What did 19th century playgrounds look like?

What did 19th century playgrounds look like?

In the beginning of the novel Cold Mountain, a character recollect his childhood at a school house (maybe in the 1840s or 1850s in rural North Carolina) and describes flinging his hat out onto the playground from inside the building. Is this anachronistic? If not, what did 19th century playgrounds look like? When did they start to resemble the fort like structures with swings and such we know today?

Tyler Durden's comment does a great job with the first two parts of your question. This answer addresses when playgrounds began to look like the things we have today.

Short Answer: The modern American playground was championed by progressives in the 1880s-1890s; the most common playground equipment was all invented by the 1920s; and New Deal money made playgrounds ubiquitous in the 1930s.

Long Answer: The modern American playground was a pet project of progressives such as John Dewey and Teddy Roosevelt. The first public playground was opened in San Francisco in 1887. It included swings, slides, cart-rides pulled by goats, and a Roman Temple carousel. (source)

New York City owes its playgrounds to progressives' ability to organize and lobby. In 1898, the Outdoor Recreation League was founded, which went around placing slides and seesaws in parks near NYC slums. In 1902, a Reform party mayor had the Parks Department take responsibility for all of these parks; in 1903, Seward Park was opened as the first municipal park in the country to be equipped as a permanent playground. In 1906, a national playground advocacy group was founded (The Playground Association of America). (source)

In Chicago, progressive Jane Addams led the charge for playgrounds. Here's a picture of Chicago's Hull House playground in 1895. It's still mostly a wide open ground (but note play structures in the back and on the right). According to the Chicago Tribune, there were swings, rope ladders, and hammocks on the playground. (source)

Jane Addams was so dedicated to playgrounds that Hull House offered a two-year course on the topic of the playground. Carmelita Hinton, an alumna of this program, went on to invent and patent the jungle gym in 1920 together with her husband.

The New Deal provided the funds to make the playground ubiquitous. The infamous Robert Moses ("a product of the progressive playground movement") was appointed NYC's park commissioner in 1934:

In 1934, after seventy-five years, Central Park still had only a single playground, the Heckscher Playground in the southwest part of the park. In just three more years, it had twenty-two, including seventeen (twenty by 1941) "marginal playgrounds" dotted along the park's outer rim -- each equipped with slides, swings, jungle gyms, playhouses, and sandboxes and circled by benches for mothers and nurses.

By the end of his seven years, he had overseen a tripling of NYC's playgrounds, from 119 to 424. (source)

I'm sure there's something to be said for postwar suburbanization and the proliferation of "commercially available residential swing sets" (the first of which was apparently developed by a New England company in 1945). Maybe this is when we begin to see little fortresses like OP mentions. But for the most part, the modern playground had arrived by the 1930s.

PS: There are some great pictures of British kids sitting on wooden slides circa 1920 here.

Victorian Toys and Victorian Games

Not only in Victorian times but since the beginning of humanity toys of some type or other have been a part of children’s lives. We can only imagine what children used for toys in the earliest years of mans existence. A toy may have been no more than a rock or stick but it served its purpose of pacifying the child.

Sometimes a child’s curiosity or need for entertainment can only be satisfied with a toy. It is interesting to note that some of the earliest Victorian toys and games (or even earlier than Victorian times) resemble those that are used today. The game Quoits resembles ring toss and Skittles resembles bowling. You’ll learn more about these games as you read on.

It is important to note that Victorian Toys and Victorian Games were very expensive to buy in Victorian Times. Even wealthy children were allowed very few toys. Only the wealthiest could afford a Rocking horse like the one shown above. The cost of many toys at that time exceeded the average weekly pay that a father might earn. Educational toys were also very popular.

What Hygiene in the Victorian Era Was Really Like

The modern era is full of every convenience one could think of. We have reliable heating, indoor plumbing, and even at the barest income levels most of us could still afford soap and shampoo. However, this was not so in eras past. There was a time in the Middle Ages when bathing was seldom undertaken by the lower classes. And, many of the dim conditions of the Dark Ages followed into the 19th century, which was ruled by a need for progress despite the crippling poverty that ensnared many families.

In the 1800s many countries did not yet have public schools or compulsory education laws, nor were there codes as to what a basic home must have. Towards the end of the Victorian era (Queen Victoria died in 1901), many homes of the upper classes already had indoor plumbing, however even they had a much different outlook on hygiene than we do today.

Using the Bathroom

Women of the era wore a lot of skirts and bustles or hoops. So, how did they use the toilet? Well, their pantaloons or knickers were more like than pants than the underwear we know today. These loose-fitting undergarments had a split crotch so that women merely had to hover over the bowl instead of disrobing altogether (which would have taken too long).

While some well-to-do families had indoor plumbing by the 1880s, many did not, which meant trips to the outhouse or privy when nature called.

The first toilet paper squares were sold in the 1870s (with chemicals added to keep the bathroom from smelling too bad) and the toilet paper roll wasn’t invented until 1891. So what did people use to wipe themselves before that time? The answer might hurt a bit: old newspaper or corncobs seem to be what many people used, provided of course they had access to these things at all.

Taking a Bath

Showers were not yet en vogue and everyone bathed to keep clean. Poorer families would have boiled water on the stove then added it along with cool water to a wooden or metal tub, usually in the kitchen area, when it was time for a deep scrub down. However, most people bathed in rather smaller quantities of water in their bedrooms with a basin and pitcher of cool water. Hands, face, armpits, and crotch were the essential regions and it was not necessary to be submerged in order to maintain a modicum of cleanliness.

Nicer homes not only had proper porcelain bathtubs with both hot and cold taps nearby, some even had the luxury of all luxuries: a plumbed foot bath! These extravagances were like mini bathtubs for your feet.

Washing the Hair

Women’s hairstyles in the Victorian era were often elaborate and they were unlikely to have started the whole process of washing, drying, and styling until it was absolutely time for a good washing. At the time, women’s hair was considered her crowning glory and so the longer and healthier it was the better. It would would only be let down when she was alone with her husband, and so stayed in pins the rest of the time. To keep it healthy, women didn’t wash their hair nearly as often as we do today, taking this particular habit only on a weekly or monthly schedule.

Some books on hygiene and beauty towards the end of the Victorian era suggested that people with oily hair should wash their hair every two weeks or soand those with normal hair should wash it once per month. Still other sources recommended washing the hair and scalp one or two times per week. Before shampoo was common, people just used soap, which often left the scalp and hair very dry. Sometimes pure ammonia was used to clean the hair! Is it any wonder then that oily pomades were used so frequently during this era?

Personal Odor

In the days before lotions and deodorants were common, people had only a few options to cover the scent of B.O. or old clothes. Women with plenty of money could buy perfume or cologne, however it was cheaper to buy a scented powder. This was also quite good for absorbing wetness.

For men the most common scent was bay rum, a unique smell that most people today have never gotten to enjoy (though they do still make it). The spice-and-perfume-infused rum was invented for exactly the purpose of masking body odor by sailors in the 1500s.

For the people who couldn’t afford these luxuries, keeping clean was the only other option to avoiding a stale smell. Women used dress shields to protect their clothing from underarm sweat, but they also didn’t wash their outer garments ever. Only undergarments were scrubbed and dresses and coats were brushed clean- never submerged.

Oral Care

Dentistry was not very advanced back in the 1800s and most of the procedures a dentist could perform were simply extractions of rotten teeth. People did brush their teeth, sometimes just using salt on a finger and rubbing across the teeth, other times perhaps using a frayed twig.

The toothbrush as we know it today was invented in 1857, however it wasn’t until the nylon bristle toothbrushes of the 1930s came along that brushing one’s teeth became more widespread, particularly when GIs returning from Europe in the 1940s brought back the European habit of brushing everyday.

Play, Playgrounds and the Early Child Saving Movement

Sand Gardens

During the 1880’s Von schenckndorff, a German political leader placed piles of sand in the public parks of Berlin where children played (Sapora & Mitchell, 1948). An American visitor to Berlin, Dr. Marie Zakerzewska, recommended these playgrounds to the chairman of the Massachusetts Emergency and Hygiene Association in 1886, and piles of sand were placed in the play yards of the Children’s Mission on Boston’s Parmenter Street. These were called the first organized and supervised playgrounds in America and credited with creating the first serious play movement for young children in this country (Playground and Recreation Association of America, 1915).

