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resources:everyday_aspects_of_life_in_various_eras

Resources : Everyday Aspects of Life in Various Eras

This page provides resources on a multitude of topics about daily living and working in various periods of human history. It never hurts to try improving the authenticity of your timelines (especially story-driven ones) with some knowledge about the mundane goings on in various human cultures and societies throughout history.

Besides links to online resources, the final section of this page also offers some bibliography on these topics, as well as recommendations for documentary series or films you might want to watch for the visual (hands-on) part of your research.


General info

Food and cuisine

PaleoPlanet Forums - A discussion board for enthusiasts of experimental archeology (mostly focused on prehistoric and/or primitive crafts and tools).

Antique Roman Dishes Collection - Native Roman Ingredients and conversions, as well as recipes.

Roman gums 'healthier than ours'

A Chaucerian Cookery - An examination of the foods found in the writings of the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Included is A Chaucerian Feast, which contains recipes and instructions for presenting a feast based on Chaucer.

On premodern non-occidental cuisines... - A discussion thread with lists of various useful bibliography.

History of Food - The histories of tea, coffee, cheese, chocolate and a compliation of mediveal recipes from a variety of cultures.

Lothene - A Short History of Porridge - A brief history of the traditional Scottish dish from Roman times to the present.

Medieval Cookery & Recipes - Information, and notes about cooking in medieval Europe. Also has an extensive blog, which reviews non-fiction about medieval and early modern cuisine.

Videos on cuisine and daily living in 18th and 19th century North America - Be sure to watch the Food Storage In The 18th Century playlist in particular.

The use of horsetail (scouring rush) for cleaning and polishing purposes

Tips on Tables - Vintage reviews of famous nightclubs and restaurants, mostly from the New York City area, viewed here for the first time since they were published in the 1940s and 50s.


Agriculture, forestry, mining and other resource gathering

Farming in the Middle Ages

Free three volume non-fiction work about potential plant domestications in Africa (that never were)

Environment, agriculture and settlement patterns in a marginal Polynesian landscape

Maori Agriculture - An article from the Journal for the Polynesian Society.

Article with in-depth examples of traditional aquaculture from around the world

Japanese Wine Industry

Multi-Use Management of the Medieval Anglo-Norman Forest - Forestry in medieval England. Article in downloadable .pdf format.

The Medieval Forest - The medieval history of woods and forestry in the modern day New Forest National Park in Wales. Article in downloadable .pdf format.

Forests in the olden days by Lindybeige - Some notes on the appearance of forests, on forestry and economic use of forests throughout different periods of history.

Pollarding and Coppicing - Two common historical forestry and wood management practices.

How to Make Otzi The Iceman Gear and Primitive Archery Hunting Videos - Video playlists on Neolithic archery and making Neolithic archery and hunting gear.

Horse breeds of the world

The Economics of Horses and Oxen in Medieval England - Article by John Langdon for The Agricultural History Review. Available for download in .pdf format.


Old crafts and industries

PaleoPlanet Forums - A discussion board for enthusiasts of experimental archeology (mostly focused on prehistoric and/or primitive crafts and tools).

African steel making - An article and a podcast episode on the subject.

Index of old occupations (with definitions)

Occupations of Yesteryear - Similar to the previous link.

Biographical Dictionary of Organists, Composers for Organ and Organ Builders - This site list biographical detail for organists, composers and organ builders. It includes birth and death details, places they have worked (lived) etc. Note quite a lot of these people were also teachers; the entries are world wide.

British & Irish Clock and Watch Makers (c1600-c1940) - Online Archive Library, Trade Directory Lists.

Medieval material culture links site

A point about cloaks... by Lindybeige - Notes on the advantages and disadvantages of cloaks as part of clothing in older eras.

Library of House Greydragon - A mutltide of articles on period clothing, cooking, dining, and even entertainment.

Laptops of the Ancient World by Lindybeige - Notes on how wax-filled writing tablets were manufactured and used during Antiquity.

How to make a medieval lantern

How to Shop for the Revolutionary War - Old crafts in the civilian and military life of 18th century North America.


Economy and trade

How did they keep track of dates before Christ ?

Medieval professions and jobs - Detailed overview at Deutschland im Mittelalter.de, in German.

