The world changes in the blink of an eye. In the 21st century, we have the luxury of visiting scenes from history in books, film, and documents, with the safety and conveniences of modern life. Join me to examine the lives of our ancestors, imagine their experiences, and connect with their struggles and triumphs.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Discrimination Against Women

Trouble in Chatham Street

Quite a commotion was produced yesterday morning among the traffickers in new clothes, old clothes, and “matters and things in general.” located in Chatham street, who have for years past been in the habit of throwing open their shops for trade, and exposing their wares at their doors and windows. The common Council have recently passed a resolution for the enforcement of the long neglected ordinance for the prevention of Sunday trafficking, the police under the direction of the Mayor, have commenced enforcing a strict and general observance of that ordinance, heretofore enforced only against the poor women and boys who eked out a few pence profit by selling apples and pea nuts. Almost with the rising of the sun, yesterday, the Chatham street retailers who have heretofore been in that practice, opened their shops and stalls, and hung out their articles of trade, as usual, but before ten o’clock they received a visit from officer Merritt, who warned them to take in their “traps,” and close their shops, and that in case of their refusal or neglect to comply in stanter, or their reopening on any future Sabbath for the purposes of trade, they would be proceeded against according to law. Most, if not all of them, had the discretion to comply with the requirement, and henceforth a strict watch will be kept upon them which will render it both unsafe and disagreeable for them to continue desecrating the Sabbath in the manner which has been too long tolerated. N. Y. Sun.
Hartford Watchman
Hartford, Connecticut
June 2, 1838

Image courtesy of Library of Congress -
"Magisterial vigilance, or the picket guard civilly clearing Cornhill of a few old apple women"

*Note the article states the ordinance banning commerce on Sundays had always been enforced against women and children eking out a few pennies selling food. This illustrates yet another way women were controlled and kept powerless. Both women and children were deemed a nuisance, but even more telling, women were relegated to the same status level as children. Many of the women resorting to such business were likely widows or may have been deserted. Few jobs were open to them. Poor Laws often worked against them (as they did against most); the laws discriminated against those not native to a town or region, and if they had relocated for marriage, they were shunned if they lost their ties to the community through death or abandonment. They were often home-bound, caring for young children or disabled. Without a means for income on their own, they were often forced into extreme poverty or marriage and rarely had the opportunity to change their station.

I also can't help but see a subtext of religious punishment. Women not allowed to sell apples....


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mercenary Marriages

Mercenary Marriages

I have heard of a case where a girl, earning $60 a month, resigned her position in order to marry a man whose salary was $40 a month, but such instances of devotion are rare, writes Francis M. Abbott in the Century. It is not college women alone, but women throughout the country, who are yearly looking less and less upon marriage as a means of support. I do not say that the majority of marriages in the past have been mercenary, but as women increase in financial independence the time may come when contracts of that sort may be eliminated altogether.

New England Farmer
Boston, Mass.
Saturday, June 12, 1896

*Gender ratios were skewed after the Civil War, as they were after most major conflicts until the late 1900s when military technology advanced and fewer men died in combat. Women often had to choose between a poor marriage prospect or remaining single. As the industrial revolution advanced and gender ratios recovered at the close of the 19th century, and as the feminist movement grew, women had more options, could support themselves, and could be more selective in courtship and marriage. This contributed to the introduction of the concept of dating and made courtship and marriage more competitive for men--until World War II.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

1955 Colorado Parochial State Championship Football Game

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In 1955, Pueblo Catholic High School hosted the Parochial State Championship football game against Denver's Regis High School. Pueblo, Colorado has always had a large Catholic population, in large part due to the large Italian and Hispanic populations.

Programs for such events were quite elaborate and illustrate one of the main advertising markets for local businesses before television commercials became the norm.

The program cost 25 cents, compared to:

Cost of a gallon of gas:            23 cents
Black and white TV:                $99.95
Average price of a new car:     $1,900
Average rent:                         $87
Minimum wage:                       $1
Average annual income:           $4,130

Also in 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested, Ray Kroc founded McDonald's, James Dean was killed in a car accident, and "The Mickey Mouse Club" debuted on the ABC network.

Pueblo Catholic High School vs. Regis - Parochial State Championship - Pueblo Public School Stadium - December 4, 1955

Pueblo Catholic High School Football Team Photo
First Row: Head Coach Jack Parsons, Joe Trujillo, Lew Carricato, Sam Chigro, Dave Socier, Charles Gettler, Dale Bensko, Lane Faricy, Charles Greco
Second Row: Dennis Cesar, Stanley Mena, John Williams, Joe Papish, Steve Bravdica, Robert Valentine, Anthony Horvat, Bob Cardinal
Third Row: Ass't. Coach Frank Flood, Jack Drury, Al Bresson, Louis Pulco, Ted Vidmar, Edward Spelich, James Siegle
Fourth Row: James Drury, John Lane, Dan Maroney, Ray DeLuca, James Spinuzzi, Manuel Ortega

Message from Monsignor Elwood C. Voss, Superintendent of Pueblo Catholic High School - Advertisements for Mauro Insurance Agency, Minnequa Inn, The Summit Pressed Brick and Tile Company, and Royal Crown Cola

