Articles and Essays

  • Family Life Just moved. Original by H. Mosler; chromo-lithographed & published by A. & C. Kaufmann, 1870. Family life in nineteenth-century Cincinnati was fundamentally different from traditional family life in the eighteenth century. Eighteenth-century families assumed a natural hierarchy and continuity between generations. A typical family would depend on the labor of sons and daughters to contribute sufficiently to the family's economy to provide a beginning ...
  • Singing Schools Cecil giving Felix the music lesson. Pen and ink drawing by Alice Barber Stephens [1888?]. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. The singing school was a common fixture in many American communities during the nineteenth century. In the singing school, rudimentary musical sight reading and the mechanics of singing were taught by a 'singing master.' These schools often became popular places for communities ...
  • Religion Watch meeting. Color chromolithograph. J. Latham & Company, c1878. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Changes in religious life paralleled the changes in family life. Between 1776 and 1820 American religion changed from a hierarchically-run to a participant-run activity with revivals and competition among denominations. The Puritans' inscrutable, angry God was replaced by a loving, comforting Jesus. The sacred songs of the time ...
  • Rural Values Farmers nooning, from the original picture in the possession of Iona Sturges Esqr. Painted by W.S. Mount ; engraved by Alfred Jones ; printed by J. Dalton. 1843. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Songs sung in mid-nineteenth-century parlors often endorsed agrarian values and promoted emigration to the West. Indeed, before the Civil War, both North and South had been predominantly rural. The ...
  • Temperance The fruits of temperance. Currier & Ives, 1848. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Temperance songs appeared regularly in all types of nineteenth-century popular songbooks. Supporters of the temperance movement believed poor health, poverty, crime and general moral degradation were the direct results of alcohol consumption. Temperance songs, poems and hymns often painted sensational and even dire scenarios of negligent, alcoholic fathers causing ...
  • Parlor Music [Power of music]. James Queen, artist, c1872. Print and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Throughout the nineteenth century, Americans took great delight in making music together by performing in instrumental and vocal ensembles, and by attending musical soirees, sing-alongs, and other interactive musical events. Families entertained themselves in the home by making music together. In Ohio, as elsewhere, parlor music -- that genre of ...
  • Minstrel Songs Primrose & West's Big Minstrels. Strobridge Lith. Co., c1896. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Blackface minstrelsy, which derived its name from the white performers who blackened their faces with burnt cork, was a form of entertainment that reached its peak in the mid-nineteenth century. Using caricatures of African Americans in song, dance, tall tales, and stand-up comedy, minstrelsy was immensely popular with ...