Friday, March 3, 2017

Spring Cleaning, Victorian Style...the wallpaper?

I remember my great-grandmother's fancy front room wallpaper. She called that room the parlor, which I always thought was stuffy and old-fashioned. Now, I wish I'd asked that great grandmother a zillion more questions. She was married just after 1900, was born near 1880, and lived so much of what I write about. To think about actually conducting "Spring Cleaning" the way my great-grandmother and her mother did is both fascinating...and exhausting just to think about.

As Kit Morgan posted about yesterday, Victorian Americans cooked over wood-burning (or coal-burning) stoves. They heated their homes with coal-burning furnaces (or oil-burning stoves or wood-burning stoves)...and all that fire left soot in the air outside, and a dusky smudge all over, inside.

Spring Cleaning, in the late Victorian era, involved cleaning the wallpaper to remove all that dark smudging.

Burlington Republican of Burlington, Kansas, on July 12, 1888.
Alabama Beacon of Greensboro, Alabama, on June 21, 1887.
Nemaha County Republican of Sabetha, Kansas, on February 6, 1892.
Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1897.
While the tools used for cleaning wallpaper changed over the last decades of the 19th century, the chore remained a lot of work. I imagine housekeepers and homemakers felt a good deal of satisfaction when the wallpaper was bright and the chore completed for another year.

What jobs are on your Spring Cleaning to-do list?

Hi! I'm Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author.
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down) about the nineteenth century American West–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Romance Reads, Sweet Americana Sweethearts, and Romancing the Genres.

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.

Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC


  1. Now I know why my great grandmother didn't have wallpaper. I know it is beautiful, but. Even after they got a furnace, she still didn't have wallpaper. Now I know why. Fascinating. Doris

    1. Thanks, Doris! I see you enjoy learning historical tidbits as much as I do! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. That was a great post Kristin. Very interesting!