10 Strange Recreational Pastimes Victorians Actually Enjoyed 0 14

Visiting the morgue or a prison might not be the modern sightseer’s idea of a good time, but to Victorians, these were perfectly pleasant ways to spend their free time.

Sewer Tours


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Parisians were very proud of their sewerage system. An entryway on the Boulevard de Sebastopol invited sightseers on tours given by “sewermen” on the weekends. Carts pushed by hand were installed first, then mechanized carts, and finally full trolleys that were eventually followed by the subway.

An Afternoon At The Morgue


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In the late 1800s, spectators came by the thousands to view unidentified dead bodies at the Paris morgue. Located behind Notre Dame cathedral, the morgue was mentioned in many travel guidebooks of the era. Vendors sold fruit, pastries, and toys to the crowds who came to gossip about the corpses, which were laid out on slabs for viewing behind a glass window. The morgue didn’t close to the public until 1907.

Pteridomania Expeditions


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A botanical fever gripped England in the 19th century. Pteridomania was the name for the concentrated interest on ferns and fern collecting. Dedicated pteridomaniacs scoured their own backyards and the globe in search of new specimens. Fern gathering outings became a convenient excuse for the sexes to mingle, and overnight excursions may have even lead to several marriages.

Mummy Unwrapping


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While a trip down the Nile still seems like an exciting and interesting way to spend vacation time, Victorians took their fascination with Egypt to a different level. There are rumors that the Victorians regularly staged private parties where mummies were unwrapped and guests were allowed to take whatever was found in their linens home. Unwrapping events did occur, but the majority were in an academic context. The Victorian fixation with Egypt was undeniable, however, and Nile cruises were a popular vacation choice.

Slumming


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With the expansion of London’s population during the Industrial Age came a widening gap between the classes. Wealthy Londoners began to try their hand at slumming, a kind of urban tourism that gave them a chance to experience life in the lower classes. An 1884 issue of the New York Times commented on the practice: “…it became fashionable to go ‘slumming’ ladies and gentlemen were induced to don common clothes and go out in the highways and byways to see people of whom they had heard, but of whom they were as ignorant as if they were inhabitants of a strange country.”

Terrifying Amusement Park Rides


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A French engineer named Charles Carron designed a ride that was never built, but exemplified the kind of lengths Victorians would go to for a thrill. Carron’s giant bullet enclosed 15 riders in a capsule that would be dropped nearly 1,000 feet. Although this vision was never realized, the mechanics of many early rides were less than sound. Even the first Ferris Wheel, which debuted at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, rained rusty bolts on spectators.

The Beach, But With As Many Clothes As Possible


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Trips to the seaside were enormously popular in Victorian England, but they came with certain restrictions. Women wore sack-like garments in the water, and many beaches were segregated by gender. Bathing machines were designed with the intention of protecting women’s modesty at the shore. These four-wheeled boxes were wheeled into the water, so their occupants could step out in their bathing garments far from prying eyes.

Hospitals And Asylums


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Bethlem Hospital of London opened its doors to the public to raise funds up until 1770, but interest in touring asylums continued into the 19th century. North American guidebooks of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s recommended that tourists seek out a number of medical establishments, including the Worcester State Hospital and Perkins School For The Blind.

Prison Visits


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Along the same vein as asylums and hospitals, prison buildings drew visitors purely for their unprecedented scope and size. Charles Dickens was reported to have visited prisons on his tour of the United States.

Taking The Waters


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The medical advice to “take the waters” for six weeks or so was common and recommended for treatment of a variety of ailments. Water was considered a cure-all for everything from cancer to the hiccups, and spa villages appeared across 20 states in America by the 1850s.

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11 Products Most Women Use That Were Invented By Men 0 4

For all of our recent attempts at gender neutral and equality, there are certain products that are used mostly by women.

But surprisingly, many of those were designed by particularly insightful men—who knew not just what a woman wanted, but what she needed.

Tampons


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The Tampax company was run by a rather formidable lady by the name of Gertrude Tendrich.

But the patent their prime product was based on was filed by a Colorado GP, Dr. Earle Haas. He sold the patent to Gertrude when he couldn’t get women to buy his product. He also pioneered the contraceptive diaphragm (and sold the patent for that off too for similar reasons).

Sanitary Pads


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Oddly, the modern pad is derived from something created by Benjamin Franklin. Yes. That Benjamin Franklin. The $100 dollar bill Benjamin Franklin.

He initially developed multi-level absorbent pads to block up battle wounds. Within a few decades, they’d been re-purposed and re-packaged for women’s use during that time of the month.

The Birth Control Pill


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The birth control pill was developed through two collaborations of gentlemen. Drs. Gregory Pincus and John Rock usually get the credit for the first oral contraceptive.

But the one most of us take today was a group effort by chemist Carl Djerassi, Dr. George Rosenkranz and their student, Luis E. Miramontes. Birth control as a concept was, however, pioneered by ladies and men.

Handbags


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Coin purses and luggage have existed in one form or another for millennia. But the first order for something more akin to the modern handbag or pocketbook was placed by a British entrepreneur during the 1840s.

Candy magnate Samuel Parkinson demanded a moderately sized traveling bag for his wife’s personal effects. London leather goods company H.J. Cave & Sons complied with his order and then used it as the basis for the first line of modern designer hand bags.

Nylon Stockings


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Cloth and silk stockings were floating around for a while—but were rather expensive luxury goods for most of their history.

