Victorian Fashion: Bicycles, Bloomers and Suffrage

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

So declared Susan Brownell Anthony, social reformer and women’s rights activist, in 1898. For hundreds of years women had been dependent on a man to take them wherever they needed or wanted to go. Suddenly, with a little practice on the new-fangled two-wheeled machine, they were free to go wherever and whenever they pleased. It truly was liberating!

Young and old alike, women were discovering the joys of bicycling. At the age of fifty-three, following her mother’s death, Frances Willard – activist, social reformer, suffragist and one of the founding members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union – decided she had new worlds to conquer. She would learn to ride a bicycle.

The rest of the story (plus all the controversies and perceived detriments to women’s health – what exactly was “bicycle face“!?!) can be found in the June issue of Digging History MagazineSubscriptions are also available (month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1 year) — easy to subscribe and receive an issue every month in your inbox (60-70 pages of colorful graphics, history and genealogy focused articles and virtually ad free.  In other words, just history!).


Keywords: Amelia Bloomer, bicycle face, bloomers,Digging History Magazine,Frances Willard, safety bicycle, Susan B. Anthony, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, women’s suffrage, bloomerism. Mary Gove Nichols, Victorian fashion, Victorian dress reform, Dr. Mary E. Walker, wheelwoman, flopping skirts, scorchers, bicycle scorchers


Road-Tripping Across America (with everything but the kitchen sink!)

The June issue of Digging History Magazine features stories on road-tripping (as it’s called today).  These road trips, however, were a far cry from the ones we take today.  The early ones took weeks to cross America from coast-to-coast — shovels, shotguns and lots of patience were required!  Automobile races had been around for awhile and another one — possibly the most audacious of all — was to take place in the dead of winter.  This one would begin in New York and end in Paris, via Alaska and Siberia.  It’s been called The Great Race of 1908.

Yet, when J.M. Murdock decided to drive his family home to Johnstown, Pennsylvania from Pasadena, California in 1908 his hometown newspaper thought the Murdock trip could very well exceed interest for the planned race around the world later that year.  By the time the Murdock family had packed their car it was a good thing the maps were of the vest-pocket size, as they likely couldn’t have fit one more thing.  The description of what they took along on their trip reminds one of the I Love Lucy episode when the Ricardos and Mertzes were headed to California.  The article, entitled “Rolling Along in an Automobile:  America’s Love Affair with the Road Trip”, traces the history of family road trips, including early travelers hitting the road with their new-fangled machines and “everything but the kitchen sink”, earning them the somewhat pejorative nickname “Tin Can Tourists”.  From Tin Can Tourists came the auto camps which morphed into motor courts and then roadside motels.

The story of the Murdock family’s trek across the country will make you grateful for the traveling conveniences we all take for granted today.  The June issue is on sale here Subscriptions are also available:  a budget-conscious month-to-month plan (or take a “test drive”); 3-month; 6-month and 1-year.  Use the “2OFFSUM18” discount code at checkout for a one-year subscription for an even better deal.

Here’s a deal worth taking a look at:  On the right-hand side of this page find the “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” section, type your email address and Subscribe.  Then, look for a free issue of Digging History Magazine in your email inbox just for signing up as a follower.

Digging History Magazine: June 2018 Issue on Sale Now!

This month’s issue of Digging History Magazine is out and available for sale — or better yet, start your subscription with this “Road Trip!” issue.  Articles include:

  • On a Whim and a Bet:  America’s First Coast-to-Coast Automobile Trip
  • Rolling Along in an Automobile:  America’s Love Affair with the Family Road Trip
  • The Great Race of 1908:  New York to Paris (via Alaska and Siberia)
  • Victorian Pastimes:  Girdling the Globe
  • Victorian Fashion:  Bicycles, Bloomers and Suffrage
  • Appalachian Histories & Mysteries:  Edith Bolling Wilson – Virginia’s Ninth President
  • Genealogical Head-Scratcher:  Stumbling Across Hidden Cousins
  • Are Emerging Technology and Shifting Societal Norms Changing the Rules of Genealogical Research?
  • Ghost Towns of the Mother Road
  • Nineteenth Century Rainmaking: Part I
  • The Dash:  Henry P. Ewing, Blind Miner

Subscriptions are easy and affordable.  A new month-to-month option has been added recently for the budget-conscious.  Purchase a single issue (this month’s or search the archives) in the magazine store.  Save even more by applying this discount code at checkout when purchasing a one-year subscription:  “2OFFSUM18”.

Summer is just around the corner (at least when the calendar says it’s summer!).  Be safe out there!

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Why Subscribe?

