Did you know that Jingle Bells was composed by James Lord Pierpoint in Medford, Massachusetts in 1850? It's claimed that the town's 19th century sleigh races inspired the song, and that it was originally written as a Thanksgiving, not Christmas song. Why "jingle bells"? Music historian James Fuld informs that the horse-drawn sleighs of the…Read more If you were to walk . . . or race a sleigh through Downtown Lowell’s Streets – 1906
There's a story about the rather richly named Armand Jean du Plessis that circulated throughout Victorian-era New England during the 1880's. The story goes that du Plessis, better remembered by the world as the 17th-century Cardinal Richelieu of France, once exposed an impostor pretending to be a nobleman by the way the man ate his olives. Those watching this spectacle,…Read more The Etiquette of Eating Olives – Victorian-Era Table Manners
We New Englanders have long called Boston "the Hub". And there's a sense, just barely concealed, that we're really referring to the hub of the universe, and not merely the hub of the state or region. Undoubtedly, New England has a strong regional identity that includes the ubiquitous image of the "proper Bostonian" as well as a…Read more In His Words: Charles Dickens’ Perspective on New England and Public Transport, 1842
Do you commute to work using public transportation? There's a certain etiquette, a set of norms, that is easily observable when you are on the bus, the train, the subway, or even a plane. There's a prevailing thought out there that civility is a "thing of the past". But, was it? Did our ancestors live…Read more The Civility of the Past – Our Ancestors’ Experiences with Public Transport
As you read contemporary accounts of everyday life in Victorian-era New England, a few things gradually become clear. 1. Burglary was quite common. 2. Gun ownership was also quite common. Sure, there's a lot of truth that Victorian-era New Englanders spent considerable time riding through snow-covered landscapes on one-horse open sleighs while caroling. (Think Currier…Read more Your great-grandparents really did lock their doors – or should have. . . .