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Daily Life In The 1800s
Transcript of Daily Life In The 1800s
Before the Victorian era (1837-1901), sometimes children at the age of 6 would work in a mill or factory! They might also run errands or make deliveries for a shopkeeper. They may also be an apprentice to a skilled craftsman or woman. Another thing they could do is be hired as a servant! Imagine that! Many children worked on farms alongside grown-ups in rural (countryside, not cities) parts of a country. Their work day would start just before the sun came up.
Women were taught to be professional child-carers and girls were taught many housecrafts. Women did not get very much chance to go outside. A popular phrase was: 'The women's place is in the home'. Few women still worked after marriage. The percentage of all women actively working outside the home was 17-18%! Women of the 1800s were starting to demand more equal rights. Before the 1800s, women were expected to stay at home, raise children and keep a clean house. It wasn't until the 1860s that women began to work outside of their homes. Before that only unmarried women worked, and they were usually teachers be profession, but when the women did begin to work, there were restrictions to prevent them from holding the equal positions to men. There were also limitations on how long their work day could be, controls on how much weight a woman could lift while on the job, and they certainly couldn't hold the highly respected positions that men held. In the 1800s mothers also had to sew their family's clothes!
The father would make all the decisions about and for the children and he had complete control of his children too. In the 1800s, because of the large immigrant population coming to NZ, there were a lot more men than women in the country. That caused many men in NZ to be single. Many of these single men were interested in shearing, farmwork, milling timber, mining or public works such as creating roads, building things and so on. Lots of men built houses using natural materials and created a male community and society (these were called shanties). In the evenings, after a full day of work, they told stories, played cards and read, all by candlelight. They prided themselves in working extraordinarily hard and not stealing from one another and they looked after mates who were sick, injured or didn't have a job.
Washing day was a specific day where all they did was wash and clean clothes. You might wonder, "How many clothes did they have then?" Well, everyone usually had 2 outfits, one for church and a casual one for everyday things. Washing day was on Monday, if the weather was good enough. Many people did the washing outside. Some families used river water for washing if they lived nearby. They kept their clean tank water for drinking. Doing the washing was very tiring and could take the all day. Back then, clothes were washed in tin bins and when the water had been gathered, it would be set to boil before they could use it.
Water was extremely hard to find. Each household had a different way of finding it and had to find it on their own and not for other families. Some people used streams, or dug a well, but usually rain water was collected from the roof and ran into a corrugated iron tank. In summer, people often ran short of water. There was no water for baths, so they would save every single drop. Dirty water was poured on vegetables in the garden. When there was enough water, the whole family bathed once a week and they all used the same water. Early houses didn't have bathrooms, so men washed their hands and face outside, usually in cold water and the basin stood on a wooden box or a tree stump. Women washed in the bedroom or kitchen, using a jug and basin. For most things, water was collected from a creek or well.
Boys tasks would include cutting, splitting or carrying firewood for the stove or fireplace, working in the gardens, fields, orchards, hunting, trapping or fishing to provide food for their family, tending to farm animals, carrying water to the house, putting up or repairing fences and chimney sweeping.
Boys from the age of 6 would attend
to those tasks!
Here are some young boys working!
Girls would fill their days with cooking, milking cows and/or goats, collecting eggs, churning butter, making breads and cheeses, preserving foods, cleaning, doing laundry, making candles, sewing clothes for family, preparing fibers like wool and flax to spin and weave, caring for younger siblings and helping elderly family members.
All little girls were taught to sew before
they even went to school! They would
get a sewing basket as a Christmas or
birthday present. They might be allowed
to make clothes for a doll, but the first
thing they would sew was a hemmed
handkerchief. Girls also learned how to
do embroidery or 'fancy work'.
Before the invention of electricity, people used sunlight coming through windows, candles, and fires in the fireplace to provide them with light for their homes. It wasn't until 1827 that matches were invented, so before that it was very difficult to get a fire going. If a fire went out, people would have to travel to neighbours to restart it because the fire kept homes warm, provided light and allowed people to cook meals.
