Getting it on: 1800s travel

INDIAN LAKE--Mary Jeanne Bialas presented "Trunks and Travel: a 19th Century Journey" at the Adirondack Museum's Cabin Fever Sunday April 7. The lecture brought to life the customs, sights and sounds of travel in late 19th Century New York state.

Exploring the preparations of a wealthy Victorian industrialist and his wife as they get ready to travel, participants learn about transportation modes, rules and etiquette of the road, proper attire, and the era's social expectations. Rather than being told life was different back then, the audience experienced it firsthand, by unpacking the trunks and other luggage and comparing the perceived needs and standards of the Victorian era to today's travel customs.

The program included an exhibit of post-Civil War travel outer garments and accessories for men, women, and children. Digital projection enabled large-scale presentation of graphics and photos of transportation and travelers.

As director of Victorian Whispers, an educational program development agency, Mary Jeanne Bialas has made New York state history come alive for audiences of all ages. As an English/Drama instructor for 34 years, she developed extensive living history programs. Using her background in costume design and her love for antique clothing, she has designed traveling multi-media exhibits adding to her vision of 19th century life.

Her programs focus on the impact of Victorian society and politics upon the fashions, gender roles, education, travel and transportation, social expectations, and life in general during the 1800s.

The Adirondack Museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, shares the history and culture of the Adirondack region in 22 exhibits on a 32-acre campus in the Central Adirondacks.  The museum is supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. For additional information, visit or call (518) 352-7311.