Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Ways to “Live” the 1860s

Posted By on January 16, 2012

Blogger Norm Gasbarro had this picture taken in a Civil War uniform by a vintage photographer

With interest in the Civil War growing each week, it is only natural that we are all developing a natural curiosity for what life was like in the 1860s. Today marks the first in a regular series of posts on this blog about the culture and daily life of Americans during the Civil War. The topics below will be discussed further in future posts, but for today we are listing some popular ways that enthusiasts explore the Civil War period.

A list of ways to immerse yourself in the 1860s:

  • Battle Reenactment.
  • Sewing and Crafts.
  • Read novels from the period.
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriett Beecher Stowe
    • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    • The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins (one of the first ever mystery novels)
    • the novels written by Charles Dickens
    • George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss about a brother and sister who grow up in a milling town
    • Anthony Trollope wrote a series of comical novels about rural life in England, the first being The Warden
    • Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret is a sensational novel about “accidental bigamy” a popular literary subject in the 1860s
    • Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
    • Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters is an interesting look at how women were viewed in novels
    • George Meredith’s The Ordeal of RIchard Feverel shows how children were thought of and what education was like
    • Emily Eden wrote two entertaining novels called The semi-detached house and The semi-attached couple
  • Explore how to run a home in the 1860s
  • Decorating your home in Victorian style.
  • Stay at a period bed and breakfast or inn.
  • Civil War gaming.
  • Model Railroading of the Civil War Era
  • Trace your own ancestry and try to learn stories from  your own family members that lived during the Civil War.


2 Responses to “Ways to “Live” the 1860s”

  1. Charles Wilson says:

    Hello American Civil War Enthusiast:

    My mother recently edited and published a book entitled “Shouts & Whispers” . This painstaking work is a transcription of

    letters from her great grandfather to his wife as he served in the Union army during the American Civil War. The soldier,

    D.D. Priest, was in the Vermont 2nd Company I from Bull Run in 1861 through Spotsylvania where he was wounded in 1864.

    This book is a must read for the Civil War buff and just a good, effortless read in general. This man intended for the letters to be saved

    and makes many references to people, places, and things during the war that make it come alive. There are eighty letters.

    My mother, Nancy D. Wilson has an M.A. English from the College of St. Rose. The letters were handed down from her mother

    and she still is in possession of the originals. Those interested in “primary source” material will not be disappointed.

    Nancy is a native Vermonter and graduate of U.V.M. class of ’59.

    Her motive for publishing was not profit, however, there is a cost of publication. The book

    is available on Amazon for a reasonable price of $20.00.

    Upcoming sesquicentennial celebrations can make this the perfect gift also!


    URL 978-1475041040

    Princeton, Harvard, The University of Vermont, and Syracuse University have ordered theirs.

    Whatever method you use to acquire new material can be accommodated. Will ship direct as well.

    Contact me: Charles Wilson cedarriv@frontiernet.net

    or my mother: Nancy Wilson nwilson@nycap.rr.com

    Thank you,

    Charles R. Wilson

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