Photo of Rev. James Eatough, S. J., Principal of Regis High School - Advertisements for Joe Anzick's Restaurant & Lounge and Frozen Food Center and Appliances, and Ollie Samples Used Cars

Advertisements for White Horse Inn, Dincler's Fabrics, Christen Auto Supply, Newton's, Furr Food Stores, Alamo Drug Co., and Joe Mulay's Gold Rail Tavern and Café

Photos from my collection

Friday, March 13, 2015

Live On Even If You Had Rather Die

Letter from a woman to her friend about family illness and the death of her child

Friendville, Nebraska
April 29th, 1880

Dear Friend Hattie

I have thought about writing you a number of times, but have neglected it for some unknown reason until the present time. Now as Emma is visiting will ins___ the opportunity of sending a note in her letter. She has been visiting me this afternoon and we enjoyed the visit as well as could be expected under the circumstances. She just rec’d your letter informing her of Chas(?) illness, and of course she feels very very bad, has cried all the afternoon. And to say I am very sorry is but half expressing the sentiments of my mind. And Hattie [and I abbreviated] suppose you have herd [sic] that my little darling Bertha is gone. I can never tell you what I have suffered the two short months she has been gone. It was so very sudden only sick four days. Hattie only thinks what if your darling should be tourn [sic] from you, what would you do? You would have to bear it just as I do, and live on even if you had rather die. She was such a dear little one. It seems as though part of my life has gone out. You do not know anything about it and God grant you never may. Hattie [and I] hope you will return to this place again in time. Do you not think of coming back some time. Write me please, and kiss your mother & Lett__ for me also the children, not forgetting to remember me to your husband. I received your card, enclosed also find mine. I shall expect to hear from you soon.

Ever Your true friend

Julia Thompson
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Business of Woman

The Business of Woman.

The business woman must take time to keep well. If social pleasures encroach on her resting time, she must give them up. On the other hand, her anxiety to keep up with the fashions or to keep up to date in other matters ought not to induce her to make twins of herself. It is much better to do one woman’s work well than to make a failure in two lines. Only in exceedingly rare instances can a woman be at the same time a successful business woman and her own dressmaker, milliner and housekeeper. Business women ought to take a few leaves from the experience of men, who have been longer in business and therefore know more about it. They take innumerable little recreations, and do not attempt to crowd all of life into one day. They get more pay, largely because they have a higher standard of comfort. – Lippincott’s.
New England Farmer
Boston, Mass.
Saturday, June 12, 1896

Cartoon commentary on women entering the offices of Milwaukee Journal, 1895.
Courtesy of LOC -


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Women's Interests

New England Farmer
Boston, Mass.
Saturday, June 12, 1896

The third biennial session of the general federation of women’s clubs just closed at Louisville may not be as important an affair as the coming national republican convention at St. Louis. It is, however, significant of the progress of women and of their strength when organized. One thousand delegates representing thousands more of intelligent women who have stayed at home, form a body not to be set aside lightly when it has a fixed purpose in view. Just now a majority of club women are greatly interested in those minor reforms that affect health and morals and go so much towards making the world a better place to live in, and for this they should be commended and encouraged.
Mrs. A. E. Whitaker, Editor

Delegation to White House, 1914. Courtesy of Library of Congress.


Women's History Month

For Women's History Month, I'll be focusing on items relating to women as much as possible. As a historian, the lack of resources which mention women outside the context of household management, "frivolous pursuits," or celebrity is frustrating, but we do find bits here and there. Their voices can be heard; we just have to listen closer.

Courtesty Library of Congress.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reasons for not going to church; or, Excuses given to Minister

Hartford Watchman
Hartford, Connecticut
June 9, 1838

From the Southern Churchman.

Reasons for not going to church

Overslept myself

Rural Church, unknown location, c. 1900s

Could not dress in time

Too cold

Too hot

Too windy

Too dusty

Too wet

Too damp

Too sunny

Too cloudy

Don’t feel disposed

No other time to myself

Look over my drawers

Put my papers to rights

Letters to write to my friends

Mean to take a walk

Going to take a ride

Tied to business six days in the week

No fresh air but on Sundays

Can’t breath in church, always so full

Feel a little feverish

Feel a little chilly

Feel very lazy

Expect company to dinner

Got a headache

Intend nursing myself to day

New bonnet not come home

Tore my muslin dress coming down stairs

Got a new novel, must be returned on Monday morning

Wasn’t shaved in time

Don’t like a liturgy, always praying for the same thing

Don’t like extempore prayer, don’t know what is coming

Don’t like an organ ‘tis too noisy

Don’t like singing without music, makes me nervous

Can’t sit in a draft of air, windows or doors open in summer

Stove so hot in winter always get a head-ache

Can’t hear an extempore sermon, too frothy

Dislike a written sermon, too prosing

Nobody to day but our minister can’t always listen to the same preacher

Don’t like strangers

Can’t keep awake when at church

Fell asleep last time I was there, shan’t risk it again

Mean to enquire of some sensible person about the propriety of going to so public a place as church
*Editorial note: I restructured the format of the original text for readability.