Author Topic: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...  (Read 1327 times)

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Thipu1

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...who were taking a steamship from the Eastern United State to Europe in the 1880s. 

I know this sounds like a hoax but it isn't.  While looking for something else I found this in a bound volume of the 'Ladies' Home Journal'.  Here are some of the things these young women were advised to do:

1)  As soon as you get on board wrap your good hat in brown paper and hang it on a hook in your cabin.  Salt air will badly affect the feathers.

2)  Be sure to wear your oldest and darkest dress on board for a ship is a very dirty place.  At dinner, you can expect that gravy and soup will fall into your skirts.  On deck, you will invariably brush up against tarred ropes.

3)  Make sure that you have a small bag of necessities secured right over the head of your bed.  This bag should include comb, brush, hand-mirror, hairpins, watch and basic jewelery.  There will be times during the crossing that you will feel almost too ill to raise your head from the pillow.  All these things may prove a great comfort.

4)  The place where your cabin is located may be inside and somewhat airless.  If you wish to go out on deck.  Be sure to wear stout shoes, woolen petticoats and an old, dark, warm coat.  You will also want a scarf to put over your small hat and shawls to wrap around your skirts to keep the wind from catching them. 

5)  A prudent young woman will bring aboard the following:

a)  A few good books for the ship's library is almost always lacking in both quantity and quality.

b)  Some bottles of good whiskey or brandy and a few lemons.  It is also prudent to bring aboard a few small bottles of champagne for, when the sea becomes extremely rough, sometimes the only thing the stomach will retain is iced champagne.

c)  It is a good thing to bring some medications.  A box of French pills, a good medicine for diahoreah,(sic) and a box of prunes.

6)  Be sure to book passage on a ship that has a 'dry deck'.  This ensures that you will able to get exercise and fresh air without the unpleasantness of water washing around your feet.

 




           

   

Stanwyck

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 05:15:59 PM »
Even though sea travel has changed quite a bit in the past 130-ish years, one thing remains the same - ships' libraries are still inadequate!

My favorite is 5b.  Not only will the lemons keep you from getting scurvy, they can be mixed with the whiskey for a tasty beverage!  Of course, Champagne is always appropriate, even when not seasick. ;D

Quote
It is a good thing to bring some medications.  A box of French pills, a good medicine for diahoreah,(sic) and a box of prunes.
What are French pills?  Aspirin? Laudanum? Alka Seltzer?  ???

Lisbeth

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 05:36:35 PM »
I think that for the 1880s that actually wasn't bad advice.
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Thipu1

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 05:43:24 PM »
There are many interpretations of 'French Pills' 

Often they are mentioned in small adverts found in the back of women's magazines of the time as 'the Lady's friend'.  It's hard to say what they were.  Some may have been a 19th Century version of Midol.  Others may have been considered an abortificant.  We won't go there.

magicdomino

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 05:54:34 PM »
#2 reminds me of old advice for ladies going on train rides lasting several days.  They were advised to wear their worst dress because, by the time they arrived at their destination, the dress would be so filthy from soot, grease, sweat, manure, and tobacco spit that the owner would want to throw it away.

Dindrane

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 06:40:50 PM »
And here is my version of this, edited to reflect modern day sensibilities and methods of travel. :)

1) (I don't have an equivalent for the "good hat," but it is generally good advice to carefully secure one's possessions and protect them from damage. ;))

2) Be sure to wear dark, comfortable clothing.  If you make it through a flight without spilling something on yourself, you are a better woman than I.  If you are lucky, it will only be your complimentary beverage.

3) Make sure you have a small bag of necessities in your purse that you can remove and put in the seat-pocket in front of you.  This should include lotion, painkillers, a watch, a book, and the music player of your choice.  There will be times during the flight where you desperately need one or more these things, but cannot reach your purse without unbuckling your seat belt.  Having them close will be a great comfort.

4) The airplane is likely to be quite chilly.  If you are likely to be too cold, be sure to travel with thick socks, a warm sweater, and a shawl or scarf to rest on your lap.  All of these items should be sturdy and dark (see point number 2).

5) A prudent young woman will always bring the following:
   a) a few good books, because being forced to read fashion magazines for several hours could prove your undoing, and the on-flight magazine is both last month's and rather dull besides,
   b) a bottle for water and some Dramamine, in case there is unexpected turbulence,
   c) appropriate medications, such as pain killers and the aforementioned Dramamine.

6) Be sure to reserve an aisle seat.  This way, you will be able to use the facilities and have an excuse to stretch your legs without crawling over your fellow passengers.

In other words, with a few minor exceptions, it seems like pretty good advice for long-haul ocean travel. :)  But it is definitely amusing to look at what was once sage advice, and have to puzzle out why exactly it made so much sense!


Thipu1

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 06:49:30 PM »
Even though sea travel has changed quite a bit in the past 130-ish years, one thing remains the same - ships' libraries are still inadequate!