Overview of modern day exports and imports between countries and territories of the world - Includes options to view the net exports and net imports as well. Currently has statistics covering all known exports and imports during the 1995-2010 period.

European Route of Industrial Heritage


Housing and social infrastructure

Life in a medieval castle - Brief account of daily life in a Medieval Castle. Touches on such aspects as religion, hygiene and water.

Guédelon.fr - Guédelon Castle project. The only authentic medieval castle under construction today, in France, using only period (13th century) materials and methods. Possibly the biggest experimental archaeology site in the world. Construction has been ongoing since 1997, and the castle is to be completed at some point in the 2020s.

Campus Galli - Guédelon's German cousin, an experimental archaeology project aiming to recreate a Carolingian era monastic community, at a rural building site near Meßkirch, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Medieval Life - Everyday life during medieval times. A description of the history, literature, chivalry, commerce, customs, food and life of people living in Europe, Asia and Africa during the Middle Ages.

Why were early medieval buildings round ? - An informative video on a frequent construction style of housing from antiquity and the early medieval period.

Why do medieval buildings overhang their lower floors ? - An informative video on a frequent construction style of medieval housing.

Good Books on Medieval Cities ?

Medieval Clothing - Medieval costume. Men's clothing, women's clothing, children's clothing, sanitary napkins, diapers, wool, linen, silk, leather, fur, etc.

Vintage Projects - Neat website with a whole bunch of designs and schematics for everything from forges to playground equipment.

A point about torches... by Lindybeige - Debunking common misconceptions about the use and handling of torches and other light sources in antiquity, the Middle Ages and the early modern era.

A point about lighting fires... by Lindybeige - Notes on how and when fires were lit or kept burning during Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

A point about ancient houses... by Lindybeige - Some notes on housing in towns and cities during Antiquity.

Some points about mud bricks... by Lindybeige - Notes on the properties, uses and geographic range of mud bricks as a building material.

FlashlightMuseum.com - A database of various historical flashlights/torches throghout the years, from the late 19th century to recent history.

List of open-air museums and period living museums

Historic house museums by country

Association of European Open Air Museums (AEOM)


Healthcare and medical science

Weights of an Apothecary - A resource site for the antique weights formerly used by apothecaries, chemists, druggists and pharmacists. Most British weights of the 19th and 20th centuries illustrated and described. A forum for exchange of information and discussion.

Scientific Medical & Mechanical Antiques - Complete articles are posted from the journal, American Artifacts, on early microscope makers, hand corn shellers, early surveying instruments, a variety of quack medical devices, as well as information on early patents.

Scales and Weights - A collection of all types of historical scales and weights from different periods of the past 3000 years.

Alchemical and archaic chemistry terms - Glossary useful for adding historically authentic terms to any plot involving alchemists, mages and so on. Please note that the overview is spread across two pages, A-K and L-Z.

Phisick - Presents a collection of medical antiques grouped by specialty, with photographs and descriptions of each item.

The actual state of hygiene in the Middle Ages

Medieval Diseases

The Gross 18th Century: Calling bullshit on hygiene myths

Eye Antiques and Collectibles - Eye antiques display items from the ophthalmic past including glasses spectacles, ophthalmoscopes, microscopes, and eye exam items.

American & Civil War Surgical Amputation Sets - Information and photos of American made surgical and amputation sets made between 1800 and 1870. Detailed data on Civil War surgical sets as well as advice on how to collect and price medical antiques.

19th-Century Maps Tracking Major Diseases Across the United States

The Medical Humanities SIU PRESS series - Bibliographic overview of the non-fiction book series of medical history monographs.


Sociology and Customs

Children of Roman Men and Female Slaves - A discussion, plus some recommended sources on the topic.

German medieval songs - Period songs for different occasions. Includes complete lyrics.

Victorian Slang Glossary

University teachers and teaching in Victorian Britain

Did the past smell like cigarettes?