By 1891, playgrounds were increasingly diversified and growing at a rapid rate. The original Charlesbank “outdoor gymnasium” site in Boston …was fenced, parked, equipped with swings, ladders, seesaws, a one-fifth mile running track, a sandgarten, and provided with wading rowing, and bathing facilities, all free to the public. Land and equipment were contributed by the park department, operated by private associations…The children’s and women’s divisions were entrusted to the Massachusetts Emergency and Hygiene Association.” (Rainwater, 1922, pp. 28-9). Boston initiatives to provide playgrounds for boys and girls of all ages, collaboration of public and philanthropic agencies, and integration of sand gardens, outdoor gymnasia, built equipment, and organized sports attracted at least nine other cities to consult with Boston leaders about playground development. By the turn of the century the stage was set for planners, designers, builders, and manufacturers of playgrounds and equipment to enter the fledging playground industry, and a “model playground era emerged.

Model Playgrounds

Rainwater (1922) identified stages of playground development with sand gardens as the first stage and “model playgrounds” as the second. The term “model playground” was first used in connection with Jane Addam’s (1809) famous Hull House playground in Chicago for both “big and little” children. Her playground was located on three-quarters of an acre, contained sand piles, swings, building blocks, a giant stride or may pole for younger children, benches, and handball and baseball courts reduced in size for older children. A policeman and an experienced student or teacher supervised the playground. (Rainwater, 1922, p. 56, Lee, 1902).

Model playgrounds around the beginning of the 20th century were similar in many ways to playgrounds planned and implemented in city park playgrounds decades later. The functions to be served were to ascertain what supervision was needed, and what apparatus and methods were most effective (Lee, 1902). Supervision of equipment and spaces were available for both boys and girls, playground equipment was similar to that now available, spaces were planned for organized games and sports, and they were funded by both public and private sources. The model playground work rapidly spread from city to city and the concept of “playground” expanded. As equipment manufacturers entered the scene, the sand pile and exercise apparatus were complemented with new types of swinging, climbing, and sliding apparatus. Spaces for games such as leap frog, follow the leader, and red rover and organized spaces for football and baseball were added. Schools, then and now, were often severely limited in availability of space, reducing opportunities for meeting the diverse play needs of children. When sufficient space was available nature facilities were sometimes available. In the University of Chicago settlement playground, manual training, nature excursions, and flower and vegetable gardens were added. The Civic league in Boston started 400 gardens, with paths, stretching around two sides of the playground for 400 yards. Some playgrounds had libraries and quiet games. The city council of Chicago in 1899 equipped five playgrounds, four in the immediate neighborhood of public schools, and recommended that a well-equipped playground be attached to every schoolhouse. “…I think…teachers of the regular school will begin to appear on the playground, and the playground teachers will be the regular athletic instructors for the schools…. (Lee, 1902: p.182).

During the 1880’s playgrounds for young children grew in popularity and observers noted that, “Even big boys hung around and looked wistful,” at the creative activities and play spaces of young children (Playground and Recreation Association of America, 1915:3). By 1917, playgrounds were appearing in small towns, and schools were setting aside periods of play for young children. Even the progressive industrial plants including southern cotton mills and northern industrial plants were setting aside playgrounds for employees and their children (Curtis, 1917). Thanks in large part to the work of civic and charitable organizations and the Playground Association of America the playground movement was alive but not altogether well across the United States.

Despite the growing interest in public play and playgrounds in municipal parks during the latter decades of the nineteenth century, a U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin claimed that most public school yards were little changed, hazardous, and unfit “for any advantage that has come to the school or the children.” (Curtis, 1913: p. 5). Curtis recommended that playgrounds be larger, provide play equipment, be supervised, and remain open after school, Saturdays, and during the summer. In 1910 the PAA Committee on Equipment published recommendations for supervised public playgrounds. Manufacturers were featuring wood, steel, and iron playground apparatus in their catalogs and were “settling” playground problems “with a scheme of material appliances.” (PAA, 1910). As motor vehicles in urban areas began to multiply, children were prohibited from playing in crowded streets and playgrounds were developed in vacant lots, closed streets, housing areas, and backyards to complement those in parks and schools (Stevens, 1926 Jenkins, 1934).


Whether condoms were used in ancient civilizations is debated by archaeologists and historians. [2] : 11 Societies in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome preferred small families and are known to have practiced a variety of birth control methods. [2] : 12,16–17,22 However, these societies viewed birth control as a woman's responsibility, and the only well-documented contraception methods were female-controlled devices (both possibly effective, such as pessaries, and ineffective, such as amulets). [2] : 17,23 The writings of these societies contain "veiled references" to male-controlled contraceptive methods that might have been condoms, but most historians interpret them as referring to coitus interruptus or anal intercourse. [2] : 21,24

The loincloths worn by Egyptian and Greek laborers were very sparse, sometimes consisting of little more than a covering for the glans of the penis. Records of these types of loincloths being worn by men in higher classes have made some historians speculate they were worn during intercourse [2] : 13–15,18–20 others, however, are doubtful of such interpretations. [3] Historians may also cite one legend of Minos, related by Antoninus Liberalis in 150 AD, as suggestive of condom use in ancient societies. This legend describes a curse that caused Minos' semen to contain serpents and scorpions. To protect his sexual partner from these animals, Minos used a goat's bladder as a female condom. [2] : 18 [3]

Contraceptives fell out of use in Europe after the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century the use of contraceptive pessaries, for example, is not documented again until the 15th century. If condoms were used during the Roman Empire, knowledge of them may have been lost during its decline. [2] : 33,42 In the writings of Muslims and Jews during the Middle Ages, there are some references to attempts at male-controlled contraception, including suggestions to cover the penis in tar or soak it in onion juice. Some of these writings might describe condom use, but they are "oblique", "veiled", and "vague". [2] : 38–41

Renaissance Edit

Prior to the 15th century, some use of glans condoms (devices covering only the head of the penis) is recorded in Asia. Glans condoms seem to have been used for birth control, and to have been known only by members of the upper classes. In China, glans condoms may have been made of oiled silk paper, or of lamb intestines. In Japan, they were made of tortoise shell or animal horn. [2] : 60–1

The first well-documented outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in 1494 among French troops. [4] The disease then swept across Europe. As Jared Diamond describes it, "when syphilis was first definitely recorded in Europe in 1495, its pustules often covered the body from the head to the knees, caused flesh to fall from people's faces, and led to death within a few months." (The disease is less frequently fatal today. [5] ) By 1505, the disease had spread to Asia, and within a few decades had "decimated large areas of China". [2] : 50,60

In 16th-century Italy, Gabriele Falloppio authored the earliest uncontested description of condom use. De Morbo Gallico ("The French Disease", referring to syphilis) was published in 1564, two years after Falloppio's death. In this tract, he recommended use of a device he claimed to have invented: linen sheaths soaked in a chemical solution and allowed to dry before use. The cloths he described were sized to cover the glans of the penis, and were held on with a ribbon. [2] : 51,54–5 [6] Fallopio claimed to have performed an experimental trial of the linen sheath on 1100 men, and reported that none of them had contracted the dreaded disease. [3]

After the publication of De Morbo Gallico, use of penis coverings to protect from disease is described in a wide variety of literature throughout Europe. The first indication these devices were used for birth control, rather than disease prevention, is the 1605 theological publication De iustitia et iure (On justice and law) by Catholic theologian Leonardus Lessius: he condemned them as immoral. [2] : 56 The first explicit description that un petit linge (a small cloth) was used to prevent pregnancy is from 1655: a French novel and play titled L'Escole des Filles (The Philosophy of Girls). In 1666, the English Birth Rate Commission attributed a recent downward fertility rate to use of "condons", the first documented use of that word (or any similar spelling). [2] : 66–8

In addition to linen, condoms during the Renaissance were made out of intestines and bladder. Cleaned and prepared intestine for use in glove making had been sold commercially since at least the 13th century. [2] : 44–5 Condoms made from bladder and dating to the 1640s were discovered in an English privy it is believed they were used by soldiers of King Charles I. [2] : 68–9 Dutch traders introduced condoms made from "fine leather" to Japan. Unlike the horn condoms used previously, these leather condoms covered the entire penis. [2] : 61

