February 1, 1844: Happy birthday to one of the most famous botanists of the 19th-century, Eduard Strasburger! Strasburger developed the principles of mitosis and coined the terms "cytoplasm" and "nucleoplasm".
February 1, 1845: Baylor University founded in Texas.
February 1, 1865: 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (abolishing slavery) is approved by President Lincoln. It had been passed by the House of Representatives the previous day, and would be ratified on December 6th of that year.
People interested in human rights history will enjoy this piece by the BBC, comparing modern slavery with the historic variety:
"Slave Labor and Consumer Power: The Long View" http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06sgxg5
February 2, 1882: A baby elephant is born at the winter quarters of Barnum's Circus in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The baby is two feet, six inches high, weighs forty-five pounds, and is covered with shaggy black hair an inch long. More details: Thompson, W.C. On the Road With A Circus. New York: New Amsterdam Book Company, p. 195.
February 2, 1887: The ancient pagan holiday of Groundhog Day is officially celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA, for the first time. (The Punxsutawney groundhog would become the official representative of the holiday in the U.S.)
February 3, 1850: Happy birthday, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Williams Champney, author of the Three Vassar Girls series!
February 5, 1883: The Southern Pacific Railroad completes its "Sunset Route".
February 7, 1867: Happy birthday, author Laura Ingalls Wilder! (A biography of Wilder, Prairie Fires, by Caroline Fraser, is quite good!)
February 10th: Happy anniversary, Victoria and Albert! Married February 10, 1840.
"The ceremony took place at the Chapel Royal of St. James' Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London conducting the service. The records inform us that twelve young ladies carried the bride's train, and that the wedding-cake was nine feet in circumference and sixteen inches deep, the materials for it costing one hundred guineas. The bride's gift to each bridesmaid was a brooch in the form of a bird, the body of turquoises, the eyes of rubies, the beak a diamond, the claws of pure gold, resting upon pearls of great size. After the ceremony the happy couple drove to Windsor Castle, where the honeymoon was spent." Source: Living Leaders of the World, 1889.
February 10, 1853: Charles Stratton (a.k.a. General Tom Thumb) marries Lavinia Warren.
A piece of the couple's wedding cake is now kept in the Library of Congress' collection.
February 11, 1861: Happy birthday, Elizabeth Bisland! Miss Bisland is now perhaps most famous for her 1889-90 race around the world against fellow journalist Nelly Bly. However, Miss Bisland was a sweet, fascinating woman in her own right —and a very skilled writer as well. Her own account of the famous voyage, "A Flying Trip Around the World" makes for absolutely charming reading. For hyperlinks to Elizabeth's book about her famous trip, look under "Travel Books" on http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/favorite-books-etc.html
Elizabeth's sister Mary was also a writer; to read a piece by her on women and bicycling, go to http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/womans-cycle.html
February 12th: Happy birthday, Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln! They were born on the same day, February 12, 1809.
February 13, 1857: Happy birthday Almonzo Wilder! Husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the subject of her charming story, Farmer Boy.
February 14: Happy birthday, Frederick Douglass! The writer and orater was born a slave and the exact date of his birth around 1818 was not recorded, but he chose to celebrate it on Valentine's Day.
"The past is our wisest and best instructor. In its dim and shadowy outlines we may, if we will, discern in some measure those elements of wisdom which should guide the present and secure the welfare of the future." —Frederick Douglass, 1889.
February 14, 1859: Oregon becomes a state.
February 16th, 1883: Ladies' Home Journal begins publishing
For links to digitized copies, check out the "Magazines" portion of our "Favorite Books, Etc." page (about 2/3 of the way down the page —after the books) : http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/favorite-books-etc.html
Other historical magazine articles: http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/historical-articles-index.html
Victorian images scanned from books and magazines in our collection: http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/historical-images.html
February 18, 1836: A system of gas lighting installed on the public streets in Philadelphia. For details, see "Street Lighting in Philadelphia: A Retrospect." The Record of Growth: A Monthly Journal of Material Progress. February, 1882, pp. 34—36.
From Appendix IV of A Trip and a Tumble:
"…In the May 21, 1885 edition of The Daily British Colonist an article appeared discussing the cost of upkeep for Victoria, B.C.'s electric streetlight towers, and the city's incredibly bright arc lamps are mentioned in various other accounts… In A Trip and A Tumble, seeing Victoria's arc lights makes Felix reflect on the lighting systems in Philadelphia. The idea of gas lighting on the public streets of Philadelphia was first proposed in 1807 and instated on February 18, 1836. By the time Felix was born in 1861, these lights would have been ubiquitous throughout the city. When electric lights were first introduced, there was controversy over whether it was worth the trouble and expense of replacing an entire existing infrastructure of lighting…" —Appendix IV, A Trip and a Tumble
Time for a vacation —step right up! When Felix's newspaper sends him up to Victoria, B.C. to report on a visiting circus Ken inevitably tags along, "like a dutiful puppy", as Addie says. Meanwhile, Jacob's sent north to Victoria as well, as an ambassador for the cycling company he represents. Addie tells him to keep an eye on the chums, but no one ever could keep Ken and Felix from stumbling into scrapes. When a vivacious high-society belle and a surprisingly timid circus bicyclist enter the picture, things heat up quickly.
Be prepared for a grand circus pageant —let the show begin!
February 19, 1843: Happy birthday, Adelina Patti, "The Queen of Song"!
February 19, 1847: Happy birthday, Sara Yorke Stevenson, lady archaelogist and first woman lecturer at Harvard's Peabody Museum!
February 24, 1871: Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex published.
February 25, 1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels appointed to a vacant place in the U.S. Senate, becoming the first black congressman in the U.S. (In 1875, former slave Blanche Kelso Bruce would become the first African American to be elected —rather than appointed— to a seat in the Senate.) Revels would go on to found the first African American university.
February 28th, 1854: Isaac Stevens, first governor of Washington Territory, addresses the first session of the territorial legislature and emphasizes the need for a railroad to the Pacific Northwest, saying: "Our commerce doubles in seven years… the necessities of the times imperiously demand that the roads now running westward should not tbe stayed in their course till they reach our western shores." Source: Armbruster, Kurt E. Orphan Road: The Railroad Comes to Seattle, 1853—1911. Pullman, WA: WSU Press, p. 12
Special days in February
Sunday, February 3, 2019: Super Bowl Sunday. Read an 1895 account of a football game in Port Townsend: <http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/the-old-gold-and-black-victorious.html> Dan Bracken, who lived in our house in the 1890's, was a "smashing fullback" on the Port Townsend team!
February 14th: Happy Valentine's Day!
Victorian Valentine images: https://www.zazzle.com/collections/victorian_valentines-119071845394840472
More romantic Victorian imagery: <https://www.zazzle.com/collections/love_romance-119036511351599603>
Victorian corset images: <https://www.zazzle.com/collections/corsets-119713551707819447>
Victorian flower images from our personal archive reprinted on gifts for you: www.zazzle.com/collections/floral-119803436715725387
The Language and Sentiment of Flowers: