It’s something I’ve wondered about over the course of my research. How would the development of new technologies have impacted on our ancestors?
Technology comes in all shapes and sizes. We mostly think of developments in electronics but there are so many more.
In the earl 1800’s the Jacquard loom was developed. This used a punched card to control the loom and made making more intricate designs in fabric possible. This would have been revolutionary to our ancestors as they could have patterned clothes rather than the boring plain ones. This would have made life much brighter as they could have had more decorative homes.
In the 1820/30’s a major development happened when Michael Faraday started to develop the electric generator. Just think what this would mean for our ancestors. Eventually they would be able to use electric lights. Just think what a difference this would make. Until electric lights they had to use reed lights, candles or oil lamps. All of these came with their own problems. Reed lights smelt and all produced smoke and caused rooms to get dirty quicker. Once they could have electric lights all these problems would be solved.
What about photograph which was developed in the first part of the 19th century. Just imagine being able to have a photo of your loved ones to have as a keepsake. People could have photos of their children and some even had a photograph taken of their children if they died young, really, they posed the dead child and had it photographed. I love old photos of my ancestors they just look so funny. I know they had to stay perfectly still for up to 30 seconds but the facial expressions are just funny.
If you look at these two photos you can see that you could look normal like my great, great grandad but his wife decided to go for the Queen Victoria look or she was constipated!
In the 1870’s the telephone was invented by alexander Graham Bell. Now admittedly it would have taken a long time to filter through the country, but how cool would it have been for our ancestors to pick up the phone and call a friend or family member who lived away from them. Before you would have had to write a letter and wait for a reply whereas now they would be able to phone them up and get a reply to any questions straight away. It would also mean they could have phone for help. If your ancestor was a farmer they would have been able to phone the vet to come and help them and the vet would have been able to drive out to the farm and help (admittedly the car would be much later but still the vet could come by horse).
Later the same decade Thomas Edison made the phonograph. Now if you were lucky enough to be able to afford one you could play music in your home. No more would you have to go to the concert hall to hear music. You could listen to what your wanted not what was being played. Mind you there were probably still arguments among families over what they wanted to listen to. Dad wants Beethoven and the kids want Brahms.
The 1890’s saw the first screening of moving images. Can you imagine being able to watch a film for the first time. It must have been revolutionary for our ancestors to see.
The 1900’s brought the start of household appliances. The dishwasher had been invented in the 1890’s but the vacuum came about in 1901. No more sweeping, now your could do electric sweeping. Admittedly you’d have to pump the machines bellows while pushing it about but it was still progress. The washing machine came along later the same decade.
Think of the advances in medicine which came along in our ancestor’s life time. Some major developments came about. Small pox vaccinations, pasteurisation, anaesthetics for surgery and penicillin. How many of our ancestors survived because of these. I know my great Grandma would have survived if penicillin had been around in 1918. She died from an appendicitis and peritonitis. If she could have had penicillin she may have survived.
So we think of technological advances being modern but it isn’t. Technology has been developing since man first began to change things and will continue on into the future.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!