Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Old Rules for Marriage

How many of these rules do you think William and Katherine will be following?

Rules for Husbands and Wives
from A Primary Source 
written by
Matthew Carey
Having seen various sets of maxims for the conduct of married life, which have appeared to me to contain some very injudicious items, degrading to wives, sinking them below the rank they ought to occupy, and reducing them in some degree to the level of mere housekeepers, and believing them radically erroneous, I annex a set which appear more rational and just than most of those which I have seen:

1. A good husband will always regard his wife as his equal; treat her with kindness, respect and attention; and never address her with an air of authority, as if she were, as some husbands appear to regard their wives, a mere housekeeper.
2. He will never interfere in her domestic concerns, hiring servants, &c.
3. He will always keep her liberally supplied with money for furnishing his table in a style proportioned to his means, and for the purchase of dress suitable to her station in life.
4. He will cheerfully and promptly comply with all her reasonable requests, when it can be done, without loss, or great inconvenience.
5. He will never allow himself to lose his temper towards her, by indifferent cookery, or irregularity in the hours of meals, or any other mismanagement of her servants, knowing the difficulty of making them do their duty.
1. A good wife will always receive her husband with smiles,—leave nothing undone to render home agreeable—and gratefully reciprocate his kindness and attention.
2. She will study to discover means to gratify his inclinations, in regard to food and cookery; in the management of her family; in her dress, manners and deportment.
3. She will never attempt to rule, or appear to rule her husband. Such conduct degrades husbands.
4. She will, in every thing reasonable, comply with his wishes—and, as far as possible, anticipate them.
5. She will avoid all altercations or arguments leading to ill-humour—and more especially before company.

Posted by Barbara Scott, author of West of Heaven, sort of “lonesome soiled doves”

Available at Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for the Nook, Sony, Kobo and Apple’s iBookstore”.

or at DBP   http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-150/Barbara-Scott-West-of/Detail.bok

Cultural History

When I began writing my first manuscript, a time travel set in 1871 Wisconsin, my knowledge of the era came mainly from history books (like those read in school), from movies, or from other romance novels. It wasn’t enough. I needed to know more.

In each scene, I struggled to imagine myself in my heroine’s mind, a late 20th century urban business woman cast back into the life of a 1871 farm wife. But, although I had grown up in a house built in the late 19th century, it wasn’t the same. I hadn’t actually lived in the time when that house was new.

What did they eat and how was it cooked? What illnesses were common; what medicines were taken? What were their beliefs and values? How much was a pound of sugar? Did women hand-sew everything, or were some clothes ready made? What did a child learn in school? What dances were popular? How were holidays celebrated?

Not that I needed to put all those details into the story, but I needed to know so I could put myself in my characters’ minds.

In those pre-Internet days, I trudged to the library. There were, of course, long shelves filled with history books. I’d already read many. Most were written about famous events and battles, about economics and politics. I found almost nothing about how the every day man and woman actually lived their day-to-day lives.

What I was looking for, but didn’t realize it until a few years later, were books on cultural history.

Over time, I’ve found many books that proved helpful to better understanding the era. Foremost of these was a series Harper Collins published called Life in Everyday America Series.

A few years after the Harper Collins’ series, Writer’s Digest books published the Writer’s Guides to Everyday Life series.

I discovered a wealth of information about my Civil War veteran hero when I found The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union.
Later I uncovered its companion book – The Life of Johnny Reb.

Diaries and journals are an incredible source, first hand impressions of the time. Mary B. Chestnut’s Diary from Dixie gives riveting accounts of a southern woman’s life in the Civil War. These treasures have the added benefit of letting you hear how people spoke, and wrote, in that time.

Today we are so fortunate to have the internet. Through it, a whole world of resources have been opened.

A favorite site of mine, one I’ve shared before with Hearts Through History readers, is the Food Timeline, a record of foods and when they were introduced from the beginning of man’s recorded history.

There’s a huge amount of information on World’s Fairs from the first one held in 1851 London to the present. Go to Expo Museum.com.

Victorian era fashion information can be found at Harpers Bazaar.

I’ve found a wealth of material on the Lone Star College – Kingwood American Cultural History site. It gives links, decade by decade and topic by topic, for 19th Century America. It also has a link which will take you to the 20th Century.

~ What are your favorite books, or websites of interest for learning about cultural history and how your characters lived?

From the comments received for this post, I’ll hold a drawing for a lovely hand-crocheted bookmark. Drawing to be held Friday evening, April 29th. Be sure to leave a link with an e-mail address where you can be reached.
AND THE WINNER OF THE BOOKMARK IS…Anna Kathryn Lanier! Thanks so much to all who read and commented. Enjoy the links!
Posted by Debra Maher.
Please visit my blog at debmaher.com.