Literary Links

July/August 1999


Good News and Announcements

July 28--The Chicago-North Chapter of RWA will announce the winners of their first Fire & Ice contest at the RWA National conference this evening. Stay tuned to the Chicago-North web site to find out who wins! Click Here!

July 28-August 1, 1999--RWA 19th Annual National Conference in Chicago, IL, The Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Join RWA for 1000 Years of Romance and Beyond. If you can't make the entire conference, be sure to stop in for the Literacy Autographing and meet your favorite authors on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. All proceeds go to literacy foundations. This event is open to the public, so tell all your friends.

August 1, 1999--Join the Golden Network Chapter of RWA as they announce the winners of their Golden Contract Contest. The event will take place at 9:00 a.m., in the Mayfair Room. At that time, the Golden Network will also be awarding its newly-published authors their Alumni status certificates. Come help them celebrate!

Brenda Novak happily announces the sale of a book to Harlequin Superromance. Titled Expectations, Brenda's first contemporary is due out March, 2000. Her Long Historical Golden Heart finalist, Of Noble Birth, is due out November 1999. Look for it in stores beginning October 15.

Michelle Hoppe, Literary Liaisons president, is pleased to announce that she is a finalist in Inland Valley RWA's Put Your Best Hook Forward Contest with a new manuscript, LONG WAY HOME. 


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.

Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame by Benita Eisler
Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries by Avril Hart and Susan North
Her Little Majesty: The Life of Queen Victoria by Carolly Erickson
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior--Anytime, Anyplace by Jo-Ellen Dimitrius and Mark Mazzarella
The Stage Costume Sourcebook by Jack Cassin-Scott
Where Rails Meet the Sea: America's Connections Between Ships & Trains by Michael Krieger

Various Titles by George Sand

Featured Title
English Through the Ages by William Brohaugh

RWA Chapters On-line
Delaware Chapter
Inland Empire RWA (Spokane, WA)
Missouri Chapter
Red River Romance Writers

Researching the Romance
Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame by Benita Eisler
Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries by Avril Hart and Susan North
Her Little Majesty: The Life of Queen Victoria by Carolly Erickson
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior--Anytime, Anyplace by Jo-Ellen Dimitrius and Mark Mazzarella
The Stage Costume Sourcebook by Jack Cassin-Scott
Where Rails Meet the Sea: America's Connections Between Ships & Trains by Michael Krieger

Writers' Resources
Casebook of Jack the Ripper
Deaths, Disturbances, Disasters and Disorders in Chicago
The Gaming Table, Its Votaries and Victims
Historical Text Archive
The Language of Love


Feature Article 

American Fashions
By Michelle J. Hoppe

When America's history is considered comparatively with the rest of world, she is indeed a young country. Not only is she young, but by nature of her settlement, she is a diverse mixture of culture and customs. Fashion is no exception.

American fashion has always been influenced by European design, particularly Paris. Both the Empress Josephine and the Empress Eugenie were instrumental in establishing fashion trends. Their tastes spread to England then to the Eastern United States. From the fashionable cities of New York and Boston, fashion trends migrated to the Western coast and eventually to the less populated Western states, sometimes as much as five years after the style originated.

Fashionable American women did not wear their Paris creations right away, however. Instead, the practice was to pack those dresses away for two to three years before wearing them. It was considered tasteless to use them any earlier. Also, society women rarely wore the same dress twice.

As wealth spread and new families grew rich, they disregarded these old ways. As soon as they purchased a European creation, they wore it, much to the horror of the old, established families. But the nouveau riche wanted to flaunt their wealth. By the 1870s, women were paying as much as $300 for a walking dress, and up to $5000 for a wedding dress.

However much the Americans were influenced by European design though, they still preferred to make their own clothes. At the beginning of the 19th century, over 75 percent of all clothing was homemade. When Americans Elias Howe and Isaac Singer patented their sewing machines (in 1846 and 1850, respectively), clothing could be made in larger quantities and thus be bought as ready-made garments. Wealthy Americans, however, still preferred custom-made dresses.

But while Americans borrowed styles from Europe, one article of clothing remains truly American--blue jeans.

Bavarian born Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco in 1850 on the heels of the Gold Rush. He brought with him canvas, hoping to sell the fabric to tentmakers. When he arrived, however, he learned the need for sturdy pants was greater than that for shelter. Levi had a tailor fashion two pairs of pants. He wore one and gave the other pair to a friend who went through town talking about these new and fabulous pants of Levi's. Meantime, Levi sent word to his brothers back east to buy up all the canvas they could. He opened his California Street pants factory, Levi Strauss & Co., and hired seamstresses and tailors to work for him.