18th century Edit

Written references to condom use became much more common during the 18th century. Not all of the attention was positive: in 1708, John Campbell unsuccessfully asked Parliament to make the devices illegal. [2] : 73 Noted English physician Daniel Turner condemned the condom, publishing his arguments against their use in 1717. He disliked condoms because they did not offer full protection against syphilis. He also seems to have argued that belief in the protection condoms offered encouraged men to engage in sex with unsafe partners - but then, because of the loss of sensation caused by condoms, these same men often neglected to actually use the devices. The French medical professor Jean Astruc wrote his own anti-condom treatise in 1736, citing Turner as the authority in this area. Physicians later in the 18th century also spoke against the condom, but not on medical grounds: rather, they expressed the belief that contraception was immoral. [2] : 86–8,92

The condom market grew rapidly, however. 18th-century condoms were available in a variety of qualities and sizes, made from either linen treated with chemicals, or "skin" (bladder or intestine softened by treatment with sulphur and lye). [2] : 94–5 They were sold at pubs, barbershops, chemist shops, open-air markets, and at the theater throughout Europe and Russia. [2] : 90–2,97,104 The first recorded inspection of condom quality is found in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova (which cover his life until 1774): to test for holes, he would often blow them up before use. [2] : 108 [3]

Couples in colonial America relied on female-controlled methods of contraception, if they used contraceptives at all. The first known documents describing American condom use were written around 1800, two to three decades after the American Revolutionary War. [2] : 116–7 Also around 1800, linen condoms lost popularity in the market and their production ceased: they were more expensive and were viewed as less comfortable when compared to skin condoms. [2] : 94–5

Up to the 19th century, condoms were generally used only by the middle and upper classes. Perhaps more importantly, condoms were unaffordable for many: for a typical prostitute, a single condom might cost several months' pay. [2] : 119–21

Expanded marketing and introduction of rubber Edit

The early 19th century saw contraceptives promoted to the poorer classes for the first time: birth control advocates in England included Jeremy Bentham and Richard Carlile, and noted American advocates included Robert Dale Owen and Charles Knowlton. Writers on contraception tended to prefer other methods of birth control, citing both the expense of condoms and their unreliability (they were often riddled with holes, and often fell off or broke), but they discussed condoms as a good option for some, and as the only contraceptive that also protected from disease. [2] : 88,90,125,129–30 One group of British contraceptive advocates distributed condom literature in poor neighborhoods, with instructions on how to make the devices at home in the 1840s, similar tracts were distributed in both cities and rural areas through the United States. [2] : 126,136

From the 1820s through the 1870s, popular women and men lecturers traveled around America teaching about physiology and sexual matters. Many of them sold birth control devices, including condoms, after their lectures. They were condemned by many moralists and medical professionals, including America's first female doctor Elizabeth Blackwell. Blackwell accused the lecturers of spreading doctrines of "abortion and prostitution". [2] : 130–2 In the 1840s, advertisements for condoms began to appear in British newspapers, and in 1861 a condom advertisement appeared in the New York Times. [2] : 127,138

The discovery of the rubber vulcanization process is disputed. Some contest that it was invented by Charles Goodyear in America 1839, and patented in 1844. [7] Other accounts attribute it to Thomas Hancock in Britain in 1843. [8] The first rubber condom was produced in 1855, [9] and by the late 1850s several major rubber companies were mass-producing, among other items, rubber condoms. A main advantage of rubber condoms was their reusability, making them a more economical choice in the long term. Compared to the 19th-century rubber condoms, however, skin condoms were initially cheaper and offered better sensitivity. For these reasons, skin condoms remained more popular than the rubber variety. However, by the end of the 19th century "rubber" had become a euphemism for condoms in countries around the world. [2] : 134–5,157,219 For many decades, rubber condoms were manufactured by wrapping strips of raw rubber around penis-shaped molds, then dipping the wrapped molds in a chemical solution to cure the rubber. [2] : 148 The earliest rubber condoms covered only the glans of the penis a doctor had to measure each man and order the correct size. Even with the medical fittings, however, glans condoms tended to fall off during use. Rubber manufacturers quickly discovered they could sell more devices by manufacturing full-length one-size-fits-all condoms to be sold in pharmacies. [2] : 135

Increased popularity despite legal impediments Edit

Distribution of condoms in the United States was limited by passage of the Comstock laws, which included a federal act banning the mailing of contraceptive information (passed in 1873) as well as State laws that banned the manufacture and sale of condoms in thirty states. [2] : 144,193 In Ireland the 1889 Indecent Advertisements Act made it illegal to advertise condoms, although their manufacture and sale remained legal. [2] : 163–4,168 Contraceptives were illegal in 19th-century Italy and Germany, but condoms were allowed for disease prevention. [2] : 169–70 In Great Britain it was forbidden to sell condoms as prophylactics under the 1917 VD act, so they were marketed as contraceptives rather than as prophylactics, as they were in America. [8] Despite legal obstacles, condoms continued to be readily available in both Europe and America, widely advertised under euphemisms such as male shield and rubber good. [2] : 146–7 In late-19th-century England, condoms were known as "a little something for the weekend". [2] : 165 The phrase was commonly used in barbershops, which were a key retailer of condoms, in twentieth century Britain. [8] [10] Only in the Republic of Ireland were condoms effectively outlawed. In Ireland their sale and manufacture remained illegal until the 1970s. [2] : 171

Opposition to condoms did not only come from moralists: by the late 19th century many feminists expressed distrust of the condom as a contraceptive, as its use was controlled and decided upon by men alone. They advocated instead for methods which were controlled by women, such as diaphragms and spermicidal douches. [2] : 152–3 Despite social and legal opposition, at the end of the 19th century the condom was the Western world's most popular birth control method. Two surveys conducted in New York in 1890 and 1900 found that 45% of the women surveyed were using condoms to prevent pregnancy. [2] : 173–4 A survey in Boston just prior to World War I concluded that three million condoms were sold in that city every year. [2] : 192–3

1870s England saw the founding of the first major condom manufacturing company, E. Lambert and Son of Dalston. [2] : 165 In 1882, German immigrant Julius Schmidt founded one of the largest and longest-lasting condom businesses, Julius Schmid, Inc. (he dropped the 't' from his name in an effort to appear less Jewish). This New York business initially manufactured only skin condoms (in 1890 he was arrested by Anthony Comstock for having almost seven hundred of the devices in his house). [2] : 154–6 In 1912, a German named Julius Fromm developed a new, improved manufacturing technique for condoms: dipping glass molds into a raw rubber solution. [9] Called cement dipping, this method required adding gasoline or benzene to the rubber to make it liquid. [2] : 200 In America, Schmid was the first company to use the new technique. Using the new dipping method, French condom manufacturers were the first to add textures to condoms. [2] : 169–70 Fromm was the first company to sell a branded line of condoms, Fromm's Act, which remains popular in Germany today. [9] The Fromms was taken over by the Nazis during the war, and the family fled to Great Britain but could not compete against the powerful London Rubber Company. [8] The condom lines manufactured by Schmid, Sheiks and Ramses, were sold through the late 1990s. [2] : 154–6 Youngs Rubber Company, founded by Merle Youngs in late-19th-century America, introduced Trojans. [2] : 191

Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, American rates of sexually transmitted diseases skyrocketed. Causes cited by historians include effects of the American Civil War, and the ignorance of prevention methods promoted by the Comstock laws. [2] : 137–8,159 To fight the growing epidemic, sexual education classes were introduced to public schools for the first time, teaching about venereal diseases and how they were transmitted. They generally taught that abstinence was the only way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. [2] : 179–80 The medical community and moral watchdogs considered STDs to be punishment for sexual misbehavior. The stigma on victims of these diseases was so great that many hospitals refused to treat people who had syphilis. [2] : 176

World War I to the 1920s Edit

The German military was the first to promote sex use among its soldiers, beginning in the second half of the 19th century. [2] : 169,181 Early-20th-century experiments by the American military concluded that providing condoms to soldiers significantly lowered rates of sexually transmitted diseases. [2] : 180–3 During World War I, the United States and (at the beginning of the war only) Britain were the only countries with soldiers in Europe who did not provide condoms and promote their use, [2] : 187–90 although some condoms were provided as an experiment by the British Navy. [8] By the end of the war, the American military had diagnosed almost 400,000 cases of syphilis and gonorrhea, a historic high. [2] : 191

From just before 1900 to the beginning of World War I, almost all condoms used in Europe were imported from Germany. Germany not only exported condoms to other European countries, but was a major supplier to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. During the war, the American companies Schmid and Youngs became the main suppliers of condoms to the European Allies. [2] : 156,170,191 By the early 1920s, however, most of Europe's condoms were once again made in Germany. [2] : 199

