Virginia's Veranda Archive

If you want to look at previous articles, we are maintaining a list of the titles here. We also are including the approximate date of posting. So just click onthe title desired.

All articles are copyrighted by Virginia Mescher. The articles may not be reproduced by any means including printed or electronic, regardless of whether for fee or without charge, without the written permission of its author. This prohibition includes publishing it on a webpage except for small excerpts, appropriately credited.

Some articles were prepared using Adobe Acrobat. To read it requires use ofAdobe Acrobat Reader which may be downloaded for free herefrom Adobe.

Valentine's Day: Origins of the Day and Customs by Virginia Mescher. Posted February - March 2003.

Comforts from Home about packing boxes to send to the soldiers. By Virginia Mescher. Posted March - April 2003. In Adobe Acrobat.

Lint and Charpie: It's Not Dryer Lint about making different types of medical line. Posted April - May 2003. In Adobe Acrobat.

Do's and Don'ts for Hot Weather and Refreshing Summer Beverages with hints about surviving the summer reenacting season. Includes receipts for some period beverages. Posted June - August 2003.

What?!? No Chocolate Chip Cookies? about nineteenth century cookies and containing both modern and period receipts. Posted August - October 2003. In Adobe Acrobat.

Halloween and Its Evolution through the Centuries about Halloween practices up through the nineteenth century. Posted October - November 2003.

Thanksgiving as a National Holiday, about thehistory of Thanksgiving and its becoming a national holiday. Posted November - December 2003. In Adobe Acrobat.

Two Christmas Poems, two poems that discuss Christmas, one a Southern view of Christmas and the other a northern poem dealing with the aftermath of Christmas for the children. Posted December 2003. In Adobe Acrobat.

George Washington's Birthday Celebrations, which discusses the ways the holiday was celebrated. Posted February 2004. In AdobeAcrobat.

Traveling Tips for Ladies, contained advice for ladies traveling by steamboat, rail or carriage in the nineteenth century.Posted April 2004. In Adobe Acrobat.

The Case of the Lost Thimble, a discussion ofsewing boxes, baskets, and tools. Posted June 2004. In Adobe Acrobat.

"In a Pickle!: Types of Food Preservation in the 19th Century", a discussion of a variety of food preservation techniques. This details period techniques which modern experience has demonstrated may not be safe. Therefore, it should be used for context and is not an endorsement of any method. Posted October 2004. In Adobe Acrobat.

"The Joys of Christmas: A Look at Christmas Customs and Traditions" which presents writings from period magazines describing the history of many Christmas customs. Posted December 2004

"Pick Up a Good Book: Literacy and Popular Literature of the Civil War" which does a state-by-state examination of literacy rates mentioned in the 1860 census, and identifies some of the popular books of the time period. Posted February 2005.

"THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN ISSUE OF GODEY'S MAGAZINE." which transcribes an item from Godey's Magazine where the publisher, through a humorous narrative, indirectly urged readers to purchase their own copy of the magazine. Posted May 2005

"How Sweet it Is!" which is a modification of an article (complete with glossary of sugar) on sugar that appeared in the August/September 2005 Citizen's Companion. Posted September 2005. NOTE: We're still having some issues with converting the file to pdf and preserving the pictures intact. But the text is there so you can read the article now and see most of the pictures and their captions. We'll fix it as soon as we can.

"Hanging It Up or Not: Clothing Storage in the Nineteenth Century" which is a discussion of how people of the 19th century stored their clothing in the absence of the voluminous closets that we have today. Posted February 2006.

"Visiting and Visiting Cards: Not Just for the Ladies" which covered the type and proper use of visiting cards. Posted July 2006.

"When is a Cup not a Cup? Demystifying Nineteenth Century Measurements and How to Measure Ingredients" which is about the measures you find in period receipts. You will find that the conversions are not consistent! Posted October 2006
To read it requires use of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

"The Mystery of Wet Plate Photographs and Color: Further Investigations". This article discusses the sometimes confusing tones of black and grey that result from chemicals used in wet plate photography that are often directly in conflict with our modern perceptions of black and white photography. For example, when you look at the fabric swatches, you will see that a lemon yellow swatch photographed black with a wet plate yet grey with modern black and white. Other surprising results appear when comparing the images. This phenomenon is not well known but is critical in interpreting period images.

An earlier version of this article appeared in a magazine about ten years ago. The published discussion has been revised and new images have been added which further demonstrate the effects of the photographic processes in comparison with what we would expect from black and white photography.

We are also working on including a "Gallery" with additional comparisons of color vs. wet plate vs. modern black and white images. Included in this gallery are readers' contributed shared images.

Posted March 2007
To read it requires use of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

"Small but Mighty Host: Benefit and Fund Raising Dolls in the Civil War". This article explores the topic of dolls that were sold during the Civil War to raise money for soldiers' aid societies, such as, the Sanitary Commission. It includes pictures of Rose, a fund-raising doll currently owned by the American Red Cross, as well as mention of a modern fund-raising effort which will culminate in November with the raffling of a china doll with all her wardrobe and accessories.

We have also posted a short fictional story that describes the travels of Civility when she came to visit her cousin, Emily (Virginia's doll which is the same size as Civility). They traveled to both Washington City to see the sights and also to a fundraising fair. The trip to Washington City is particularly interesting to see modern views of tourist attractions transformed to their 19th century status.

Both posted August 2007

To read both articles requires use of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Just moved in April 2010, "DISPELLING THE DARKNESS: Types of Candles and the Appropriateness of each for the Mid-19th Century". This article looks at the different types of candles that were available and discusses the history and manufacture of each as well as few candle substitutes. The discussion of types of candles and their appropriateness to historic interpretation may be surprising to the conventional thought in reenacting circles.

Just moved in October 2013, "BEFORE PAPER OR PLASTIC: The Universal Basket". This article provides a comprehensive look at the different types of baskets that were available and discusses baskets' history and manufacture.

The base for this article originally appeared in The Watchdog.

To read the article requires use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you would like to download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free, click here.

This article is Copyrighted 2013 by Virginia Mescher. This article may not be reproduced by any means including printed or electronic, regardless of whether for fee or without charge, without the written permission of its author. This prohibition includes publishing it on a webpage except for small excerpts, appropriately credited.