Friday, June 11, 2010

Resources on the Victorian Era (and Steampunk)

When I talk about the Victorian Era, most people think I'm limiting myself to England. This is partly true, but partly a misnomer as well. The phrase "Victorian Era," for me at least, refers specifically to the events of world history that happened during Queen Victoria I's reign (and what a reign it was). It also refers to specific cultural changes that went on in the latter part of the 1800s across the Industrialized nations.

I limit myself to the Industrialized nations for two reasons: Friend-of-the-blog Ay-leen the Peacemaker has the market cornered on non-Eurocentric Steampunk at the blog Beyond Victoriana, and the requirements of the Steampunk aesthetic almost forces one to pay more attention to the Industrialized nations. Ay-leen will disagree with me, but that's why Beyond Victoriana is so epically awesome. If you're not reading that blog, then you definitely need to. (Ay-leen will also do some guest posts here in a few weeks.)

Anyway, since I first began writing CALLARION AT NIGHT more than a year ago, there have been several websites that have been my go-to sources for Steampunk and Victorian Era information:

Victoriana Magazine -- Kind of an ad-heavy website, but if you want a good resource in terms of furniture, fashion, and general Victorian society then this is the place to go.

VictorianWeb -- This is a very intense research experience; the fine folks at this site have detailed pretty everything you need to know about the Victorian Era in England in one fell swoop. They've also got very detailed sections on primary sources in every topic area on their site. It's helped out of innumerable tough spots to get the sense I want.'s Age of Invention page -- From Benjamin Franklin, through James Watts, and the rest of the manic innovations that peppered the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries, the page on the Age of Invention has showcased a whole heck of a lot about the inventions that flavor the world of Steampunk.

The Computer History Museum -- Charles Babbage theorized the Difference and Analytical engines in the 1820s. At the Computer History Museum's website, you can learn all about the innovations that led us straight into the Computer Age. This includes Babbage, punch cards, and all the other assorted mechanical computer goodness.

Wikipedia -- As a launching point for research, there's few sites better than Wikipedia. Yes, it's user-generated content, and yes it's notoriously unreliable for certain topics, but all that knowledge in one corner of the Internet is astounding.

Gentleman's Emporium --Dozens of photos of actual clothing worn in the 1800s and early 1900s. They also have a Steampunk section, with minimal outfits but certainly enough to get the creative juices flowing. As an added bonus, there's an Old West section for anyone who wants to write Steampunk set in the American West.

The National Maritime Museum (London-based) -- They've got ship plans, weapons of the 19th Century, and all sorts of other fun bits of information you can make use of to suss out your military's culture. Or that of your tyrannical government.

Crabfu Steamworks -- The innovator behind this site is brilliant. I'm not even talking slightly brilliant; I'm talking genius-level. He's designed and built a whole mess of radio-controlled Steampunk vehicles and showcases them on his site here. It's also the place I found resources on how to draw Steampunk tech. His Lobster tank influenced my Turtle tank quite a bit.

And lastly, though this is a new resource, I have to give props to my Twitter friends. You want to talk random knowledge? The folks on there have it in spades. I've asked questions on corsets, the proper use of a grappling hook, gunshot wounds, etc -- you name it, there's probably someone on there who knows the answer.


Joshua McCune said...

Wow, great list (and great new layout -- a hundred years from now kids are gonna wonder what those strange bound, papery things are ;)

L. T. Host said...

Holy new layout, Batman! Me likes :)

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I am bookmarking it now to help me out with my ZKM.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Ooh, fun links! Thanks for sharing!

Patty Blount said...

I'd never heard of steampunk until I "met" you, so I'm finding all of this extremely fascinating - especially Callarian at Night!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yay for cool links and the new layout! :)

I always know just where to go for my steampunkery expertise. ;)

Anonymous said...

I blush to think that I've "cornered the market" on non-Eurocentric steampunk (I'd like to think I'm opening a doorway). And I certainly don't disagree with you on the importance of technology in steampunk. I'm just also interested in the dynamics of political/social/economic power that comes with technological transference, not only in how it develops countries, but how it stratified nations and cultures in order to safeguard and control it (and thus, deny and suppress others for its sake).

But thanks for the lovely shout-out. Now I feel like I can't back out of my guest post! ^-~

~ Ay-leen

Matthew Delman said...

Bane -- Heh. They might at that.

L.T. -- Why thank you.

Elizabeth -- You're welcome.

Patty -- Thanks!

Susan -- Oh there are lots of people tons more connected than me. I'm just happy to have sparked your interest.

Ay-leen -- I've yet to find another multicultural Steampunk blog/website that gives the same breadth of attention to topic that you and your guest posters do. Oh, and HAHA! My evil plan is complete!
(There is no evil plan, I just wanted to do my villain laugh.)