Entertainment in the 19th Century

The Daughter of Jairus

The Daughter of Jairus

Imagine you are living in the 19th Century, without television and computers for entertainment. What sort of things might you do to have fun and be entertained?

Theatre Halls were numerous and performances were regularly given by theatre troupes, ventriloquists, hypnotists, poets, comedians, choirs and orchestras. Circuses came to town and set up in parks and public places.

There were fêtes, carnivals, art exhibitions and lessons in singing, dancing and cooking to attend. Talks were given by visiting notables, scientists, preachers, and people who had been adventuring in different countries.

Depending on your social status, you could join various social groups such as ‘The Gleaners of Nature’, sewing and craft groups, sporting and church groups, as well as various lodges and friendly societies. Well-to-do ladies would often join committees and organise events such as bazaars, fêtes and exhibitions to raise money for hospitals, churches and charitable exhibitions.

However, in the 19th century, working hours were long and the pay inadequate. Many working people were poor and could not afford to attend the theatre or have the time to join social groups, as they had families and children to look after.

This information can be found in original documents contained in the Lamb Collection and the Dundee City Archives.

A large portion of the material has been digitised and is available for online viewing at Resources for Learning in Scotland (RLS).