Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK
Steampunk worlds are filled with amazing technologies, flipped gendered roles, and delightful alternatives of all kinds.
Our stories, props, and fashions are not ‘historically accurate’ according to our real world history, nor is it meant to be. Steampunk is an alternate 1800s where the future happened early.
However, real history can provide the jumping off thinking point for many things in steampunk and our community. Following the phrase “Reality is stranger than fiction”, steampunk provides us the opportunity to discover the brilliant and engaging stories of yesteryear. School textbooks are woefully incomplete, and mostly dreadfully dull, compared to the other 99% of recorded history.
Because of steampunk and the near or far grounding in the 1800s, I have learned so much more fascinating real history than I ever did in any formal schooling. These days, school history books are biased by corporations, religions, and other influencers seeking to promote their own interpretation of historical events.
Learning about actual 19th century history makes my life better not only by becoming better informed and educated, but also by expanding my perspective and understanding. Historical review can be 20/20, with years of analysis annotating each recorded fact.
There are so many interesting, and tragic, items tucked away in newspapers, journals and digests. Glimpses to the unexpected, and reassurances that our parents were right, and there is nothing new (in human behavior) under the sun.
In my interview with author Michelle Black, I learned about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, in a time when women couldn’t even vote.
Talking with James Ng about his Imperial Airship image lead me to read up, a lot, about the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Following the events of the Italian Steampunk Nord-Est social group rekindled my interest in the heritage city of Venice, rising from a site of refuge from barbarian invasions built on a bunch of sticks to become a major economic trading power to the cultural and artistic city of today.
And please read about Robert Smalls
Whatever your topical interest is, there is something valuable and entertaining to read and research about in the 1800s.