Yes,  Stanwyck.  Ship Libraries can be dismal. 

Mr. Thipu and I always bring aboard books we want to read again but not necessarily keep.  I usually bring a book of fiction and one of non-fiction.  Mr. Thipu does something similar.  We also bring aboard several recent good magazines (such as Scientific American, Harper's or the Atlantic) that we intend to leave at the paperback exchange. 

There have been times when I've found excellent books at the paperback exchange.  More often, the books left have been romances of the least interesting sort.   

   

The Opinionator

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2011, 07:27:59 PM »
Here's an ad for French pills:



To eulogize their virtues would not add to their merits. ;)
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

M-theory

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2011, 07:36:40 PM »
Huh. I bet whatever was in them is considered carcinogenic or otherwise a no-no now. They make it sound like BCP, but I don't think they had figured out hormones back then. Maybe there's some plant that mimicks progesterone or androgen.

rashea

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2011, 07:52:56 PM »
Huh. I bet whatever was in them is considered carcinogenic or otherwise a no-no now. They make it sound like BCP, but I don't think they had figured out hormones back then. Maybe there's some plant that mimicks progesterone or androgen.

There are several plants that will cause a miscarriage (or abortion depending on your linguistics).
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M-theory

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2011, 09:24:29 PM »
Huh. I bet whatever was in them is considered carcinogenic or otherwise a no-no now. They make it sound like BCP, but I don't think they had figured out hormones back then. Maybe there's some plant that mimicks progesterone or androgen.

There are several plants that will cause a miscarriage (or abortion depending on your linguistics).

Yeah, but it also mentions cycle regulation.

kareng57

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2011, 09:53:57 PM »
Huh. I bet whatever was in them is considered carcinogenic or otherwise a no-no now. They make it sound like BCP, but I don't think they had figured out hormones back then. Maybe there's some plant that mimicks progesterone or androgen.

There are several plants that will cause a miscarriage (or abortion depending on your linguistics).

Yeah, but it also mentions cycle regulation.


Well, that was how similar preparations were marketed at the time.  I think we'd best leave it at that, we don't want to get the thread locked.

Overall though I think most of the advice was appropriate for the time.  Most of us tend to think of 19th century travel as being either luxury or steerage, but there was still a lot of second-class travel; my assumption would be that this advice was for second-class women.  While the voyage might not have been an endurance test, it was likely less than pleasant.  And these women would not have had a maid along to take care of their clothes, as a first class passenger likely would.

Thipu1

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 12:31:14 PM »
#2 reminds me of old advice for ladies going on train rides lasting several days.  They were advised to wear their worst dress because, by the time they arrived at their destination, the dress would be so filthy from soot, grease, sweat, manure, and tobacco spit that the owner would want to throw it away.

Dear Magicdomino, your post reminds me of an advertising campaign that the Delaware, Lackawana and Western Railroad used in the late 19th and very early 20th century.  The line prided itself on using only hard coal.  Their spokesperson was a beautiful young woman of the Gibson Girl sort.  Her name was Phoebe Snow.  She was always seen wearing pristine white clothing with a purple corsage.   

One ad I remember shows her in a parlor car with another young woman.  Phoebe's friend is waxing eloquent,

"Oh, Phoebe!  Now I know just why
 the virtue of this line you cry!
My gloves are white
As when last night
We took the Road of anthracite"     

mechtilde

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2011, 01:44:28 PM »
A large part of the reason why ships of the time were so horribly uncomfortable was that they had reciprocating engines, which vibtrated horribly. The staem turbine wasn't invented until 1884 (thanks Mr Parsons...)

It wasn't until the early 20th century that passanger ships were fitted with turbine engines.

By 1906 the Mauretania had steam turbine engines, and was a floating palace- believe me, you would be wearing you best dress(es) when you sailed on her!
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lady_disdain

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Re: SO of 'Fantastic Advice" How to Go Abroad. Advice for Young Women...
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2011, 03:16:45 PM »
Huh. I bet whatever was in them is considered carcinogenic or otherwise a no-no now. They make it sound like BCP, but I don't think they had figured out hormones back then. Maybe there's some plant that mimicks progesterone or androgen.

There are several plants that will cause a miscarriage (or abortion depending on your linguistics).

Yeah, but it also mentions cycle regulation.


Well, that was how similar preparations were marketed at the time.  I think we'd best leave it at that, we don't want to get the thread locked.

Overall though I think most of the advice was appropriate for the time.  Most of us tend to think of 19th century travel as being either luxury or steerage, but there was still a lot of second-class travel; my assumption would be that this advice was for second-class women.  While the voyage might not have been an endurance test, it was likely less than pleasant.  And these women would not have had a maid along to take care of their clothes, as a first class passenger likely would.

And it was specially important for the second class lady to distance herself from steerage and keep her image as a "lady" (even if somewhat impoverished). Rather like the governess (who has to keep her image closer to her employers than other servants) or a middle class wife.