The wonderful and fascinating details of the 1800s have been gathered into one interesting volume, in which McCutcheon has included quotes from 19th-century citizens concerning or describing hairstyles and fashion, favorite swear words and slang, jokes of the period, courtship and marriage rituals, and more. A must for both fiction and nonfiction historical writers.
Oh how I wish I had found this book sooner!!! The book is exactly as it claims to be. A guide for writers (or history enthusiasts) for all things in the 1800s. You’ll find another version by the same title but a different cover. Rest assured, you’re looking at the same book. However, there is another version specifically on the Civil War. That is different.
The Everyday Life collection is pretty extensive. You’ll find others on Regency and Victorian England, Prohibition through WWII, Colonial American, Indian, Wild West, etc. If you write historical fiction and haven’t heard of this collection, it’s time to do a quick search on Amazon to see what you can uncover to assist you in your work.
What I Loved: I love how easy it is to gather the information offered. For me, being a busy mom of four and trying to keep up with the demands of writing full time, I don’t always have the time to research. I MAKE the time, but I don’t always have the time. I appreciate sources that lay things out in an easy to read format that doesn’t involve long-winded paragraphs.
The book actually looks like a dictionary with one word in bold on the left and a brief explanation. Some words are simply definitions and others have a more detailed explanation and even a short quote from a source during that time. Marc shares the dates of his sources so it’s helpful to understand whether it directly applies to your particular decade or not.
I also really appreciate how many categories were compiled together in this one book. Here’s a look at the table of contents:
Slang and Everyday Speech
Getting Around (This was my favorite section! Marc breaks down the various types of carriages, coaches, and wagons and also the details of a Stage Line. Then explains the various details and companies of the Railroad, Water travel, and even the mail carrier.)
Around the House
Clothing and Fashion
Money and Coinage
Health, Medicine, and Hygiene
Food, Drink, and Tobacco
Courtship and Marriage
Slavery and Black Plantation Culture
The Civil War
Out on the Range
Clearly, this is a goldmine. It’s a handy overview of the time and a great asset to your library. I encourage you to slip on over to Amazon and take a look inside this book for yourself.
Rating and Buying Options: I’m giving it 5 stars.
As previously noted, I like to buy my used books from Amazon or Half.com At the time of writing this post, I didn’t find any copies on Half.com but found plenty on Amazon. Used copies start at $3.
1 thought on “Civil War Research Book Review: The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon”
I’ve had this book for years. It’s very helpful. They actually have a whole series with different eras.
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