House and Home

In the past, home and family life were often different from today, although some things have stayed the same.

Few homes had electricity before 1920 so there were not many electrical appliances. Instead of electric lights, homes were lit by candles and oil lamps. If you have ever had a power cut at home you will realise you need a lot of candles to give the same light as one lightbulb.

How do you think this affected peoples’ lives? Imagine trying to read or do the washing up by candlelight!

Lots of things that are done with electrical machines today used to be done by hand. The weekly wash was backbreaking work done by hand in a tub. It was as tiring as swimming five miles, and you ended up nearly as wet. Heavy mangles or wringers squeezed the water out of the wet clothes, which were then hung on a line to dry. Carpets and rugs were brushed and beaten to remove the dirt. The first vacuum cleaners were worked by hand, not electricity. What do you think would have been easier - using an early vacuum cleaner or a brush?

In the past, there were no televisions, computers, or DVDs. Children had only a few simple toys mainly made from wood, metal or cloth.

In Victorian times collecting scraps was a popular pastime for children. This was like collecting Pokemon or football cards. Some games that children played in Victorian times, such as jigsaws, model trains and card games, are still popular today.

home_ABDMS010561 Zoetrope


Before television, people were still entertained by moving images at home – flick books and zoetropes. Try making your own zoetrope or flick book. Look at the Zoetrope in the 1800-1900 Toys and Games timeline.

Look at the Timelines. What can you find is different and what is much the same today? Find inventions and discoveries that have changed home life over time.

Think about things you have at home. Which of your things might people have had 100 years ago? Try to think what it would be like if you did not have your favourite things around you. What would your family do without modern inventions?