In 1918, just before the end of the war, an American court overturned a conviction against Margaret Sanger. In this case, the judge ruled that condoms could be legally advertised and sold for the prevention of disease. [11] [ dubious – discuss ] There were still a few state laws against buying and selling contraceptives, and advertising condoms as birth control devices remained illegal in over thirty states. [2] : 266 But condoms began to be publicly, legally sold to Americans for the first time in forty-five years. [2] : 192–3 Through the 1920s, catchy names and slick packaging became an increasingly important marketing technique for many consumer items, including condoms and cigarettes. [2] : 197 Quality testing became more common, involving filling each condom with air followed by one of several methods intended to detect loss of pressure. Several American companies sold their rejects under cheaper brand names rather than discarding them. [2] : 204,206,221–2 Consumers were advised to perform similar tests themselves before use, although few actually did so. [2] : 223 Worldwide, condom sales doubled in the 1920s. [2] : 210

Still, there were many prominent opponents of condoms. Marie Stopes objected to the use of condoms ostensibly for medical reasons. [8] Founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud opposed all methods of birth control on the grounds that their failure rates were too high. [ dubious – discuss ] Freud was especially opposed to the condom because it cut down on sexual pleasure. [ dubious – discuss ] . Some feminists continued to oppose male-controlled contraceptives such as condoms. Many moralists and medical professionals opposed all methods of contraception. In 1920 the Church of England's Lambeth Conference condemned all "unnatural means of conception avoidance." London's Bishop Arthur Winnington-Ingram complained of the number of condoms discarded in alleyways and parks, especially after weekends and holidays. [2] : 211–2

In the U.S., condom advertising was legally restricted to their use as disease preventatives. They could be openly marketed as birth control devices in Britain, but purchasing condoms in Britain was socially awkward compared to the U.S. They were generally requested with the euphemism "a little something for the weekend." Boots, the largest pharmacy chain in Britain, stopped selling condoms altogether in the 1920s, a policy that was not reversed until the 1960s. [2] : 208–10 In post-World War I France, the government was concerned about falling birth rates. In response, it outlawed all contraceptives, including condoms. Contraception was also illegal in Spain. European militaries continued to provide condoms to their members for disease protection, even in countries where they were illegal for the general population. [2] : 213–4

Invention of latex and manufacturing automation Edit

Latex, rubber suspended in water, was invented in 1920. Youngs Rubber Company was the first to manufacture a latex condom, an improved version of their Trojan brand. Latex condoms required less labor to produce than cement-dipped rubber condoms, which had to be smoothed by rubbing and trimming. Because it used water to suspend the rubber instead of gasoline and benzene, it eliminated the fire hazard previously associated with all condom factories. Latex condoms also performed better for the consumer: they were stronger and thinner than rubber condoms, and had a shelf life of five years (compared to three months for rubber). Europe's first latex condom was an export from Youngs Rubber Company in 1929. In 1932 the London Rubber Company, which had previously served as a wholesaler for German-manufactured condoms, became Europe's first manufacturer of latex condoms, the Durex. [2] : 199–200 The Durex plant was designed and installed by Lucian Landau, a Polish rubber technology student living in London. [8] [10] [12]

Until the twenties, all condoms were individually hand-dipped by semiskilled workers. Throughout the decade of the 1920s, advances in automation of condom assembly line were made. Fred Killian patented the first fully automated line in 1930 and installed it in his manufacturing plant in Akron, Ohio. Killian charged $20,000 for his conveyor system - as much as $2 million in today's dollars. Automated lines dramatically lowered the price of condoms. Major condom manufacturers bought or leased conveyor systems, and small manufacturers were driven out of business. [2] : 201–3 The skin condom, now significantly more expensive than the latex variety, became restricted to a niche high-end market. [2] : 220 In Britain, the London Rubber Company's fully automated plant was designed in-house by Lucian Landau [12] and the first lines were installed from 1950 onward. [8] [10]

Great Depression Edit

In 1927, senior medical officers in the American military began promoting condom distribution and educational programs to members of the army and navy. By 1931, condoms were standard issue to all members of the U.S. military. [2] : 213–4 This coincided with a steep decline in U.S. military cases of sexually transmitted disease. [2] : 217–9 The U.S. military was not the only large organization that changed its moral stance on condoms: in 1930 the Anglican Church's Lambeth Conference sanctioned the use of birth control by married couples. In 1931 the Federal Council of Churches in the U.S. issued a similar statement. [2] : 227

The Roman Catholic Church responded by issuing the encyclical Casti connubii affirming its opposition to all contraceptives, a stance it has never reversed. Semen analysis was first performed in the 1930s. Samples were typically collected by masturbation, another action opposed by the Catholic Church. In 1930s Spain, the first use of collection condoms was documented holes put in the condom allowed the user to collect a sample without violating the prohibitions on contraception and masturbation. [2] : 228–9

In 1932, Margaret Sanger arranged for a shipment of diaphragms to be mailed from Japan to a sympathetic doctor in New York City. When U.S. customs confiscated the package as illegal contraceptive devices, Sanger helped file a lawsuit. In 1936, a federal appeals court ruled in United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries that the federal government could not interfere with doctors providing contraception to their patients. [11] In 1938, over three hundred birth control clinics opened in America, supplying reproductive care (including condoms) to poor women all over the country. [2] : 216,226 Programs led by U.S. Surgeon General Thoman Parran included heavy promotion of condoms. These programs are credited with a steep drop in the U.S. STD rate by 1940. [2] : 234

Two of the few places where condoms became more restricted during this period were Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Because of government concern about low birth rates, contraceptives were made illegal in Italy in the late 1920s. Although limited and highly controlled sales as disease preventatives were still allowed, there was a brisk black market trade in condoms as birth control. [2] : 254–5 In Germany, laws passed in 1933 mandated that condoms could only be sold in plain brown wrappers, and only at pharmacies. Despite these restrictions, when World War II began Germans were using 72 million condoms every year. [2] : 252 The elimination of moral and legal barriers, and the introduction of condom programs by the U.S. government helped condom sales. However, these factors alone are not considered to explain the Great Depression's booming condom industry. In the U.S. alone, more than 1.5 million condoms were used every day during the Depression, at a cost of over $33 million per year (not adjusted for inflation). One historian explains these statistics this way: "Condoms were cheaper than children." During the Depression condom lines by Schmid gained in popularity: that company still used the cement-dipping method of manufacture. Unlike the latex variety, these condoms could be safely used with oil-based lubricants. And while less comfortable, older-style rubber condoms could be reused and so were more economical, a valued feature in hard times. [2] : 217–9

More attention was brought to quality issues in the 1930s. In 1935, a biochemist tested 2000 condoms by filling each one with air and then water: he found that 60% of them leaked. The condom industry estimated that only 25% of condoms were tested for quality before packaging. The media attention led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to classify condoms as a drug in 1937 and mandate that every condom be tested before packaging. Youngs Rubber Company was the first to institute quality testing of every condom they made, installing automatic testing equipment designed by Arthur Youngs (the owner's brother) in 1938. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act authorized the FDA to seize defective products the first month the Act took effect in 1940, the FDA seized 864,000 condoms. While these actions improved the quality of condoms in the United States, American condom manufacturers continued to export their rejects for sale in foreign markets. [2] : 223–5

World War II to 1980 Edit

During World War II condoms were not only distributed to male U.S. military members, but enlisted men were also subject to significant contraception propaganda in the form of films, posters, and lectures. [2] : 236–8,259 A number of slogans were coined by the military, with one film exhorting "Don't forget — put it on before you put it in." [13] African-American soldiers, who served in segregated units, were exposed to less of the condom promotion programs, had lower rates of condom usage, and much higher rates of STDs. [2] : 246 America's female military units, the WACs and WAACs, were still engaged with abstinence programs. [2] : 240 European and Asian militaries on both sides of the conflict also provided condoms to their troops throughout the war, even Germany which outlawed all civilian use of condoms in 1941. [2] : 252–4,257–8 Despite the rubber shortages that occurred during this period, condom manufacturing was never restricted. [2] : 231–3 In part because condoms were readily available, soldiers found a number of non-sexual uses for the devices, many of which continue to be utilized to this day.