Bathing a newborn was not at all easy either. Instead of just filling a plastic tub like we have nowadays, water had to be collected from a creek or well, it was then brought to the fire to boil, after that it cooled before bathtime could begin.
Travelling was harder to do in the 1800s than now because in the 1800s there were no cars and the bikes were more difficult to ride than nowadays. Travelling to neighbours wasn't the easiest task either because people then had large amounts of land to keep cattle and from that cattle they could get food. Remember, they didn't have cars yet!
Children learned to read, write and do maths at home or in a simple one room schoolhouse, where there was one (strict) teacher for all of the year groups. The teacher could be at the age of 14 or 15! The schoolhouse was usually set up with the teacher's desk on one end of the room, and a wood stove on the other, with students desks between the two. Lots of children had to walk about 2-3 miles (around four km)! They would carry a slate, a book or two and a packed lunch. A few children would even have to carry firewood to school for the wood stove!
On lots of farms, meat was usually eaten at least three times a day : bacon, chops or offal for breakfast, sausages or cold meat for lunch and roasts or stews for dinner.
Sheep's meat- New Zealanders have thought of themselves as sheep-meat eaters for a long time. Until the middle of the 20th century, hogget (1-2 year old sheep) and mutton (older sheep) was eaten more than lamb. Lamb became popular in the 1970s.
Chicken- Chicken was formerly (earlier) a special occasion meat and before the 1950s chickens that were for sale were mostly cockerel or hens whose egg-laying days were over.
Pork- Pork was thought of as a special occasions meat, especially after the price began to rise. Bacon and sausages were cheaper forms of pig meat/pork.
Dairy products such as milk and butter were often made at home, especially people that had cows did it.
In the late 1800s, butter was more often swapped in local stores for other food or farm tools. The shopkeeper/storekeeper then sold the butter. Dairy products added protein and fat to the limited settlers diet of bread, meat, some fish, and a few fruits and vegetables. Butter, cheese and yoghurt stayed fresh and edible a lot longer than raw milk or cream. The first dairy factories in New Zealand were in Taranaki and Waikato, they were built in the 1880s to process whole milk (milk that has more fat than other milk). Farmers took their milk to the local factories in metal cans on horseback, the local factory became a place for them to gather and chat.
In the early 1880s, the most successful dairy factories were ones that made both butter and cheese. Twenty factories had been built by 1884 and at first they used traditional farmhouse methods.
Butter was often churned at home, and when it was, children sang this song: Come butter come, (name) stands at the gate, waiting for some butter cake, come butter come.
Sweets/lollies were made cheaper in the 1800s.
In 1847 the first chocolate bar was made and in 1875 milk chocolate was invented. Marshmallows were also invented in the 1850s. Toffee was invented in the early 1800s too. Jelly beans were another candy that was invented in the 1800s.
In the 1800s, only wealthy and rich people got lollies, and if they ever did, it was hardly any, about 1-3 lollies each person.
In the 1800s, a new type of kumara was discovered and introduced. In the 1830s Maori plantations of potatoes and wheat kept the early European settlers well supplied. Many people used a section of their property to start up a vegetable patch/garden with these veges: cabbage, carrots, onions, cauliflower, beetroot, peas, broad beans and green beans.
Commonly grown 1800s fruit included apples, pears, plums and peaches. Later on, apples tended to be the most popular fruit eaten, followed by bananas and oranges.
Acrostic Poem 1800s
Young children worked
Limitations for women working
Errands harder to do
Era was Victorian
Interesting jobs for men
Girls taught to sew
Two hundred years ago
Education was stricter
Neighbours were far apart
Usually small homes
Day for washing separate
Reading done at school
Embroidery made by little girls
Deliveries for shopkeepers done by kids