The Common Lifestyle

Many factors common to New Englanders in the mid-nineteenth century determined their lifestyle:

  1. Eating habits. There was very little store-bought food except meat, potatoes, salt, and sugar. Winters were long and cold. The people made up for the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables with rich breads and pastries. Cakes, pies, and doughnuts were common as breakfast foods. There were no vegetable oils or shortenings. Meat was expensive, and pork the most available.
  2. Clothing. There was very little store-bought clothing. Cold winters necessitated heavy clothing and bedding.
  3. No indoor plumbing. No electricity. No washing machines.
  4. Homes were heated by wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Windows were tightly closed at night. Night air was considered injurious.
  5. Use of tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and cider. These were just as habit-forming then as now. In lives with little recreation or change, they offered a solace of sorts!
  6. Life expectancy. In 1900 in the United States the average was 47.3 years.
  7. Proneness to disease. Caused by appalling ignorance of hygiene, sanitation, and the cause of sickness. The relation of diet and the care of the body to health and the causes of disease was not realized.