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ottomadenedamotto
05-27-2010, 09:01 PM
I'm looking for a general idea of daily life in a western-European village in Britain, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, or Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Any and all information is welcome (assume that I know nothing,) but I'd like to at least answer these general questions:

-What did the physical layout of a village usually look like? Were there numerous houses built around the fields for everyone to tend, or did each farm have its own fields like today?

-What sort of education did villagers receive? What could they be reasonably expected to accomplish in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic?

-Was there a division of labor in a village, or did each family mostly take care of itself?

-How often could a villager expect to travel to a nearby town or beyond?

-How available to the average village were conveniences such as electricity, telegraph service, and modern medicine?

-What were the average villager's biggest health and social concerns?

Thanks in advance.

firedrake
05-27-2010, 09:09 PM
I'm looking for a general idea of daily life in a western-European village in Britain, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, or Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Any and all information is welcome (assume that I know nothing,) but I'd like to at least answer these general questions:

-What did the physical layout of a village usually look like? Were there numerous houses built around the fields for everyone to tend, or did each farm have its own fields like today? It really depends on the country and the region. I can only speak for Britain. Villages developed and grew at different rates, in different ways, depending on so many factors including local economy, geography, etc. There is no generic layout. There are different types.

-What sort of education did villagers receive? What could they be reasonably expected to accomplish in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic?

-Was there a division of labor in a village, or did each family mostly take care of itself?

-How often could a villager expect to travel to a nearby town or beyond?

-How available to the average village were conveniences such as electricity, telegraph service, and modern medicine?

-What were the average villager's biggest health and social concerns?

Thanks in advance.

Google is always a good place to start.
That's a lot of information to look for in one post.
I suggest you get busy doing some research! That's one of the fun things about writing, discovering for yourself what information is available and what you can do with it.
Honestly, your questions are so broad, it wouldn't be possible to answer them without (a) doing the research myself and (b) posting a very, very long reply.
If you go to the Historical Writing forum, you'll find some handy links on a sticky thread there.
happy hunting :)

johnnysannie
05-27-2010, 09:26 PM
You ask a broad spectrum of questions; hard to answer because the answers are going to vary from one country to another, even one district within the same country to another. As Firedrake said, there was no generic layout for a village.

To narrow what you need to know, I would first pick a specific area in one country then learn about that region and its' history.

waylander
05-27-2010, 11:43 PM
Google 'The Victorian Farm' for a BBC programme recreating farming life in England in the latter half of the 19th century.
Note - no electricity, visits to the doctor cost (depending on the goodwill of the doctor).
Most villagers work on farms and live in houses belonging to the estate that owns the land around the village.

dirtsider
05-28-2010, 12:03 AM
*First half of the 1800's or second half?
*Which country in particular?
*Define "modern medicine".

Try looking up "living history farms" in the areas you're interested. That's a good google starting point. I know there's a lot of sites out there in general because that's what I've used plenty of time. (But then, I generally look at the American sites.)

ETA: Read Dickens or Elizabeth Gaskell or Jane Austen. (Or watch the BBC drama of their works.) Yes, they're fiction but they do still address topics related to their time they were writing. Perhaps not so much on the farming/small village aspect but at least social topics. Dickens' Bleak House and one of Elizabeth Gaskell's books has doctor's as one of their characters. (If you're going to watch them, go with Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.)

pdr
05-28-2010, 03:08 AM
you follow firedrake's advice you will find a sticky down in the Genre - Historical - board. Resources by Era has a Victorian section but you need to check out many of the resources in the General section there.

Dorothy Hartley's books, Food in England, Country Crafts, etc. will give you a very clear idea of rural life.
Elizabeth Davies' book on Bread is anothe rgeneral source.

Waylander suggest the Victorian Farm DVD there is also the excellent Victorian Kitchen Garden, Flower Garden and Kitchen DVDs from the BBC, and books to accompany them.

There's a very good farming book covering traditional farm methods in the UK from 1850-1950 with many excellent photos, drawings and quotes. 'Yesterday's Farm' by Valerie Porter, pub. David and Charles. And 'The Peverel Papers' by Flora Thomson (Try her 'Larkrise to Candleford' too) takes you month by month through the flora and fauna of England.

Once you have a good idea of the generalities you need to pick a specific area and learn the regional differences. Many villages in the UK have neat websites as do other European ones.