Post-war American troops in Germany continued to receive condoms and materials promoting their use. Nevertheless, rates of STDs in this population began to rise, reaching the highest levels since World War I. One explanation is that the success of newer penicillin treatments led soldiers to take syphilis and gonorrhea much less seriously. A similar casual attitude toward STDs appeared in the general American population one historian states that condoms "were almost obsolete as prophylaxis by 1960". [2] : 234,259–61 By 1947, the U.S. military was again promoting abstinence as the only method of disease control for its members, a policy that continued through the Vietnam War. [2] : 261–2,281–4

But condom sales continued to grow. From 1955 to 1965, 42% of Americans of reproductive age relied on condoms for birth control. In Britain from 1950 to 1960, 60% of married couples used condoms. For the more economical-minded, cement-dipped condoms continued to be available long after the war. In 1957, Durex introduced the world's first lubricated condom. [8] Beginning in the 1960s, the Japanese used more condoms per capita than any other nation in the world. The birth control pill became the world's most popular method of birth control in the years after its 1960 debut, but condoms remained a strong second. A survey of British women between 1966 and 1970 found that the condom was the most popular birth control method with single women. New manufacturers appeared in the Soviet Union, which had never restricted condom sales. The U.S. Agency for International Development pushed condom use in developing countries to help solve the "world population crises": by 1970 hundreds of millions of condoms were being used each year in India alone. [2] : 267–9,272–5

In the 1960s and 1970s quality regulations tightened, [2] : 267,285 and legal barriers to condom use were removed. In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut struck down one of the remaining Comstock laws, the bans of contraception in Connecticut and Massachusetts. France repealed its anti-birth control laws in 1967. Similar laws in Italy were declared unconstitutional in 1971. Captain Beate Uhse in Germany founded a birth control business, and fought a series of legal battles continue her sales. [2] : 276–9 In Ireland, legal condom sales (only to people over 18, and only in clinics and pharmacies) were allowed for the first time in 1978. (All restrictions on Irish condom sales were lifted in 1993.) [2] : 329–30

Advertising was one area that continued to have legal restrictions. In the late 1950s, the American National Association of Broadcasters banned condom advertisements from national television. This policy remained in place until 1979, when the U.S. Justice department had it overturned in court. [2] : 273–4,285 In the U.S., advertisements for condoms were mostly limited to men's magazines such as Penthouse. [2] : 285–6 The first television ad, on the California station KNTV, aired in 1975: it was quickly pulled after it attracted national attention. [2] : 274 And in over 30 states, advertising condoms as birth control devices was still illegal. [2] : 266

After the discovery of AIDS Edit

The first New York Times story on acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was published on July 3, 1981. [2] : 294 In 1982 it was first suggested that the disease was sexually transmitted. [14] In response to these findings, and to fight the spread of AIDS, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop supported condom promotion programs. However, President Ronald Reagan preferred an approach of concentrating only on abstinence programs. Some opponents of condom programs stated that AIDS was a disease of homosexuals and illicit drug users, who were just getting what they deserved. In 1990, North Carolina senator Jesse Helms argued that the best way to fight AIDS would be to enforce state sodomy laws. [2] : 296–7

Nevertheless, major advertising campaigns were put in print media, promoting condoms as a way to protect against AIDS. [2] : 299,301 Youngs Rubber mailed educational pamphlets to American households, although the postal service forced them to go to court to do so, citing a section of Title 39 that "prohibits the mailing of unsolicited advertisements for contraceptives." In 1983 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the postal service's actions violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment. [2] : 303 Beginning in 1985 through 1987, national condom promotion campaigns occurred in U.S. and Europe. [2] : 299,301,306–7,312–8 Over the 10 years of the Swiss campaign, Swiss condom use increased by 80%. [2] : 314–7 The year after the British campaign began, condom sales in the UK increased by 20%. [2] : 309 In 1988 Britain, condoms were the most popular birth control choice for married couples, for the first time since the introduction of the pill. [2] : 311 The first condom commercial on U.S. television aired during an episode of Herman's Head on November 17, 1991. [15] In the U.S. in the 1990s, condoms ranked third in popularity among married couples, and were a strong second among single women. [2] : 305

Condoms began to be sold in a wider variety of retail outlets, including in supermarkets and in discount department stores such as Wal-Mart. [2] : 305 In this environment of more open sales, the British euphemism of "a little something for the weekend" fell out of use. [2] : 322 In June 1991 America's first condom store, Condomania, opened on Bleecker Street in New York City. Condomania was the first store of its kind in North America dedicated to the sale and promotion of condoms in an upbeat, upscale and fun atmosphere. Condomania was also one of the first retailers to offer condoms online when it launched its website in December 1995.

Condom sales increased every year until 1994, when media attention to the AIDS pandemic began to decline. In response, manufacturers have changed the tone of their advertisements from scary to humorous. [2] : 303–4 New developments continue to occur in the condom market, with the first polyurethane condom—branded Avanti and produced by the manufacturer of Durex—introduced in the 1990s. [2] : 324–5 Durex was also the first condom brand to have a website, launched in 1997. [2] : 319 Worldwide condom use is expected to continue to grow: one study predicted that developing nations would need 18.6 billion condoms in 2015. [2] : 342

Etymological theories for the word "condom" abound. By the early 18th century, the invention and naming of the condom was attributed to an associate of England's King Charles II, and this explanation persisted for several centuries. However, the "Dr. Condom" or "Earl of Condom" described in these stories has never been proved to exist, and condoms had been used for over one hundred years before King Charles II ascended to the throne. [2] : 54,68

A variety of Latin etymologies have been proposed, including condon (receptacle), [13] condamina (house), [16] and cumdum (scabbard or case). [2] : 70–1 It has also been speculated to be from the Italian word guantone, derived from guanto, meaning glove. [17] William E. Kruck wrote an article in 1981 concluding that, "As for the word 'condom', I need state only that its origin remains completely unknown, and there ends this search for an etymology." [18] Modern dictionaries may also list the etymology as "unknown". [19]

Other terms are also commonly used to describe condoms. In North America condoms are also commonly known as prophylactics, or rubbers. In Britain they may be called French letters. [20] Additionally, condoms may be referred to using the manufacturer's name. The insult term scumbag was originally a slang word for condom. [21]

One analyst described the size of the condom market as something that "boggles the mind". Numerous small manufacturers, nonprofit groups, and government-run manufacturing plants exist around the world. [2] : 322,328 Within the condom market, there are several major contributors, among them both for-profit businesses and philanthropic organizations.

In 1882, German immigrant Julius Schmidt founded one of the largest and longest-lasting condom businesses, Julius Schmid, Inc., based in New York City. The condom lines manufactured by Schmid included Sheiks and Ramses. [2] : 154–6 In 1932, the London Rubber Company (which had previously been a wholesale business importing German condoms) began to produce latex condoms, under the Durex brand. [2] : 199,201,218 In 1962 Schmid was purchased by London Rubber. In 1987, London Rubber began acquiring other condom manufacturers, and within a few years became an important international company. In the late 1990s, London Rubber (by then London International Limited) merged all the Schmid brands into its European brand, Durex. [2] : 324–6 Soon after, London International was purchased by Seton Scholl Healthcare (manufacturer of Dr. Scholl's footcare products), forming Seton Scholl Limited. [2] : 327

Youngs Rubber Company, founded by Merle Youngs in late-19th-century America, introduced the Trojan line of condoms. [2] : 191 In 1985, Youngs Rubber Company was sold to Carter-Wallace. The Trojan name switched hands yet again in 2000 when Carter-Wallace was sold to Church and Dwight. [2] : 323–4

The Australian division of Dunlop Rubber began manufacturing condoms in the 1890s. In 1905, Dunlop sold its condom-making equipment to one of its employees, Eric Ansell, who founded Ansell Rubber. In 1969, Ansell was sold back to Dunlop. [2] : 327 In 1987, English business magnate Richard Branson contracted with Ansell to help in a campaign against HIV and AIDS. Ansell agreed to manufacture the Mates brand of condom, to be sold at little or no profit in order to encourage condom use. Branson soon sold the Mates brand to Ansell, with royalty payments made annually to the charity Virgin Unite. [2] : 309,311 In addition to its Mates brand, Ansell currently manufactures Lifestyles and Lifesan for the U.S. market. [2] : 333

In 1934 the Kokusia Rubber Company was founded in Japan. It is now known as the Okamoto Rubber Manufacturing Company. [2] : 257

