Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Question from Anna - Children's drink in 16th century England

What are some reliable secondary sources, such as books and journal articles, that cover what children drank in 16th century England? For a university project we have to choose a topic relating to drinking in the early modern era to write a 4000 word essay on, and what children drank is something that I'd like to focus on. Although we are supposed to focus on primary sources, we have been advised to use some secondary sources as a starting point, but I am struggling to find anything!

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

What an excellent and intriguing question! But you have already run up against a very common problem: lack of source material. Children and their lives are simply not well documented for that period. One potential source might be advice manuals for parents. I've read quite a number of these, and they can be quite entertaining, though I unfortunately do not recall whether or not they address diet and drink specifically. Finding them may be a challenge, as well. I assume you have access to a university library? If so, check to see whether or not that library has a subscription to the online database "Bibliography of British and Irish History." Search under Keyword "children" using the year span 1500-1600. I get 513 hits. Then scan through those looking for anything that might be useful (though there is not much, I am sorry to say). If your library has the item, check its own bibliography for primary sources. Many of those primary sources can be accessed and read in full using "Early English Books Online," another amazing database. You might also look at stories actually written in that period (*not* stories written recently but *about* the period!) to see whether or not they include children and any mention of what they drank. Sometimes the off-hand details included in literature are the only sources we have for a particular subject.
Good luck!