He experimented with different dyes and fabrics over the years, eventually replacing the canvas with denim by 1853. Then finding that light blue, brown and gray dyes never resulted in the same shade of pants, he switched to a deep indigo blue, assuring him the standard color of "blue jeans."

Levi's next innovation was to replace standard stitching with rivets, so as to wear better under the stress and strain of hard labor like mining and ranching. Copper rivets were added to his jeans in 1874. They sold for $13.50 per dozen. By 1937, teachers began complaining that the back-pocket rivets from their students' pants were ruining the desk seats. Levi responded by covering the rivets with thread.

Thus an American fashion was born, which has held out to this very day.

(Michelle J. Hoppe, 1997 Golden Heart Finalist, is webmaster and Treasurer for Chicago-North RWA, Secretary for The Golden Network, and President of Literary Liaisons, Ltd.)

--For more on American Fashion, I suggest the following reference:
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon, 1993, Writer's Digest Books.

--For more on 19th Century Fashions, try:
English Women's Clothing in the 19th Century by C. Willett Cunnington

These books are available for purchase in our on-line bookstore in the non-fiction section.

Also see the Researching the Romance page of Literary Liaisons for more suggestions.



Editor's Note

You may have noticed that I deviated from the usual topic in the article this month. While I usually have something for you on the craft of writing or English history, this month's article is a brief look at American fashion in the 1800s. The reason for this is that this month's newsletter features the year 1850--a year notable in American fashion. For it was in the year 1850 that Levi Strauss created his first pair of canvas trousers, which would eventually evolve into what we now know as blue jeans. Also in 1850, Isaac Singer patented his sewing machine. This would change the course of fashion forever, as clothing could be produced in mass quantities, and 'off the rack', as we buy today. So read about these landmark events, and while you do, ponder a life without either jeans or the sewing machine.


FAQ Column

Q: It's nice to find connections in cyberspace while researching historicals. I'm seeking information on the Wild West--as a woman might find it--coming from New York City in l881. I'd love to see more about the taming of the west. Glad to have found you. I love literature!

A: Here's a link to a web site to use as a jumping point. I haven't explored every site, but there might be something here you can use, or something that will lead to another site.

Women's Work in the 19th Century--

Also, Writer's Digest just published a book entitled The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West--From 1840-1900 by Candy Moulton. It's quite detailed with lots of bibliographical references included. The ISBN# is 0898798701. You can purchase it at Just click on the Amazon link from our index page ( and do a search from there. Retail price is $18.99.

Writer's Digest also published a book a few years back about America called The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon, but it includes more than the Wild West.

There is also a wonderful children's reference book from the Time-Life series, The American Story. It is called Settling The West, and includes many anecdotes and photographs, as well as an extensive bibliography. The ISBN is 0783562527 and is available through

Good Luck!


Historical Calendar of Events


Guy de Maupassant, French writer
Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish author

Zachary Taylor, U.S. President, aged 65
Louis Philippe, King of France
William Wordsworth, English poet
Honore de Balzac, French novelist

January 29--U.S. Senator Henry Clay introduces an "omnibus bill" containing compromise resolutions designed to reduce the growing polarity between North and South.
April 19--The Clayton-Bulwer regulates the interests of Britain and the United Sates in Central America with special reference to a proposed canal across Nicaragua.
May 31--A French electoral law enacted requires that a voter be resident in one place for at least 3 years as attested by a tax receipt or employer's affidavit.
June 9--French clubs and public meetings are forbidden.
September 9--California is admitted to the Union as the 31st state.
September 18--A new Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress strengthens the 1793 act by substituting federal jurisdiction for state jurisdiction.
Britain enters a "Golden Age" of prosperity as she embraces free trade principles that remove tariffs on foodstuffs.
Millard Fillmore becomes the 13th U.S. President
The first national women's rights convention opens at Worcester, Massachusetts
Congress abolishes flogging in the U.S. Navy.
The balance of the Mexican cession is divided at the 37th parallel into the territories of New Mexico and Utah.
China's Taiping Rebellion begins under the leadership of Kwangsi district schoolmaster and mystic Hong Xiuquan, in a civil war that will claim 20 to 30 million lives in the next 14 years.
Anglo-Kaffir War begins

The Arts

"Christ in the House of His Parents" by John Everett Millais
"The Stone Breakers" by Courbet
"Round Table at Sansouci" by Menzel
Representative Men by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Personal History of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Pendennis by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sonnets from the Portuguese by English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"In Memoriam" by Alfred Tennyson
"The Building of the Ship" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Genoveva 6/25 at Leipzig, with music by Robert Schumann
Lohengrin 8/28 at the Weimar Theater, with music by Richard Wagner
Popular songs:
"De Camptown Races" by Stephen C. Foster
"Cheer, Boys, Cheer" by English composer-singer Henry Russell, lyrics by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay.