In 1970 Tim Black and Philip Harvey founded Population Planning Associates (now known as Adam & Eve). Population Planning Associates was a mail-order business that marketed condoms to American college students, despite U.S. laws against sending contraceptives through the mail. Black and Harvey used the profits from their company to start a non-profit organization Population Services International. By 1975, PSI was marketing condoms in Kenya and Bangladesh, [2] : 286–7,337–9 and today operates programs in over sixty countries. [22] Harvey left his position as PSI's director in the late 1970s, [23] but in the late 1980s again founded a nonprofit company, DKT International. [2] : 286–7,337–9 Named after D.K. Tyagi (a leader of family planning programs in India), [24] DKT International annually sells millions of condoms at discounted rates in developing countries around the world. By selling the condoms instead of giving them away, DKT intends to make its customers invested in using the devices. One of DKT's more notable programs is its work in Ethiopia, where soldiers are required to carry a condom every time they leave base. The rate of HIV infection in the Ethiopian military, about 5%, is believed to be the lowest among African militaries. [2] : 286–7,337–9

In 1987, Tufts University students Davin Wedel and Adam Glickman started Global Protection Corp. in response to C. Everett Koop's statement that "a condoms can save your life." Since that time, Global Protection Corp. has become known for its innovative approach to condom marketing and its support of more than 3500 non-profit organizations worldwide. The company has numerous patents and trademarks to its name, including the only FDA-approved glow-in-the-dark condom, the Pleasure Plus condom and the original condom keychain. In 2005 the company introduced its newest product, One Condoms. One represents a complete reinvention of retail condom brands, combining sleek metal packaging, innovative condom wrappers and innovative marketing programs. One is also the first condom brand to donate 5% of sales to the development of sexual health outreach and educational programs. In South Africa, some manufacturers have considered introducing an extra-large variety of condoms after several complaints from South African men claiming the condoms were too small and causing discomfort. [25]

A Brief Look at Women’s Underwear in the 19th Century

And yes, I realize that there are about a thousand reasons why that blog post title will get me in trouble.

So over the weekend I was working on final revisions of my novella, Sarah Sunshine. Sarah Sunshine is book 2.5 in the Montana Romance series, and as such it takes place in the fictitious frontier town of Cold Springs, Montana in the year 1896. Only by 1896 Montana wasn’t really the frontier anymore. It had transportation and industry like any other spot out west. Electricity and running water were becoming the rule instead of the exception. Everything was modernizing at lightning-fast rates.

Although that’s not exactly true either. Major changes in women’s underwear—changes that made it resemble the stuff we wear now—didn’t actually start taking place until late in the 1910s, and really more like the 1920s. “Victorian Secret” underwear models wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as sexy as Heidi Klum prancing around in a diamond-studded bra.

No, throughout the 19th century, as in many centuries before, women’s underwear served an entirely different purpose. Up top, it was designed to support and create a feminine shape. That’s where our good old friend the corset comes from. I believe I’ve talked about this before—as have many other historical fashion bloggers—but the corset wasn’t an insanely tight-laced torture contraption that too many people think it was. Corsets were practical garments that, if made correctly, kept everything where it needed to be.

So what did women wear with those corsets? A variety of things. One was the chemise. A chemise is, to my mind, an all-purpose undergarment. Usually made of light cotton or linen, it was the utilitarian ancestor of those camisole tops that are still popular as outerwear today. The chemise was worn next to the skin, which was convenient since it was easily washable when many of the dresses of the day were not.

A corset cover would be worn over top of the corset in order to protect the clothes from the rigid construction of the corset or to smooth out the lines. I tend to get corset covers confused with chemises. They weren’t drastically different in structure, but they did each perform a specific use. So yes, sometimes there would be a lot of layers for an intrepid hero to sort through before getting to the prize! I’m kind of really happy about modern bras now, as uncomfortable as even they can be from time to time.

Ah, but what about the bottoms? This is where my research led me over the weekend. This is also where 19th century underwear differs the most from modern underwear. Nowadays we like to keep things safe and protected, especially since we wear a lot of short skirts and things that could prove embarrassing if we were to have said skirts blow up in a strong wing, for example. Back in the 19th century and before, they didn’t have the same problems.

The ever-popular open-crotch drawers, circa 1874

The problems they did have was how to conveniently use the restroom without taking off all of those layers of chemises and corsets and covers. There were garter belts and stocking ties to consider in these days too. Simply put, there was no way that you were going to be able to pull any panties down while wearing those clothes.

The solution was easy. No panties. Yep, for a large part of history, women didn’t wear underwear (as we know it) at all. What they did wear were loose garments with no crotches that could be easily whisked aside when nature called. It was functionality over allure in those days. Especially since the odds of your skirt accidentally ending up over your head were small.

Of course, the romance writer in me would like to point out that it would have been much, MUCH easier for a woman to have a quickie in a back corner somewhere without ever having to undress. Granted, in most decades of the 19th century the sheer volume of fabric making up the skirts would have been enough to keep a man from getting close enough to do what he needed to do. … I’m kidding. I’m sure where there was a will, there was a way.

All in all, while I love and adore the fashion of the 19th century, especially the ‘80s and ‘90s, and while I would gladly dress in those styles every day of my life right now, I draw the line at 19th century underwear. The tops were too complicated and I’m not sure how secure I would fee on the bottom. But you never know until you try.

Oh, and just for curiosity’s sake, when I was searching for public domain images to illustrate these points on Wikicommons, I came across this intriguing illumination of a woman in her underwear from 1394. Not all that different from many years later, eh?


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Life in Italy during the 19th Century

The 19 th century was a time of great change for Italy, as the modern world emerged, so it’s natural to wonder how was life in Italy during the 19th century. The most prominent events of this time revolve around the rise of the Italian unification movement known as the Risorgimento. It was the social and political process that eventually succeeded in the unification of Italy involving the many city-states that have been united in the modern country of Italy.

The exact dates of the beginning and end of the Risorgimento are unclear, but scholars believe it began at the end of the Napoleonic era, with the Congress of Vienna, in 1815. The process of the unification of Italy ended with the FrancoPrussian War in 1871.

History of Italy in the 19 th Century

The Beginnings of Unification of Italy

The intellectual and social changes that were questioning traditional values and beliefs started in the late 18th century in Italy. The liberal ideas coming from other countries like Britain and France were spreading rapidly through the Italian peninsula. Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of Italy with his most notorious concubine Rosina were also supporting this movement.

The First War for the Italian Independence began with protests in Lombardy and revolts in Sicily. This resulted in four Italian republics creating constitutions in 1848. Pope Pius IX fled Rome and the Roman Republic was then proclaimed upon the arrival of Garibaldi. When Mazzini arrived in Rome, in March 1849, he was appointed Chief Minister of the new Republic.

In the meantime, King Charles Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia joined the war and attempted to drive the Austrians out of the country. It looked like the Italian unification timeline was near. Austrians however eventually managed to successfully defeat Charles Albert in the battle of Novara in 1849, slowing the country’s run towards independence. Victor Emmanuele II however managed to win the battles so he then became the first king after the unification of Italy.

Camillo Benso di Cavour

Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was to become the prime minister of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1852. It was only because of the count’s leadership and policies that the unification of Italy became possible!

Cavour persuaded Napoleon III of France to plan a secret war against Austria. Soon, a war on Italian soil against Austria began. The French troops helped Piedmont defeat Austria in two important battles at Solferino and Magenta. Austria was soon forced to surrender the region of Lombardy, along with the city of Milan, to Napoleon III. In 1859, Napoleon III then handed over the region of Lombardy to King Victor Emmanuel II.

Two years later, thanks to the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the peninsula was unified under the Savoy crown. Turin became the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy Rome was not to become part of unified Italy until 1870. As you can see, the Italian unification timeline was quite long with many different playgrounds.

Italian society in the 19 th century

The Italians of the Risorgimento

In many ways, the roots of several well-known aspects of Italian culture find their origin in the 19th century. The land, the food, and the people were all shaped by warfare, struggle, and the desire for independence. Most of the men who fought for freedom during this period were peasants, seeking a chance for something better. Northern Italy, mostly under the direct influence of Austria and the House of Savoy saw the emergence of industry however, life was hard for most Italians, who remained poor.

Southern Italy fared worse than the North: neglect and the oppression of wealthy European landlords who exploited local peasants to tend their lands created the basis for the later Mafia organizations.

However, it is often through strife that humans are their most creative. This is most evident in the foods of Italy.

Food in Italy

The struggles of the 19 th century saw the introduction of many of our favorite Italian foods. Greedy landowners of Northern Italy, decided long ago to feed their workers with cornmeal, which by now was to the North what pasta was to the South. Poverty made tomatoes, once thought poisonous, a staple of Southern Italian cooking. Pasta, already stable part of a typical southern kitchen, would never be the same.

