I'm wanting to portray mid 19th century life to the best of my ability and I seem to get stuck on sewing, reading and having tea parties! But I hardly believe that's all they did! So lately I've been researching high and low for clues to what an average woman would have normally done.
I was inspired to write about the jump rope and at first was only thinking of children, but I'm led to believe that it was acceptable and encouraged for adults too. As a way of exercising. Not that they went skipping up and down the streets. (Hehe!) but I can imagine them jumping in their rooms, or the backyard. It seemed to be pretty popular with young girls, and I found it mentioned in plenty of boy's books too.
This is what I've come up with (so far), regarding jump-ropes.
"If you pass along one of these avenues, in the cool hours of the afternoon, you may see troops and troops of children, jumping rope, and chasing hoop round the fountain of Union Park; and if the sun is setting brilliantly, rainbows dodge about on the spray, as if playing bo-peep with the happy little ones."
The United States magazine and Democratic review, Volume 16- 1845, Page 569
"The Prize Extraordinary — A Hint For Boarding-Schools — The Governess of a ladies school one day made her appearance among her pupils holding in her hand a valuable and interesting book, which she knew that all of them desired to read, and some of them very much wished to possess. She proceeded to inform the young ladies that this beautiful volume was intended as a prize for the one among them who should first accomplish the feat of taking a million jumps with the skipping-rope. Skipping of course, became a fashionable recreation in the school—in fact a serious business. Sauntering, and lolling over the fire were almost entirely laid aside, and the sound of the rope and the jump was continually heard, each young lady counting her jumps, and entering the number in a book appointed for the purpose. At length the number was achieved, and the prize obtained by a persevering little girl, who, for two or three winters previous, had been a grievous sufferer from chilblains. Perhaps the cure or prevention of chilblains had never entered the minds of the young competitors, but so it was, that in the succeeding winter, chilblains were almost unknown in the school—and, in particular, the girl of the million skips has never had a chilblain since.—N. B. There is no patent that restricts this valuable remedy to that particular school. It is perfectly free for the use of any school, any family, or any young person who may have the good sense to adopt it"
The Family economist, Volumes 1-3- 1848 Page 17
"There are some games which might be played in the open air by grown-up young ladies with great propriety, if arrangements were made for the purpose; and it is to be hoped that the time will come when every gentleman's seat in the country will be furnished with the means of out-door exercise for ladies, such as bowling-alleys with lighter and smaller balls to suit their little hands, trocogrounds, quoits, bows and arrows for archery, bowls, &c. In stormy weather, the first of these games might be played under cover with a free admission of air, and prove an excellent substitute for out-door exercise. Battledoor, the graces, and skipping-rope, are also very useful, as, by bringing the arms into play, they exercise the lungs. If, instead of sitting a whole morning over your books and work, you would jump up at the end of every hour or two and play the graces, or skip the rope, for five or ten minutes, it would greatly help to keep your circulation brisk and healthy, and with daily walks might prove sufficient exercise."
The Young Lady's Friend - 1857 Page 161
I just wanted to say that Google Books is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful... resource! I love it so very much.