But the male-run Dupont company is what made them mass producible. They quickly realized that the new nylon fabric they created would translate into ladies’ legwear and set up such successful marketing there was a post-war stocking-riot when they couldn’t keep up with demand.

The Bikini


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Two male designers both compete for the title of the creator of the modern bikini— and they are both French.

Jacques Heim and Louis Réard purportedly came up with the design at the same time in 1946.

The Thighmaster


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The Thigmaster was popularized by 70s sitcom star Suzanne Somers.

But the mastermind behind the clunky and bizarre exercise device was a gent by the name of Joshua Reynolds. Incidentally, he’s also the same guy who marketed the world mood rings.

Hair Dye


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The synthetic hair dye that’s opened up such a wide arena of natural and unnatural coloring (for women and men) was also designed by a man.

French chemist Eugène Schueller developed the first recipe, and used it as the start up example for his new company—a little thing you might have heard of called L’Oreal.

Liquid Foundation


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Most make-up only used to come in white (seriously, everyone in Queen Elizabeth’s court looked like terrifying white-faced mimes).

The first foundations were not just white, they were made up of a terrifying concoction of chemicals that burned out the skin of the lords, ladies, and performers that applied it regularly. Enter German actor Carl Baudin. He’s the guy behind flesh-toned grease-paint—the precursor to modern liquid foundation.

Face Powder


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Likewise, face powder also used to only come in one color: bright white. It wasn’t really useful for anyone but the palest of showgirls and geishas.

Early Hollywood cosmetician Max Factor grew frustrated with the lack of variability and created face powder in different skin tones. And then went on to found one of the world’s greatest cosmetics companies.

Mascara


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Two other make-up magnates both technically invented mascara: one each on either side of the Atlantic.

At the same time perfumer-maker Eugene Rimmel was making mascara for his clients in Paris, American T. L. Williams created a recipe for his sister Maybel. Eugene went on to found Rimmel. And Williams and his sister created Maybelline.

11 People You Wouldn’t Believe Used To Be In The KKK 0 3

The KKK is one of few groups that is so associated with fear and hate-mongering, its own members don’t want to reveal their faces. Today, we lift that shroud of mystery to take a look at some surprising people who were members of the KKK.

Ashley Wilkes

Granted, Ashley Wilkes is a character from “Gone With the Wind” and not an actual person, but it’s still rather jarring to know that the formation of the KKK is portrayed in the famous movie. The KKK was born in the aftermath of the Civil War, in 1866. The earliest inception of the group was to protect women and other citizens from the shanty towns that sprang up all over the south once the war ended. From these lofty ideals, the group quickly devolved into an organization bent on oppression and terror. Ashley Wilkes is like a great many real white southerners who joined the organization with good intentions in mind. But that was way back in 1866.

Nathan Bedford Forrest


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To be specific, the KKK began in Tennessee. The white hoods and sheets were meant to represent the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. But soon, the group was more about terrorizing blacks than it was about protecting whites. The KKK rode at night, perpetrating raids on areas where blacks lived. Nathan Bedford Forrest, former Confederate general, was in command of the KKK until 1868. He formally disbanded the group at this point, appalled by the violence of it. The KKK lived on, however.

Hugo L. Black


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Congress created a committee in 1871 to investigate the Klan, and passed the civil rights act of 1871 to help curtail the group’s activities. But years later, the KKK would infiltrate the highest levels of government. We’re referring, of course, to Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, a trial attorney from Alabama who joined the group in 1923. He was appointed to the Court in 1937, and there is no clear evidence that he ever left the KKK. Black is to the far left in this photo, standing with two other justices.

William McKinley


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President William McKinley, from Ohio, was a member of the KKK. He served in office from 1897 to 1901. McKinley is to the left here, next to his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson


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The KKK had fallen out of fashion, but it became extremely popular right after World War I. President Woodrow Wilson was in office from 1913 to 1921, for the whole of the war and its immediate aftermath. He was also a member of the KKK.

Warren G. Harding


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In the 1920s, the group reached its highest numbers in history with close to 4 million members. The KKK was highly influential in politics at this time. Warren G. Harding was President from 1921 to 1923, and died in office. Harding was purportedly sworn into the KKK while in the White House.

Gutzon Borglum


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The artist who created Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was an active member of the KKK. He reportedly served on one of their councils. When his involvement with the group came to light later, he publicly denounced the KKK.

Calvin Coolidge


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Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, served in office from 1923 to 1929 and was an active KKK member. The KKK became much less popular in the late 1920s, as more about its violent actions became widely known. Membership went down to 40,000 by 1929, and states began passing anti-mask laws to curb KKK activity.

Harry S. Truman


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The KKK continued to operate throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and times were volatile for many African-Americans. Harry S. Truman was President from 1945 to 1953. Truman was a KKK member for about two years, but fell out with the group because he believed Roman Catholics should be allowed to be in politics.

Robert Byrd


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West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd joined the KKK in the 1940s at the age of 24. He served in the Senate for nearly six decades. The KKK experienced a brief resurgence in the 1960s, and violently opposed the Civil Rights movement. The KKK was directly responsible for the murder of several civil rights workers and attacks on activists at this time. But the glory days were over. The KKK would get weaker and weaker after this.

African-Americans


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The KKK fractured into small splinter groups and had a membership of less than 10,000 by the 1990s. The KKK has weathered several lawsuits and arrests, not to mention laws and ordinances that prevent them from engaging in their various activities.

In a bizarre re-branding, one KKK chapter announced recently that it is accepting homosexuals, African-Americans, and Jewish people into the group. The Klan currently has between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide.

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