June 11, 2012
As of this week, DEATH BY PETTICOAT: AMERICAN HISTORY MYTHS DEBUNKED is available at bookstores across the country. The book contains 63 myths, most of which are shortened forms of some of the myths I’ve posted on this blog over the past couple years, with a color illustration for each one. Published by Colonial Williamsburg with Andrews-McMeel Press, it retails for $12.99. That’s a great price for an impulse item like this, and it’s also a good gift idea. At my lecture and book signing last week, several people bought two and one woman bought six!
A request, please. This book is a natural for gift shops at museums, national parks, historic houses, or battlefield parks, so if you have any connection to these, I’d appreciate it if you would point them to this blog and this book. It’s available to shops from all the major wholesale book distributors. And the next time you visit your local public library, in person or online, please request that they purchase DEATH BY PETTICOAT so lots of people can have access to it. Most libraries have a request process whereby card holders can ask the library to consider purchasing a particular book. Then you can read it for free!
Meanwhile, I’m collecting myths for Book Two, so keep those suggestions coming. I don’t have enough yet, but I’m getting close.
January 29, 2012
It isn’t just history myths that need debunking. Now and then, books do too. Here’s a list I thought you’d enjoy of the “10 Bestselling Books That Were Later Debunked” and why. Were you taken in by any of them?
DEATH BY PETTICOAT: AMERICAN HISTORY MYTHS DEBUNKED is now available for reviewers on http://www.netgalley.com. The book itself won’t be in bookstores until June 5.
If anyone has a connection to a publication that might run a review of the book, I’d appreciate it if you’d consider writing one. The publisher has given permission for reviewers to excerpt up to 3 myths of their choice, if that makes it easier (I think it does!) Actual hard copies of the book will be available for reviewers in a couple months, and if you’d like to have one, send your name and address directly to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me where your review would appear, and I’ll forward the information to the publisher.
May 7, 2010
Burning to death sounds gruesome, and there were some instances where women died of burns when their long skirts, or petticoats, came too close to the hearth fire. And by today’s standards, childbirth did take a shocking toll on women right up until the twentieth century.
But historians who have studied death records from the first couple centuries of American history have determined that the leading cause of death for both men and women during this era was disease. The Death by Petticoat myth is a huge exaggeration. How did it come about? DAR Curator Alden O’Brien speculates that “the horrific nature of the accident may have made the rare incidents more famous and memorable, making them stick in people’s minds and seeming more common.”
An interesting aside: In the 1970s when polyester became widely available, many museums began using these cheaper, “improved” fabrics for their historical costumes. They soon switched back. Polyester brought several unexpected problems, one of which was its tendency to melt or burn very quickly when it came into contact with candle flame, hearth fires, or camp fires. Traditional fabrics–cotton, linen, and wool–do not easily burst into flame, which is probably why there were not more instances of death by petticoat.