In all areas of the country various wild plants, considered weeds by many, were incorporated into foods in times of want. However, as the 19 th century went on, these traditional foods of the poor, became common among all classes.

Some, like the Pizza Margherita, became symbols of the newly created Kingdom of Italy. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi, at age 71, completed the first Italian food cookbook.

Life in Italy during the 19th century: Italian Art

Italian music in the 19 th century

Gioacchino Rossini, Italian musician, dies in Paris (1868)

The 19 th century was the time of romantic opera, first initiated by the works of Gioacchino Rossini. However Italian music of the time of the Risorgimento was dominated by Giuseppe Verdi, one of the most influential opera composers of all times. Although modern scholarship has reduced his actual role in the movement of the unification of Italy, for all intents and purposes, the style of Verdi’s works lends itself to being the soundtrack to Risorgimento.

Toward the end of the 1800 ‘popular’ Italian music start appearing – The worldwide known ‘O Sole mio‘ was written in 1898.

Pictures of Life in Italy in the 19th century

enice between 1890 and 1900. Source: Library of Congress Washing in Naples, end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress Turin at the end of the 18th Century. Source: Library of Congress Piazza dell’Annunziata in Genoa. Source: Library of the Congress Florence at the end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress Holiday by Lake Garda at the end of the 19th Century. Source: Library of Congress

Brooklyn Bathrooms

The Brooklyn Eagle ran a large real estate section touting all of the newest neighborhoods and homes that were in development, or for sale, on October 12, 1897. Part of the sales pitch for any property, be it a row house, flats building or stand-alone suburban house, was to talk up the newest in bathroom facilities.

The description of a new row of houses on Bergen Street, between Brooklyn and Kingston avenues, is a good example. Here’s what they said regarding the bathrooms: “The second floor, reached by a broad staircase of hard wood, consists of elegant alcove apartments, and the dressing rooms are provided with marble trimmed cabinet lavatories, spacious wardrobes and large beveled plate mirrors. The bathrooms are wainscoted in marble tile, and the appointments comprise a full sized bath tub, marble lavatory, etc.”

Another ad boasts, “The plumbing is of the most modern, with handsome tile bathrooms.” Yet another ad lists that property’s attributes with “…all lead pipe and exposed nickel plumbing, hard wood trim, tiled bath, extra servant’s bath, dumb waiter, refrigerator, electric lighting with burglar alarm with clock attachment…” The bathroom had arrived.

Full indoor plumbing allowed for not only the bathroom, but the dressing rooms that were built into every single-family row house from the late 1870s on. Most single-family row houses had at least two main bedrooms with two back-to-back dressing rooms between them, accessible through a pocket door between them.

Description of the bathrooma and dressing rooms of houses on Bergen Street. Image via The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

These dressing rooms, as described in the above ad, usually had a built-in sink, often marble clad, around a woodwork base, surrounded by mirrors. Around the sink would be cabinets, wardrobes and often built-in chests of drawers.

Depending on the house, some of these dressing rooms were quite large and spacious, others more utilitarian and sparse. But they all had hot and cold running water. These dressing rooms were invaluable for washing up, as there was only one bathroom in an entire house.

The bathroom itself was a wonder for Victorian eyes. Because it was all so new and impressive, it was important that the workings were seen, hence the copy, “exposed nickel plumbing,” in virtually every ad in the paper.

Unlike today, where we like to hide the workings of everything, from plumbing to electrical cords, the Victorians exposed their pipes. It also made it easier to repair, in case of imperfections in the systems. And there would potentially be a lot to repair.

The upper-class Victorian mindset insisted that there was a tool or an object for every function. This was not because of any kind of expediency, it was because they had money to burn, and companies manufacturing goods figured out that if they made it, it would sell.

And they were right. Take silverware, for instance. Where the Colonial household had a fork, knife and spoon for daily service, the Gilded Age home had at least four or five of each needed for a full course meal. There were dinner forks, luncheon forks, dessert forks, salad forks, fish forks, asparagus forks, pickle forks, olive forks, and on and on, for each utensil.

That doesn’t even include serving utensils, which were even more complicated. One was expected to know which utensil was for what dish, and how and when to use it, and servants were required to know as well, in order to set the table. Woe betides a gauche homeowner who got it wrong.

The well-appointed bathroom was operating from a similar mindset. Manufacturers put out a huge amount of products, each designed to be used for specific purposes. The average brownstone bathroom did not have all of this stuff, but as houses grew more grand, you can often find bathrooms from the late 1880s and after, with a multitude of appliances, in both mansions and upper-class speculative houses.

A 1911 bathroom. Illustration via The New York Public Library

In addition to a sink, toilet and tub, the deluxe bathroom of the era could have a bidet, a foot bath, or a fancy ribbed shower attachment on the bathtub, or that same ribbed shower apparatus in the separate shower. The bathtubs came in several shapes and sizes, from a child size 3-foot-long tub, to the classic 5-foot-long size, and a highly desirable 6-foot-long model. Plumbing for these tubs included front mounted fixtures, coming out of holes in the top of the tub, as well as front or side mounted fixtures that came out of the floor and hung over the tub.

Earlier sinks were usually flat marble tops with a drop-in porcelain sink, in a multitude of sizes. The sink could be plain, or often was decorated with a painted pattern, often floral, baked into the porcelain, just like dishes. Many of these still exist, and can be quite pretty.

Bathroom catalog, from 1912-15. Illustration: 1912 bungalow.com

The marble tops often had marble back splashes, these also ranging from a few inches high to a huge decorative element. The sinks were wall mounted, with ornate brackets and nickel stands, allowing all of the plumbing to be displayed.

As the 20th century approached, the marble top sink was replaced by a vitreous porcelain sink, in white. These sinks were free standing, or wall mounted, and often hid the plumbing behind a pedestal of some kind. The variety of style and size of these sinks was limited only by one’s wallet and room in the bathroom.

Late 19th century shower styles. Illustration via Plumbing and Sanitation Catalogue of J.L. Mott

The toilet had also changed. The first toilets depended on a high tank to help gravity drive the water through the system. The tanks, often made of wood, lined in lead or other metal for waterproofing, were attached to the bowl by long pipes.

The bowls were most often plain white vitreous porcelain, but these too, were often decorated with flowers and other decorative motifs. Some very ornate bowls were sculpted with designs and shapes, all of which was fired into the bowl itself.

Today, these bowls are extremely rare and quite expensive, but there are still a few around. Many here in the modern bathroom are European, salvaged there. By the turn of the 20th century, innovations to the flushing system enabled manufacturers to join the tank and the bowl, developing the modern toilet.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the bathroom is as we know it today. So too is the attitude towards cleanliness and privacy. Community is now out. For the middle-class or above, the sanctity of the bathroom was established. Poor people still had to share facilities.

Photo by Emily Gilbert for Arlington Place Bed and Breakfast

Tenements in our cities were not required to have indoor bathrooms until the early 20th century, and many still had outdoor privies in the back of the buildings. If there was a toilet, there might be one on each floor, shared by several families.

Bathtubs were also not a requirement in each apartment, and many tenements had communal tubs. Even the most “enlightened” tenements, such as Alfred Tredway White’s Riverside Apartments, in Brooklyn Heights, built in 1890, had communal bathing facilities in the basement.

The New Tenement Law of 1901 stated that indoor toilets had to be introduced into all new tenement apartments, as well as bathtubs. Older apartments were supposed to be retrofitted, and toilets and tubs put in. Tubs remained in the kitchen for many years, but at least they were there.

Because sanitary facilities were so bad for poor people, especially when thousands of immigrants flocked to our cities, public baths had been established.

Colorful 1920s bathroom. Illustration via 1928 Kohler Catalogue


Construction with logs was described by Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio in his architectural treatise De Architectura. He noted that in Pontus (modern-day northeastern Turkey), dwellings were constructed by laying logs horizontally overtop of each other and filling in the gaps with "chips and mud". [1]

Historically log cabin construction has its roots in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Although their origin is uncertain, the first log structures were probably being built in Northern Europe by the Bronze Age (about 3500 BC). C. A. Weslager describes Europeans as having:

. accomplished in building several forms of log housing, having different methods of corner timbering, and they utilized both round and hewn logs. Their log building had undergone an evolutionary process from the crude "pirtti". a small gabled-roof cabin of round logs with an opening in the roof to vent smoke, to more sophisticated squared logs with interlocking double-notch joints, the timber extending beyond the corners. Log saunas or bathhouses of this type are still found in rural Finland. By stacking tree trunks one on top of another and overlapping the logs at the corners, people made the "log cabin". They developed interlocking corners by notching the logs at the ends, resulting in strong structures that were easier to make weather-tight by inserting moss or other soft material into the joints. As the original coniferous forest extended over the coldest parts of the world, there was a prime need to keep these cabins warm. The insulating properties of the solid wood were a great advantage over a timber frame construction covered with animal skins, felt, boards or shingles. Over the decades, increasingly complex joints were developed to ensure more weather tight joints between the logs, but the profiles were still largely based on the round log. [2]

Nevertheless, a medieval log cabin was considered movable property (a chattel house), as evidenced by the relocation of Espåby village in 1557: the buildings were simply disassembled, transported to a new location and reassembled. It was also common to replace individual logs damaged by dry rot as necessary.

