[To “Voices from 19th-Century America”]


or, Things Too Good Not to Put On the Web

Occasionally I come across something interesting or useful (or bizarre) that doesn’t fit anywhere else at the site. And I just have to share.

The Velocipede or Swift Walker” (1819) looks at a new invention and describes how to ride one of these precursors to the bicycle.

Eliza Leslie’s recipe for curds and whey (from Seventy-five Receipts, for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1828; reproduced Bedford, MA: Applewood Books, n. d.; p. 34)

Take a small piece of rennet about two inches square. Wash it very clean in cold water to get all the salt off, and wipe it dry. Put it in a tea-cup and pour on it just enough of lukewarm water to cover it. Let it set all night or for several hours. Then take out the rennet, and stir the water in which it was soaked, into a quart of milk, which should be in a broad dish.

Set the milk in a warm place, till it becomes a firm curd. As soon as the curd is completely made, set it in a cool place, or on ice (if in summer) for two or three hours before you want to use it.

Eat it with wine, sugar, and nutmeg.


The whey, drained from the curd, is an excellent drink for invalids.

[Transcriber’s question: Is this what little Miss Muffet was eating?]

A few classic recipes from The Kentucky Housewife, by Lettice Bryan (1839):

Blanc-mange (what the March girls made for Laurie, in Little Women), watermelon candy, milk punch, sangaree, and pap (infant formula, 19th-century style).

A liquor litany from John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms (1848)

Put bluntly, 19th-century Americans drank. A lot. Bartlett recorded for posterity an amazing number of mixed drinks available in one bar.

A Literary Man in Distress” (1856):

An early grant application from The New York Daily Tribune.

An advertisement for The New York Tribune (1857):

This advertisement from Robert Merry’s Museum manages to pack a newspaper’s-worth of text into a single page.

A few classic (and not-so-classic) recipes from The Virginia Housewife, by Mary Randolph (1860):

Oyster soup, catfish soup, mock turtle soup, apple pie, fruit cake, oyster ice cream, and ice cream in general.

A hair dye from the Easton, Pennsylvania, Sentinel (19 June 1860) [Not an exact transcription. And, if you experiment, transcriber not responsible for results!]:

Mix 1 part bay rum, 3 parts olive oil, and 1 part brandy. Wash hair with it once a day, and it will turn black.

Sure to be in every parlor was one of the popular Rogers groups, four of which were pictured in The Little Corporal in 1866.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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