Misconceptions of Your Victorian Female Ancestors



Your Victorian era female ancestors most likely were your 2nd great grandmothers – born the late 1820s into the 1830s and many lived into the1890s to 1920s.

Whenever the phrase Victorian ancestors, especially the females, there are many misconceptions surfacing. They were thought of as ‘straight-lace’, second class citizens, kept to a proper code of conduct and married very young.

Well, this is where you really do need to examine and research not only about what life was like for your Victorian era female ancestors but also give up some of these misconceptions.

The Victorian era was the 63-year reign of England’s Queen Victoria – 1837 to 1901. But not just in England, in the United States and British colonies and territories such as Canada, the Victorian era practices were followed – just not strictly.

Some examples include: the wealthy ladies felt fashion was highly important because dress indicated their role in society. Women also wore a variety of colors for their stockings and dresses. However, the idea that young ladies lacing themselves into corsets drawn up as tight as their maids could make them is a bit misleading. While the Victorian era did feature fashions that emphasized a tiny waist only achievable through the careful application of whalebone and ribbon, most women, including your ancestors, wore their daily corsets with a healthy dose of moderation. Also, at the time, corsets weren’t simply a fashion statement: They were actually thought to encourage good, healthful posture and to keep the internal organs in proper alignment. The extreme practice of removing human ribs to slim the waist, rumored to have flourished in the Victorian era, simply didn’t exist.

There was the misconception that girls married while in their late teens. In truth, most females married between ages 22 to 26 years.

Yes, the ladies did not have the right to vote and even own property but there were exceptions. They could inherit property and many women were great business ladies.

Young ladies were not always dressed in pink colored dresses. In fact it was lighter shades of blue for the girls and then darker browns and black later in life.

Get to know your 2nd great grandmothers – or at least make sure you have them on your family tree. Get to know each ones, they could have a fascinating story.

Photos: Ladies of the 1850s; Savilla Sherman Musselman and son 1869 and ladies of the 1880s.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Tuberculosis and Victorian Fashions

Cleaning Just Like the Victorians

Your Great Grandparents Did What?

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.