We all sometimes feel like we belong to a different decade or even to a different century. That’s only natural; it’s in human nature to idealize the past and to sometimes feel like a stranger in the present.
However, while some of us end our adoration for the days of yore by simply stating: “Boy the ’20s were definitely my era, now let’s see what’s new on Facebook,” others take this more serious.
Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman are a young married couple who study history, specifically the late Victorian era of the 1880s and ’90s. What distinguishes the Chrismans from other academics, is that they use a method that is beyond any theoretical research. See more on their website: This Victorian Life
Sarah and Gabriel have dedicated six years of their lives to a long-term experiential study of culture and technologies of the late 19th century. What they do is, they’ve implemented a lifestyle consistent with England’s Victorian era.
“Five years ago we bought a house built in 1888 in Port Townsend, Washington State — a town that prides itself on being a Victorian seaport. When we moved in, there was an electric fridge in the kitchen: We sold that as soon as we could. Now we have a period-appropriate icebox that we stock with block ice. Every evening, and sometimes twice a day during summer, I empty the melt water from the drip tray beneath its base.”- wrote Sarah in her personal essay on Vox.
From their house to their clothing, Sarah and her husband try to live as authentic Victorian Life as possible, including no cell phones at all, no cars, no pizza.It all started when Sarah tried a corset and found it entirely comfortable.
“When I realized that everything I’d heard about corsets was wrong, I started asking myself what else have I heard about the era, what else might be wrong?” Chrisman, 35, said.
Now Sarah wears corset 24/7, 365 days a year. Every morning Sarah bakes bread using a sourdough culture. Their kitchen is equipped with antique utensils, including rotary eggbeater, a Victorian food chopper as well as mortars and pestles.
Between cooking, sewing and cleaning, Sarah spends her free time writing a diary, letters and other correspondence using an antique fountain pen.
Although, it should be mentioned that the couple maintains an internet website, so they are not completely cut off from the contemporary world.
“We still don’t completely shun computers. Sarah’s had to use them for research. We try to understand that computers are a useful tool. I certainly still use computers. They’ve put me through grad school, actually,” Gabriel Chrisman told ABC News. “But I don’t want to be controlled, and I don’t want to have my life defined by computers and by technology.”
Chrisman’s “time travel machine” has stirred things up on the internet. After Sarah had written a personal essay on Vox about their life, they were exposed to a lot of criticism.
Some people noted that women didn’t have the right to vote during the Victorian era, others noted that minorities were not entitled to the same privileges as white people. However, Chrismans’ said that is not in their attention to force their lifestyle on anyone.
“It’s the difference between reading about a different country in a book and going there. It’s actually being surrounded by those details and working with them every day,” said Sarah Chrisman. “And so it’s a way of becoming more familiar with things. And the more familiar we are with something, the better we understand it.”