I had to share this lovely resource! archive.org (Lots of old books, and much more).
I figure, I can't get a well rounded vision of an era until I've been exposed to a large dose of all available resources: photos, paintings, fashion plates, books, magazines, clothing, etc, etc. Basically, got to live it! (I wish...)
It's like learning a foreign language, at first a lot of things don't make sense, but eventually you start comprehending it, faster and easier. I've spent the last five years looking at CDV's and women's clothing, but have sorely neglected the literature of the early Victorian era, and boy! what a wealth of information it is.
One thing I find (again and again) is that they weren't much different from ourselves. It seems that people's relationships were the same, we feel the same way about fashion and trends, and there is a mix of honorable and unsavory ;) characters out there. Their inventions and discoveries are part of the foundation of today. I wouldn't be surprised if in a hundred and fifty years, our future generations will think us complete idiots... But we're not!!! (I hope... Hehe).
So to wrap it all up, instead of jumping to conclusions (as is so easy to do!), we could seek a good understanding of our ancestors and, though they are long gone, respect and honor them.