Monday, July 9, 2012

Historical Help

I recently stumbled across a website I thought was rather neat, and it struck me that it would be very useful to writers of historical fiction or anyone researching a particular time period.  I’d thought I’d share it here.  It’s called Writer’s Dreamtools, and it features overviews of history broken down by decade from 1650 to 2000.  I especially like that these overviews don’t focus solely on large historical details, but also on little ones such as what kind of dance crazes were sweeping the population and what foods were popular.

For example, according to the information provided for 1650, “to burn the midnight oil” became a new slang phrase during this period, black shoes with gold ribbons were “in” for men, lace caps under wide-brimmed hats for women, Harvard College accepted the theory that the sun was at the center of the solar system, hot chocolate was popular in London, the air spring and balance pump were invented, the first traffic laws were passed in New York, and King Charles the I of England was a current “bad guy.”

Interested in the 1920s?  Rin Tin Tin was in.  Al Capone and Bugs Moran were resident baddies.  Eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted for throwing the World Series.  The hair-dryer and Milky Way candy bars came into popularity.  The first Academy Awards went to “Wings” and “The Broadway Melody.”  The Great Gatsby was published.  Chanel No. 5 and mascara became popular.  New slang terms: “the cat’s meow,” “go fly a kite,” and “for crying out loud!”

I really like these handy lists, and they can be accessed here: History by Decade.

Writer's Dream Tools also has some additional services available by subscription.  I can’t attest to these, but if anyone has tried them out, please let us know in the comments.

And do share—what are your favorite resources for writers?

photo credit: antonychammond via photopin cc


  1. I hadn't heard of this resource before. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Thanks! This is really cool :)

  3. Wonderful! I am definitely bookmarking this site!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Looks like a handy quick guide to get someone started. I did notice that the History by Decade pages listed "Bad Guys" but any writer of historical fiction should be aware that who the bad guys are depends on who your characters are, where they live, and what their political and religious beliefs are.

  5. Thanks, that is helpful. Writer's Digest had some books, "The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in . . ." that I've found useful--especially the guide to the 1800s.

  6. Wow, what a great site! Thanks for sharing. :) I'm going to tweet your post. :)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!