Victorian America, 1876 to 1913 investigates America during a period of immense innovation and profound change. Illustrating numerous aspects of American life, both public and private, the book is a kind of mosaic, from which we discover what Americans ate, what they wore, what they did for entertainment, what songs they sang, what games they played, what books they read, who they voted for, what they worried about, how much they earned and how they spent it, what they grew, manufactured and produced, how they ...
Victorian America, 1876 to 1913 investigates America during a period of immense innovation and profound change. Illustrating numerous aspects of American life, both public and private, the book is a kind of mosaic, from which we discover what Americans ate, what they wore, what they did for entertainment, what songs they sang, what games they played, what books they read, who they voted for, what they worried about, how much they earned and how they spent it, what they grew, manufactured and produced, how they did or did not provide social services, how they celebrated themselves in three World's Fairs, and much, much more. Readers will find in these pages many perspectives on the culture, the arts, the economy, the politics and the conditions of ordinary life in the United States during the period between the Civil War and World War I. They will find evidence of diversity, growth and prosperity, as well as of bigotry, economic blight and miserable existences wasted in ill-compensated toil. They will find the mansions of Newport and the slums of the Lower East Side, the open door to immigrants and the confinement of the Indians of the western frontier, the capital accumulation of the robber barons and the struggles of workers - including child labor - for dignity and decent wages. They will find the overwhelming development of technology - for example, the invention and spread of the light bulb, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane and the movies - as it fueled the country's growth and changed America forever. In short, Victorian America, 1876 to 1913 reflects all the variety and contradiction of American life in this extraordinary historical era. Carefully chosen and representative information, in a concise, easy-to-use mix of documents, text, tables and illustrations, allows the reader to sample the texture and flavor of Victorian America.
In a period when publishers are rushing histories of the 20th century into print, what a pleasure it is to encounter two titles on the 19th century. Though the two books differ greatly in concept and neither is complete in coverage, they help fill a surprising void in general histories of the previous century. Editors Corey and Ochoa (The New York Public Library Book of Answers, S. & S., 1993) adhere tightly to the constraints of Victoria's reign, 1837-1901. Their encyclopedia's focus is Western, but it cannot help but cover the world, as did the English presence at the time. Entries are strictly alphabetical, brief yet informative, and broad in scope, illuminating the great strides made in the arts, sciences, medicine, and philosophy in this dynamic era. The pages are somewhat stark and would have been improved if lavished with more illustrations from an age that abhorred the unadorned. See references to related entries are included throughout the text; a seven-page bibliography of books covering various aspects of Victorian life and culture completes the volume. Ultimately, this is more a mirror of an era of thought than a comprehensive history of an age, but it may prove a useful handbook if the researcher can think first of time rather than of subject. The volume from Shifflett (history, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and SUNY) is part of the "Almanacs of American Life" series, four volumes intended to flesh out periods of our history with facts, figures, and articles on cultural life. The format is a mixture of original text, brief biographies, historical tables and charts, chronologies, and illustrations, all organized under broad subject headings. Why the odd period of 1876 to 1913 was chosen is unexplained; apparently, no volume of the series is planned to cover the period from 1800 to 1875, and carrying the Victorian designation to 1913 erroneously embraces such solidly 20th-century personalities as Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Ford. Nevertheless, the concept is well done and presents a wealth of specialized information in a tool that covers the social history of the last quarter of the 19th century better than any existing title. Librarians will find more material here than in The Encyclopedia of the Victorian World but covering a shorter period. A quick check will probably show that most libraries have more on Colonial than on Victorian America, and either of these two titles will help clarify an era of impressive advancement. For all libraries.James Moffet, Baldwin P.L., Birmingham, Mich.
An illustrated almanac investigating life in America during a period of immense innovation and change, with sections on areas such as natural history and historical geography; Native American life; economy; government; states and territories; cities; important people; popular culture; and arts and letters. A final section presents key documents describing issues and everyday activities of the era. Includes numerous tables, and b&w illustrations and photos. For students and general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.