The Social Historian

By Barbara J Starmans | The Social Historian is a longform story website featuring social history themed articles from across the centuries and around the world.

Help Wanted: Sobriety, Diligence and Honesty Required

Like us, our ancestors, unless they were independently wealthy, had to work to put food on the table and to keep a roof over their heads. For our …

Part Three: 129 Claimants Battle for Thomas Henry Blythes Estate

The death of Thomas Henry Blythe in his sixtieth year sparked a battle in the probate courts that would last for many years. The trial itself would …

Part Two: 129 Claimants Battle for Thomas Henry Blythes Estate

When <b>Thomas Henry</b> <b>Blythe</b>, a millionaire real estate tycoon from San Francisco died in 1883, no will was found among his possessions. His past was …

Tynewydd Colliery Flood of 1877

Murder or Accident?

The charred and headless body of David Scollie was found in the ruins of a fire that took place on 23 February 1894 on a dark and stormy night. His …

Crime

Great Fire of 1922

In Northern Ontario, the unusually hot and dry conditions that had prevailed throughout the summer of 1922 continued unabated into the autumn. …

Ontario

Waifs and Strays

Winner of Rogue or Angel? Contest<p>Congratulations to reader <b>Heather Milnes</b>, winner of The Social Historian’s <b>Rogue or Angel? Contest</b> for the story of …

Canada

Leisure in Historical Britain

Over the generations, the ways in which our ancestors enjoyed their leisure hours slowly changed. Not only did the activities become less localized, …

Massarti, The Lion Tamer

On Wednesday, 3 January 1872, Thomas Macarte gave his last performance as <i>Massarti the Lion Tamer</i> in front of a horrified crowd of about 500 people at …

The Women Went to Work

While there is no doubt in my mind that our earliest female ancestors worked, and worked very hard, their choices for paid employment were few. Young …

The Juice of the Poppy

In the mid-nineteenth century, although officially part of British North America, British Columbia was a wilderness territory, effectively run by the …

Homesteading in Northern Ontario

<i>By 1931, over 22% of the population of Canada were immigrants. George and Annie Brown were among those who left England for Canada in the early</i> …

File Grinders of Sheffield

HAMMER AND FILE GRINDER Wanted, a steady, good WORKMAN. –Apply Monday afternoon, ROBERT RENTON, Yorkshire Hammer and File Works, Napier street. The …

Women and the Victorian Regiment

There are a good many young women who seem to think that to ‘keep company’ with, and afterwards to marry, a soldier is the acme of bliss. Yet there …

Sheffield Flood of 1864

On 11 March 1864, just before midnight, the Dale Dyke Dam collapsed and a great flood surged through parts of Sheffield in Yorkshire, causing …

Shining Sand and Sealing Wax and Other Fancy Stuff

On 11 July 1778, W. Jackson, the proprietor of a store in High Street, advertised his wares in the Oxford Journal including a fine selection of …

Smallpox

One of our ancestor’s greatest fears was the highly contagious smallpox, a disease that has thankfully been considered to be eradicated from the …

Great Toronto Fire 1904

Just after eight o’clock on the evening of 9 April 1904, a policeman walking his beat in the cold and snowy Toronto night saw flames shooting from …

The Ill-fated Sultana

Long before the Europeans came to North America, the Mississippi River was used by the native people to travel from one place to another and to …

Toronto in the Beginning

The province of Upper Canada, now Ontario, was created by the Parliament of Great Britain in 1791 as part of the Constitutional Act of 1791. The Act …

Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878

The fever is steadily abating in the city as it is increasing in the suburbs. Only eighty-two new cases were reported yesterday by the Howard …

Royal Mail History

1635<p>When Charles I first introduced public mail service in 1635, letters were carried from one ‘post’ to the next ‘post’ by carriers on foot or on …

Boy Soldiers of WW1

I have examined the above named Recruit and find that he does not present any of the causes of rejection specified in the Regulations for Army …

Patent Medicines

Patent medicines are not, as the name would suggest, medicines that have been patented but rather they are commercial products containing ‘secret …

The Journals of Thomas Thistlewood

Thomas Thistlewood inherited £200 sterling on the death of his father Robert in 1727 when he was but six years old although the bulk of the …

Spanish Influenza of 1918

Some believe that the Spanish Influenza of 1918 had its beginnings in the Far East, perhaps China, while others have suggested that it originated in …

Frank Rock Slide, Alberta

Nestled into the side of Turtle Mountain in the Crowsnest Pass area of the Albert District of the Northwest Territories of Canada, the small town of …

Ticonderoga

In July of 1851, Victoria’s first gold rush began and before the end of the year, gold fever had spread across Australia and beyond. Workers on …

Victorian Etiquette

Etiquette for Ladies<p>Victorian ladies should consider the introduction of one acquaintance to another a matter of serious responsibility. When …