Clothing, Garments and Footwear

Bibliography and Documentaries

Literature, articles and television documentaries on topics of period living, period housing, period crafts and period economies. Stuff not already covered in the online sources listed above.

a.) Bibliography

Rentzhog S. (eng. transl. Airey, S. V.), Open Air Museums: The History and Future of a Visionary Idea, Carlssons Bokförlag (Stockholm) and Jamtli Förlag (Östersund), Sweden, 1st edition 2007, hardcover, ISBN 978-91-7948-208-4 - A comprehensive book on the history and development of open-air museums and their depictions of housing, work and life in previous historical periods.

Bryson B., At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Doubleday (London), UK, 1st edition 2010, hardcover/softcover/e-book, 536 p., ISBN 978-0-385-60827-5 - In the words of the author, “homes are not a refuge from history, they're where history ends up”. The author goes through his house room by room and discusses the reasons why they are like they are. For example, why do we have salt and pepper on the kitchen table ? Why not salt and cumin ? He then delves into the historical reasons for this. It focuses mostly on Britain with a bit of America thrown in too.

Peachey S., The Building of The Green Valley: A Reconstruction of an Early 17th Century Rural Landscape, Stuart Press & Heritage Publications, UK, 1st edition 2006, 2nd edition 2010, paperback, 210 p., ISBN-13: 978-1905223138 ISBN-10: 1905223137

b.) Documentary films and series

Sorted chronologically by the period they cover (if applicable).

Programme name Period Topics Production / Broadcaster Year Episodes Ep lenghth
The Worst Jobs in History Roman era to present day Particularly difficult or unpleasant historical occupations Spire Productions & Channel Four 2004, 2006 12 60 min.
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives Middle Ages Debunking myths and clichés about eight different social roles/occupations of the medieval period Oxford Film and Television Production & BBC Two 2004 8 30 min.
Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death Middle Ages About the significance of a person's birth, marriage and death in the context of medieval culture and society and the rituals surrounding them BBC Scotland & Matchlight 2013 3 177 min. (total)
Secrets of the Castle… High Middle Ages, 13th century Castle construction and maintenance Lion Television & BBC Two 2014 5 60 min.
Tudor Monastery Farm Early Tudor era, 1510s Farming, housing, crafts, mining, trade Lion Television & BBC Two 2013 7 30 min.
A Tudor Feast at Christmas Tudor era, 16th century Christmas feasts of the nobility Lion Television & BBC Two 2006 1 60 min.
Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home Tudor era Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Tudor period Modern Television & BBC Four 2015 1 60 min.
Tales from the Green Valley Stuart era, 1620s Farming and housing Lion Television & BBC Two / BBC Cymru Wales 2005 12 28-30 min.
The Victorian Kitchen Garden Victorian era, 19th century Gardening, cooking and housing BBC & BBC Two 1987 13 30 min.
The Victorian Kitchen Victorian era, 19th century Cooking and housing BBC & BBC Two 1989 8 30 min.
The Victorian Flower Garden Victorian era, 19th century Gardening and horticulture BBC & BBC Two 1991 8 30 min.
Victorian Farm Late Victorian era, 1880s Farming, housing, crafts, celebrations Lion Television & BBC Two 2009 9 60 min.
Victorian Pharmacy Victorian era, 1840s-1890s Pharmacology and drugstore history Lion Television & BBC Two 2010 4 60 min.
Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home Victorian era, 1840s-1890s Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Victorian period Modern Television, BBC Wales & BBC Four 2013 2 60 min.
Full Steam Ahead Victorian era Railway history and steam power Lion Television & BBC Two 2016 6 60 min.
Edwardian Farm Edwardian era, 1900-1914 Farming, fishing, housing, crafts, mining, trade, tourism Lion Television & BBC Two 2010-2011 12 60 min.
Hidden Killers of the Edwardian Home Edwardian era, 1900-1914 Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Edwardian period Modern Television & BBC Four 2013 1 60 min.
The Wartime Kitchen and Garden WWII UK, 1939-1945 Gardening, cooking and housing BBC & BBC Two 1993 8 30 min.
Wartime Farm WWII UK, 1939-1945 Farming, housing, crafts, mining, trade, civil defence Lion Television & BBC Two 2012 13 60 min.
Hidden Killers of the Post-War Home Post-WWII era, 1950s-1960s Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the post-WWII period Modern Television & BBC Four 2016 1 60 min.

See Also

resources/everyday_aspects_of_life_in_various_eras.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/26 12:08 by petike