. The family was religious, reformist, and abolitionist. Olivia was tutored at home and attended the Thurston’s Female Seminary and Elmira Female College, a school…

Eye Miniatures: For Lovers of the 18th and 19th centuries

By Geri Walton | July 13, 2020

Eye miniatures became a popular item to exchange among lovers and although the fashion began in the late 1700s it reached its zenith around 1803 or 1804. Among some of the earliest pieces produced was one given by the Prince Regent (the future George IV) to his lover and mistress Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. The gift…

Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier: A True Friendship

By Geri Walton | July 6, 2020

Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier became friends when Madame de Staël, whose first name was Germaine, was selling her father’s home in Paris. Her father was Jacques Necker, a prominent and popular banker and statesman who served as Director-General of Finance under Louis XVI. He was selling his rue du Mont Blanc home because…

Fourth of July: Celebrating Independence Day, 1777-1870

By Geri Walton | June 29, 2020

The Fourth of July, or Independence Day as it is sometimes called, did not become an official federal holiday anywhere in the United States until the U.S. Congress declared it as such on 28 June 1870 along with three other federal holidays, Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. Part of the reason it took so long…

Maria Mitchell: First Woman Astronomer in America

By Geri Walton | June 22, 2020

The first woman astronomer in America was Maria Mitchell. She was born on 1 August 1818 at No. 1 Vestal Street in Nantucket, Massachusetts, a year or so after Jane Austen died in Winchester, England. Maria’s father was William Mitchell, a cooper who then became a schoolteacher and her mother, Lydia Coleman, a library worker.…

Bonesetters: Joint Manipulators and Musculoskeletal Fixers

By Geri Walton | June 15, 2020

Bonesetters of the 1700s and 1800s were like today’s chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists rolled into one. They practiced joint manipulation and fixed musculoskeletal injuries using manual force. Traditionally, these practitioners did not have formal medical training but rather learned their skills on their own or from their family with bone-setting knowledge being passed down…

Chateau de Saint-Cloud in the 1700s and 1800s

By Geri Walton | June 8, 2020

The Chateau de Saint-Cloud was built on a woody hill that overlooked the left bank of the Seine River about three miles west of Paris. It had been expanded by Phillipe of France, Duke of Orléans in the seventeen century and was in the hands of the Orléans family until protracted negotiations were undertaken by…

Jane Cakebread: The Drunkest Woman in the World

By Geri Walton | June 1, 2020

Jane Cakebread, or “Miss Cakebread” as she liked to call herself, was a homeless and destitute woman considered the drunkest woman in the world in the 1800s. That was because she broke all records being arrested hundreds of times and convicted an amazing 281 times for drunkenness. Her constant drunkenness also meant that she constantly…