Why should you subscribe?  Quite simply, you’re missing out!  Each issue has increased in size and content (January-40; May-70 pages) with virtually no ads — just stories:  Here are some recent comments from subscribers:

I started reading the first issue of Digging History yesterday. (It’s been a busy week.) I’ve already learned a great deal and am having a great time doing it. Your very well written articles are a joy. I especially appreciate your use of family stories to both engage a reader and at the same time emphasize and illustrate what to look for while researching. Your combination of extensive knowledge, experience, love of stories and sense of humor are a winning mix. Each of your articles has been a great read. Time and money well spent.  Many thanks, Ginny

Read the April issue and really enjoyed it.  Thank you so much for your hard work. — Lin

Thank you for sharing these issues, Sharon! You are right about their size increasing. They are packed full of articles I can’t wait to read! Just thumbing through them has brought some of my own genealogy adventures and discoveries to mind. Very thought provoking. I love that.  Thanks, again! — Tami

Subscribe in the Digging History Magazine Store.  Now offering month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1-year subscriptions.  Purchase a one-year subscription before 11:59 p.m. May 31 and use the “2DHMAY” discount code applied at checkout for an extra $2.00 off PLUS receive the first FOUR issues of the magazine (January-April) absolutely FREE.  That’s 16 issues for the price (and a REDUCED one at that) of 12.  Special contest offer details here until the end of August.

Questions?  Contact me directly:

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Fab Four-Issue Special Will End Soon!

Don’t miss out on this “fab” deal which expires at 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2018.  Purchase a one-year subscription and use “2DHMAY” at checkout for an additional $2.00 off.  PLUS for the price of a one-year subscription you will received the first issues (January – April 2018) FREE — 16 issues for the price of 12!

If that’s not enough . . . purchase ANY subscription (month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month or 1-year) and get a chance to win a GRAND prize at summer’s end (August 31).  Details here.

Digging History Magazine: Caprock Genealogy Conference Special

I attended the first annual Caprock Genealogy Conference on May 12 and had a vendor table for Digging History Magazine with special subscription rates available to all attendees.

Now I’d like to extend that special to everyone.  For one-week (5/14/18 – 5/21/18) I’m offering the same discount for ONE-YEAR subscriptions ONLY.  To access the special discount:

You will receive the first issue (May 2018) with your purchase.

ONE WEEK ONLY!  Take advantage of this special offer and you’ll also be entered into the current contest to win either a custom-designed family history chart or a ten-hour block of ancestry research (value $250-300).


Digging History Magazine: Who Would Name Their Son “States Rights”?

Who would name their son “States Rights”?  Certainly not a Yankee!

A few years ago while snooping around Find-A-Grave to research a person to write about for my “Tombstone Tuesday” column, I stumbled across men named “States Rights” whose parents turned out to be proud Southerners who made a statement by naming their sons in honor of the burning issue of slavery — before, during and long after the Civil War.

It’s an article written for the regular Digging History Magazine column, “Believe it or not . . . stranger things have happened” and featured in the Civil War-themed April issue.  Purchase a single issue or start a subscription (3-month, 6-month or one-year).

SPECIAL OFFER:  Everyone who purchases a subscription of any length between now and June 30, 2018 is entered to win either a 10-hour block of genealogical research or a custom family history chart, valued up to $300.  Recommend a friend and get TWO more entries.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine



Digging History Magazine – North and South: Profiles in Courage

When I decided to feature a Civil War theme for the April issue of Digging History Magazine, I knew I needed to find two compelling stories of men who fought on opposite sides.  While researching stories for the March issue related to the Zimpelman family (“Who Were You Roy Simpleman?” and “Feuding and Fighting:  The El Paso Salt War”), I decided the character I would feature to represent the Confederacy was George Bernhard Zimpelman, a German-born Texan.  What I didn’t fully realize was just how valiantly he served.

I also looked for a Union soldier to feature and found the riveting story of Francis Jefferson Coates.  He grew up as a Wisconsin farm boy and joined the much-heralded “Iron Brigade”, an amalgamation of hard-scrabble farmers and lumberman of Wisconsin.  After being wounded at South Mountain he was promoted to corporal and later sergeant, about four months before Gettysburg.  Gettysburg would be his last military battle, but not his final life challenge.

Two different backgrounds, two brave soldiers, two powerful stories.  The April issue is available on sale as a single issue, or start a subscription of any length (3-month, 6-month or one year) and receive it as your first issue.  SPECIAL OFFER:  Everyone who purchases a subscription of any length between now and June 30, 2018 is entered to win either a 10-hour block of genealogical research or a custom family history chart, valued up to $300.  Recommend a friend and get TWO more entries.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine


Digging History Magazine: Special Offers

Digging History Magazine launched with a BANG! in January and this introductory special offer will be coming to an end on March 31.  Purchase either a single issue or a 3-month, 6-month or one-year subscription for a chance to win one of these prize packages:

  • 1 hour ancestry research
  • 1 hour newspaper research
  • American History E-Book Package
    • American Eclipse
    • The Man From the Train
    • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Nancy E. Turner E-Book Package
    • These is my Words
    • Sarah’s Quilt
    • The Star Garden
    • My Name is Resolute
  • Genealogy/DNA E-Book Package:
    • The Stranger in My Genes
    • The Foundling
    • Finding Family

All packages are worth approximately the same.  This special offer will run through March.  Enter to win here with your purchase.


Subscribe to the blog: