Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Back to the Slums

I enjoyed a bit of a holiday weekend. I still worked on Monday, but I didn’t keep to my normal schedule or expectations. But today it’s on and all-in. I’m still on an earlier schedule, which means that today I’m more or less on my usual “ideal” routine, except I fit in a half-hour walk and am still slightly ahead of where I typically would hope to be at this time of the morning. Supposedly, exercise makes you more creative. We shall see how that goes this afternoon. Yesterday I got the first two chapters of that novel revised. There’s some tweaking to be done, but otherwise I think it’s going well.

Tonight is the finale of that Victorian Slum House show on PBS, and it turns out that they did address the issues of alcohol and sanitation in the 1890s episode. They kind of skimmed past alcohol, just mentioning that there were some people who spent up to a fifth of their family income on alcohol and that there were a lot of temperance movements, but they didn’t make any of the participants spend their rent money on gin to show the effects on the family, and they didn’t get into the fact that a lot of the temperance movements weren’t so much about sobriety and morality as they were a movement against domestic violence. That’s why these movements were driven by women — women and children were getting abused when men came home drunk or when men wanted more money for alcohol and their wives hid it so they could pay the rent or buy food.

They addressed sanitation when they got into the various reform movements that came along in the 1890s and how there were efforts to inspect the slums for cleanliness. Some of the participants got to visit a public bath house — what’s now a public swimming pool. From some of the other research I’ve done, those public pools weren’t really about cleanliness — you had to wash before getting in, and that was where the “bathing” part came in — but rather about health. There was a belief that there were health benefits to soaking in water. Then they figured out that it was also fun, and that’s where we got swimming pools. These participants talked about this being the first time in weeks they really felt clean, so I guess they weren’t getting modern showers offscreen.

Tonight, they’ll be moving into the turn of the century and the end of the Victorian era and see how our various families ended up.

And, no, this isn’t research for the Rebels series, though it’s interesting to compare London to New York of that timeframe. I have something else in mind that’s more Dickensian, but secondary world, so it is London-like but not actually London.


Anonymous said...

I think they did this kind of thing about 15 years ago with Victorian House, Pioneer House and Edwardian House. Those may be available for viewing at the library.

Shanna Swendson said...

I saw the World War II house thing they did that was similar, but it was just one family rather than an apartment building full of different families. I read about the others but didn't see them. Hmm, shall have to check the library.

Anonymous said...


The Wikipedia article link. The Victorian house was called 1900 house when it was broadcast.