The Historical Spectator.

History as seen by the people who lived through it.

A Servantless House

Even novelists who do meticulous research for their period pieces tend to underestimate how much of domestic life in the ordinary middle-class home depended on servants until about the First World War. Here, from 1913, is a magazine article that describes an extraordinary novelty: a middle-class house kept without servants, thanks to modern technology.

The Case for Woman Suffrage

In 1913, more and more states were jumping on the woman-suffrage bandwagon. A forward-looking observer might have said that universal woman suffrage seemed inevitable in time. Pictorial Review magazine decided to run a series of articles describing how the women who could vote were using that right—and, as an introduction, the editor of the magazine, Arthur T. Vance, decided that the time was opportune to declare his own support of votes for women.

St. Ambrose Reads in Silence

In classical times all reading was done aloud, even in private. But St. Augustine remembered that his mentor St. Ambrose had a habit of reading in silence, without even whispering the words. It was so unusual that it called for an explanation.

An Experiment Interrupted

Does the imagination of a pregnant woman have a phys­ical effect on the child she is carrying? A certain English doctor was con­vinced that it did, and wrote a short book in refuta­tion of another doctor’s opinion that it did not. Unfor­tunately, how­ever, when he at­tempted to prove his thesis by experi­ment, he ran into difficulty.

A Storm in Colonial Boston

A description of a storm in Boston in 1743 also gives us a very vivid description of what Boston’s waterfront was like in the 1740s, when it was a thriving city, well established for more than a century, but still a British possession.

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