The Wood Museum in Trondheim, Norway, displays fourteen different traditional profiles, but a basic form of log construction was used all over North Europe and Asia and later imported to America.

Log construction was especially suited to Scandinavia, where straight, tall tree trunks (pine and spruce) are readily available. With suitable tools, a log cabin can be erected from scratch in days by a family. As no chemical reaction is involved, such as hardening of mortar, a log cabin can be erected in any weather or season. Many older towns in Northern Scandinavia have been built exclusively out of log houses, which have been decorated by board paneling and wood cuttings. Today, construction of modern log cabins as leisure homes is a fully developed industry in Finland and Sweden. Modern log cabins often feature fiberglass insulation and are sold as prefabricated kits machined in a factory, rather than hand-built in the field like ancient log cabins.

Log cabins are mostly constructed without the use of nails and thus derive their stability from simple stacking, with only a few dowel joints for reinforcement. This is because a log cabin tends to compress slightly as it settles, over a few months or years. Nails would soon be out of alignment and torn out.

A timber cutter's mountain log cabin at the Museum of Folk Architecture, Pyrohiv, Ukraine.

A typical Volhynian log cabin: Shpykhlir in the village of Samara in Rivne Oblast

Ornamental woodcarving in the shape of an eagle's head on a projecting log in the wall of the loft from Ose at Norsk Folkemuseum.

In the present-day United States, settlers may have first constructed log cabins by 1640. Historians believe that the first log cabins built in North America were in the Swedish colony of Nya Sverige (New Sweden) in the Delaware River and Brandywine River valleys. Most of the settlers were actually Forest Finns (a heavily oppressed Finnish ethnic group originally from Savonia and Tavastia, who starting from the 1500s were displaced or persuaded to go inhabit and practice slash and burn agriculture (which they were famous for in eastern Finland) in the deep forests of inland Sweden and Norway, during Sweden's 600+ year colonial rule over Finland, who since 1640 were being captured and displaced to the colony. [3] After arriving, they would escape the Fort Christina center where the Swedes lived, to go and live in the forest as they did back home. There they encountered the Lenni Lenape tribe of Delaware, whom they found a lot of cultural similarities with (slash & burn agriculture, sweat lodges/saunas, love of forests, etc.), thus they ended up living alongside and even culturally assimilating with them [4] (they are the earlier and lesser-known Findian tribe, [5] [6] being overshadowed by the Ojibwe Findians of Minnesota, Michigan and Ontario, Canada). In those forests, the first log cabins of America were built, using traditional Finnish methods. Even though New Sweden only existed briefly before it was absorbed by the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which was eventually taken over by the English, these quick and easy construction techniques of the Finns not only remained, but spread. [ citation needed ]

Later German and Ukrainian immigrants also used this technique. The contemporaneous British settlers had no tradition of building with logs, but they quickly adopted the method. The first English settlers did not widely use log cabins, building in forms more traditional to them. [7] Few log cabins dating from the 18th century still stand, but they were often not intended as permanent dwellings. Possibly the oldest surviving log house in the United States is the C. A. Nothnagle Log House (ca. 1640) in New Jersey. Settlers often built log cabins as temporary homes to live in while constructing larger, permanent houses then they either demolished the log structures or usedoften used them as outbuildings, such as barns or chicken coops. [ citation needed ]

Log cabins were sometimes hewn on the outside so that siding might be applied they also might be hewn inside and covered with a variety of materials, ranging from plaster over lath to wallpaper. [ citation needed ]

Log cabins were built from logs laid horizontally and interlocked on the ends with notches (British English cog joints). Some log cabins were built without notches and simply nailed together, but this was not as structurally sound. Modern building methods allow this shortcut.

The most important aspect of cabin building is the site upon which the cabin was built. Site selection was aimed at providing the cabin inhabitants with both sunlight and drainage to make them better able to cope with the rigors of frontier life. Proper site selection placed the home in a location best suited to manage the farm or ranch. When the first pioneers built cabins, they were able to "cherry pick" the best logs for cabins. These were old-growth trees with few limbs (knots) and straight with little taper. Such logs did not need to be hewn to fit well together. Careful notching minimized the size of the gap between the logs and reduced the amount of chinking (sticks or rocks) or daubing (mud) needed to fill the gap. The length of one log was generally the length of one wall, although this was not a limitation for most good cabin builders.

Decisions had to be made about the type of cabin. Styles varied greatly from one part of North America to another: the size of the cabin, the number of stories, type of roof, the orientation of doors and windows all needed to be taken into account when the cabin was designed. In addition, the source of the logs, the source of stone and available labor, either human or animal, had to be considered. If timber sources were further away from the site, the cabin size might be limited.

Cabin corners were often set on large stones if the cabin was large, other stones were used at other points along the sill (bottom log). Since they were usually cut into the sill, thresholds were supported with rock as well. These stones are found below the corners of many 18th-century cabins as they are restored. Cabins were set on foundations to keep them out of damp soil but also to allow for storage or basements to be constructed below the cabin. Cabins with earth floors had no need for foundations.

Cabins were constructed using a variety of notches. Notches can vary within ethnic groups as well as between them. Notches often varied on a single building, so their styles were not conclusive. One method common in the Ohio River Valley in southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana is the Block House End Method. An example of this is found in the David Brown House.

Some older buildings in the United States Midwest and the Canadian Prairies are log structures covered with clapboards or other materials. Nineteenth-century cabins used as dwellings were occasionally plastered on the interior. The O'Farrell Cabin (ca. 1865) in Boise, Idaho, had backed wallpaper used over newspaper. The C.C.A. Christenson Cabin in Ephraim, Utah (ca. 1880) was plastered over willow lath.

Log cabins reached their peak of complexity and elaboration with the Adirondack-style cabins of the mid-19th century. This style was the inspiration for many United States Park Service lodges built at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Log cabin building never died out or fell out of favor. It was surpassed by the needs of a growing urban United States. During the 1930s and the Great Depression, the Roosevelt Administration directed the Civilian Conservation Corps to build log lodges throughout the west for use by the Forest Service and the National Park Service. Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon was such a log structure, and it was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1930, the world's largest log cabin was constructed at a private resort in Montebello, Quebec, Canada. Often described as a "log château", it serves as the Château Montebello hotel.

The modern version of a log cabin is the log home, which is a house built usually from milled logs. The logs are visible on the exterior and sometimes interior of the house. These cabins are mass manufactured, traditionally in Scandinavian countries and increasingly in eastern Europe. Squared milled logs are precut for easy assembly. Log homes are popular in rural areas, and even in some suburban locations. In many resort communities in the United States West, homes of log and stone measuring over 3,000 sq ft (280 m 2 ) are not uncommon. These "kit" log homes are one of the largest consumers of logs in the Western United States.

In the United States, log homes have embodied a traditional approach to home building, one that has resonated throughout American history. It is especially interesting to discover that, in today's world, log homes represent a technology that allows a home to be built with a high degree of sustainability. In fact, log homes are frequently considered to be on the leading edge of the green building movement.

Crib barns were a popular type of barn found throughout the U.S. south and southeast regions. Crib barns were especially ubiquitous in the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain states of North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.

In Europe, modern log cabins are often built in gardens and used as summerhouses, home offices or as an additional room in the garden. Summer houses and cottages are often built from logs in northern Europe.

Chinking refers to a broad range of mortar or other infill materials used between the logs in the construction of log cabins and other log-walled structures. Traditionally, dried mosses, such as Pleurozium schreberi or Hylocomium splendens, were used in the Nordic countries as an insulator between logs. In the United States, Chinks were small stones or wood or corn cobs stuffed between the logs.

Watch the video: The Rise of Urban Parks in the 19th Century