I love antique photos. You can learn so much about how things have changed, and again how little has. We inherited 3 trunks of photos from the late 1800's to the 1940s and 50's. Most came from an enigmatic, extremely hard working but photo-loving woman named Lena, an ancestor of my husband, born in 1879. She had more contacts, more postcards (several hundreds) and more photos of herself taken than anyone who is not a well know celebrity. She seems to have collected antique photos from all around her. She unfortunately didn't identify many, only writing "Lena" on many given to her. I think she assumed she would remember, and of course after that it wouldn't matter!

We are still sorting through all the stuff trying to piece together Lena's fascinating and sometimes tragic life. Meanwhile, here are a variety of photos, including some of the highest (and lowest!) fashion.

I have also included the very old family photos I have from my mom's side of the family.

I hope you enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Victorian take on "Menstrual Difficulties"

I thought I'd include some scans of original 1900 to 1903 ads-- the first one was the facing page to Lena's diary (see first few posts in this blog.) She, like most young women of the time, took the medical "expertise" in these adds very seriously.  Huge amounts of money and time were spent around different "doctor....'s" advice for "women's  ills.

Lena was watching her weight, and apparently wondering if her symptoms fit.

   Some add were purely INSULTING as seen from today:
Especially the word "exaggeration" shows what the author thought of the seriousness of this subject, except for the purpose of filling his wallet!
But there was little valid medical advice out there. This next ad, while not about menstruation, illustrates a problem we have today: managing the common cold.    I sometimes wonder how many people succumbed to the cure rather than the disease. I guess that unless the seller was a quick escape artist, more usually seen in the traveling tinker types, their product had to be relatively benign so he wouldn't be strung up by women irate with the side effects!
 But you can see how seriously all this is taken by a lady in the last ad (blow-up) who is so happy she now weighs 200 lbs!:


  1. wow this is really cool! love your treasures! I totally would have been tracking my ailments back then!

  2. These old ads sure are something!

    I just wanted to say that I am so glad that I found your blog (from the Etsy forums) -- Although my online crafty life revolved around origami, my personal life revolves around art history (I am working on my PhD in the subject). I've been doing a lot of work these last few months on an American photographer named Arnold Genthe and I've been doing a lot of this -- reading diaries, reading newspapers, and sorting through photographs. It is like a big treasure hunt reconstructing the pieces of history! Anyways -- I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the project. I wish you the best of luck with Lena and I think you found a new reader ;)

  3. Hi! I found your blog on the Etsy forums too :) Those ads are pretty funny... must say I think I sometimes suffer from 'exaggeration' myself at times, he he! Like your stuff...