Daily Life
The U.S. cotton crop reaches 2,136,000 bales.
California raises 15,000 bushels of wheat.
The population of New York City reaches 700,000 with 20 percent of it foreign-born, mostly Irish.
The U.S. South has 1.8 million black slaves, 2.1 million whites; 15.7 percent of the U.S. population is black.
Only half the children born in the United States until now have reached the age of 5. The percentage will increase dramatically.
The world's population reaches 1.24 billion by some estimates-more than twice its number in the 17th century.
The United States has 254 daily newspapers, up from 138 in 1840
The Portland Oregonian begins publication.
Harper's Monthly begins publication at New York.
The Lancet announces appointment of an analytical and sanitary commission to study the quality of British foods.
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency opens at Chicago under the direction of Scots-American lawman Allan Pinkerton.
American Express Co. is formed by a merger of the 6-year-old Wells & Co., Livingston, Fargo & Co., and the firm of Butterfield, Wasson & Co.
The University of Sydney is founded in Australia.
The University of Utah is founded at Salt Lake City.
The University of Rochester is founded in New York.
The Royal Meteorological Society is founded
May 4, June 14, and September 17--Fire damages San Francisco
The Royal Navy reduces its daily rum ration from one-quarter pint to one-eighth pint to be dispensed before the midday meal.
P. T. Barnum engages Swedish coloratura Johanna Maria "Jenny" Lind for an American tour.
Squash racquets is played for the first time by boys at England's 279-year-old Harrow School.
Anagrams is invented by a Salem, Mass., schoolteacher.
Old-age insurance is sold for the first time in France

Jersey cows are introduced into the United States.
Open-ranging longhorn cattle herds on the western plains are estimated to number 50 million head, sharing the prairie with 20 million head of buffalo.
The Elberta peach is imported into the United States from China.
The Red Delicious apple is discovered as a chance seedling in Iowa. It will become the leading U.S. apple variety.
The Brooklyn Institute imports eight pairs of English sparrows to protect Brooklyn, N.Y., shade trees from caterpillars.
Nearly 15 percent of the world's sugar supply now comes from beets.
Tea catches up with coffee in popularity among the English.
Salmon is taken for the last time from England's Thames River, which is fast becoming heavily polluted. The fish will not reappear in the Thames for more than 120 years.
A 50-year period of large-scale tenement construction begins at New York.
Bavarian-American entrepreneur Levi Strauss, 20, introduces "bibless overalls" made out of canvas.
July 7--Scottish explorer Edward John Eyre arrives at Albany in Western Australia after a year-long journey across the Nullarbor Plain with his aborigine companion Wylie.
Ignaz Semmelweis enforces antiseptic practices in the obstetric ward of Budapest's St. Rochus Hospital.
German physicist-anatomist-physiologist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand Helmholtz invents the ophthalmoscope.
German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen invents the Bunsen burner.
German industrialist Friedrich Bayer, 25, founds a company at Elberfield that will be called Friedrich Bayer und Co.
Silas Putnam, of Neponsit, Massachusetts, invents a trip hammer which will be used by the U.S. cavalry to make horseshoe nails.
U.S. actor-mechanic Isaac Merrit Singer invents the sewing machine, which will become the world's largest-selling machine of its kind
The first U.S. clipper ship to be seen at London, the Oriental, arrives from Hong Kong after a 97-day voyage.
The S.S. Atlantic goes into service for Edward Knight Collins' U.S. Mail Steamship Co. in competition with Samuel Cunard's Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. She breaks the Royal Mail's speed record on her return voyage, crossing in 10 days, 16 hours.
The Illinois Central Railway receives nearly 2.6 million acres of Illinois land as a gift from Congress to become the first U.S. railroad to obtain a land grant.
U.S. railroad trackage reaches 9,000 miles, up from little more than 3,000 in 1840.
Land grants to U.S. railroad companies in the next 21 years will cover more territory than France, England, Wales, and Scotland combined.
Stephenson's cast-iron railroad bridge at Newcastle, England, opens.


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