Journal · Writing on Wednesday

Writing on Wednesday (March 25, 2015)

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Writing on Wednesday is a way to keep this particular writer on track (I hope!). These are weekly posts/updates where I will share something from the past week of writing with the readers of this blog. Sometimes it might be something I’ve learned, found useful, or a bit of my own writing and ideas. I hope this will be a time of sharing, encouragement, and accountability. Join me in setting some writing goals to finish that project and celebrate each success.

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Since I started writing this writing resource posts this month, I’ve been so excited for this one! These three books are among my favorites on my writing shelf, and to be completely truthful, they aren’t really writing related at all. But, when it comes to writing historical fiction in particular years, they are invaluable. In fact, they save me a lot of time. Without them, I would probably turn to sources such a pinterest– and we all know that will turn into looking at all the yummy food rather than doing the research I intended.

Some time ago, I had heard from an author that she set a number of her novels in a certain time period because she had one of these books. The book made it so convenient to learn about certain things that she just stuck with it. I was quite intrigued and the idea had a lot of merit. So I picked up my own copy, and then bought a couple of other similar ones. At this point, hopefully you are wondering what these wonderful books are. Well, one of them is the Sears Roebuck and Company Catalogue from 1897.

Besides just being fun to flip through, this book is an exact replica of the catalogues that were available in 1897. What that means for the historical fiction writer, you can look to see what products were easily available for your characters as well as the costs.

This book literally has everything! There are sections of men’s neckwear, ladies’ pocket books, flat ware, accordions, fish hooks, lamps, wagons, agricultural implements, and let us not forget the section on patent medicines. Of course there are even more items than that listed in the pages of this catalogue.

I’ll be honest that there is definitely more in this catalogue than I will ever include in my writing. But, when a character is building a house, looking for a new wagon, or in need of some clothes, it does make a wonderful resource for including historically accurate brands, prices, and descriptions.

This one catalogue was not enough for me. I also have a copy of an 1886 Bloomingdale’s catalogue and an 1894 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Consumer’s guide.

There are dozens of other replica catalogues available for specific types of goods and for various years, and like I said, what better of a resource than a book containing all the items that your character would have in their house in a certain era. If you write historical fiction, it is definitely worth looking to see if a relevant catalogue would be available to you!

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