December 28, 2009

Harper's Weekly: How to Be Beautiful

This excerpt is from Harper's Weekly in 1861. It has a very beautiful message, especially in a time when luxuries were starting to be impossible to get. A Lady's Toilet was her collection of beautifying agents and also included her clothing and family medicines. Sentiments like the ones in the clipping were common when women had to start to do without luxiouries, men are reported to have complimented the ladies at the time, saying that they were prettier than ever.  

Civil War Reenactor Harper's WeeklyOtto of Rose: The essential oil of rose petals used as a perfume.
Lip-Salve: There were lots of period recipes that contained, wax, oils and fats like many do today; however, Lydia Marie Child, in The American Frugal Housewife suggested earwax for chapped lips!
Sal Volatile: This was ammonium carbonate mixed with ammonia water or alcohol used as smelling salts. Smelling salts were used to relieve headaches and revive the fainted.
Pomade Divine: A cream for bruises, swelling, and chapped skin which commonly used rosewater, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. 
Sticking Plaster: Was silk that had an adhesive brushed on one side, it was used like a modern sticky bandage.
Simple Anodynes: Were sedatives, bromide of
potassium (a salt,) and store-bought medicines (often just alcohol) were commonly used.  

 Many middle class and upper class women had their own "toilets" in their rooms. Toilets as we have today were nonexistent, people still used chamber pots and outdoor toilets. During the war, southern women were asked to save the contents of their chamberpots to produce nitre for gunpowder.  

*Note: Engraving from London Society By James Hogg, Florence Marryat (1860):

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