Guest Post

Guest Chick Edith Maxwell

Becky here, so excited to welcome the prolific Edith Maxwell back to Chicks on the Case. Even more exciting, she’s giving a signed copy of Judge Thee Not, her newest Quaker Midwife Mystery, to a random commenter …. squee! I’m channeling my ancestors here because everyone knows that “squee” was a constant interjection used throughout the 1800s. What? You weren’t aware of that? *checks her sources* Never mind. Better listen to Edith instead.

Fun and Odd Facts from 1889

Rose Carroll isn’t exactly a chick, being a Quaker midwife in 1889, but this author chick loves writing her and doing all the many kinds of research necessary to write historical mystery.

I’m often asked at book events if I’ve always loved history. I always say, “No, but I’ve found that I love being an amateur historian.” Here are some of the things I’ve unearthed in the process of writing the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, in which Judge Thee Not is book five.

PoliceManualCoverWhen a police officer arrested someone, he was obliged to lay his hand on the accused’s arm or shoulder while he pronounced the words. My replica copy of the 1890 The Massachusetts Peace Officer: a Manual for Sheriffs, Constables, Police, and Other Civil Officers doesn’t say why this touch is required, but I imagine it was so there would be no mistake about who was being charged.

Blind people in that era were considered to be morons and also deaf. I read this in several places, including in The World As I Hear It by Lansing V. Hall (1878). Of course I used this factoid for my intelligent, educated, tri-lingual, blind (and pregnant) character Jeanette Papka in the book. She’s an interpreter for the courts, and people reveal secrets in her presence because they assume she can’t understand. She’s happy to pass along the information to Rose, her midwife and friend.ReadingBrailleWikimedia

When I toured the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, I learned Braille was in use in France before the American version was developed. In my book, Jeanette reads Jane Austen in French because there aren’t yet many books published in Braille in English.

By the mid-nineteenth century, doctors knew about the efficacy of willow bark extract to reduce fevers, pain, and inflammation. But salicylic tea was harsh on the stomach, and chemists hadn’t yet found a way to buffer it (after they did, it was sold as Aspirin). When an infant girl Rose had delivered only two months earlier develops a high fever and her attempts to reduce it fail, Rose’s physician beau finds a way to administer a small dose of the tea to the baby and saves her life.

Tuberculosis was rampant at that time, and the germ theory of infection was well established. Women gradually began hemming their dresses shorter so as not to sweep tuberculosis into homes with their skirts.

I’ve learned lots more, of course, and am always delighted to explore new areas for the next book!

Readers: What’s your favorite historical trivia?



No stranger to judgmental attitudes in her small town, 1880s Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is nonetheless stunned when society matron Mayme Settle publicly snubs Rose’s good friend Bertie for her nontraditional ways. When Mrs. Settle is later found murdered—and a supposed witness insists Bertie was spotted near the scene of the crime—the police blame her. Rose is certain her friend is innocent, and she enlists the help of a blind pregnant client—who’s endured her own share of prejudice—to help her sift through the clues. As the two uncover a slew of suspects tied to financial intrigues, illicit love, and an age-old grudge over perceived wrongs, circumstantial evidence looms large in small minds, and Rose fears her friend will soon become the victim of a grave injustice—or worse.

MaxwellEdith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maxwell, with nineteen novels in print and four more completed, has been nominated for an Agatha Award six times. She lives north of Boston with her beau and an elderly cat, and gardens and cooks when she isn’t killing people on the page or wasting time on Facebook. Please find her at, on Instagram, and at the Wicked Authors blog.

40 thoughts on “Guest Chick Edith Maxwell

  1. When people say earlier times were better, I think of the medical care and knowledge, the treatment of people with disabilities, and the lack of women’s basic rights. I wouldn’t wanted to have lived then. Your research seems to ground your writing, and I would be pleased to receive a copy.
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot) com

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Those are really interesting! When I was a kid, I thought it was fascinating that it was safer to drink beer rather than what could be unsafe water. Also the scurvy/citrus fruit connection! I don’t know much other early trivia. Thanks!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I can’t think of any historical trivia, but the tidbits you shared are very interesting. I’d never heard of any of them. All the differences from modern times is one reason I think writing historical books would be so much more difficult than using a more current setting.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t have a favorite historical trivia.But, my grandfather died from Tuberculosis. So that has always been a interest to me. Very interesting about the women making their dresses shorter. Thank you for sharing all the very interesting history!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I remember reading about the horrific conditions and treatment in institutions for the blind when I read about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. Thank goodness for the Perkins School for the Blind. Jeanette Papka sounds like a very interesting character, and I like that she is able to take advantage of people’s prejudices ~

    Liked by 3 people

  6. It is always amazing what you learn, good and bad, when you study history. At times, I wish I’d taken more history classes in college. Not sure how I could have fit them into my schedule, however.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I wish I could think of a good bit of historical trivia I know but of course I can’t right now. (Something good will probably come to me as soon as I post this.) So I will have to go with the thing about lobsters only being fed to the servants as they weren’t considered good enough for others. Now I’m not even sure if this is true or not.
    Love “squee!” I had wondered about that and now I know. Thanks, Edith.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Okay, since I’m obsessed with food, here’s some food history trivia: Thomas Jefferson was so impressed with a noodle dish he ate while on a trip to Europe that he wrote down the recipe and had it served at a state dinner. And so came Mac & Cheese to the United States!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Welcome, Edith—and congrats on your new book! Fascinating post. Here’s one: On the wagon train, women formed a circle and held out their skirts as screens so one woman at a time could use the (non)facilities in the center with privacy.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. How interesting that they were required to lay a hand on the person they were arresting. Jeanette sounds like a fascinating character, I look forward to reading about her and seeing what happens next with Rose.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for visiting us, Edith! These were fascinating.

    When I was growing up, I used to pour over the Guiness Book of World Records and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not collections (though were the latter things true? I have doubts)…anyway, it seems as though I should be able to easily come up with at least one piece of trivia, but I am completely blanking!

    Congratulations on your latest book!!


  12. I’m such a huge fan of your books Edith and Congratulations on your release! I love to learn historical facts especially in the field of medication and nutrition.

    One item that I don’t know if mentioned in these comments was how much iodized salt was needed to help with many medical conditions/deficiencies in iodine especially for thyroid/goiter problems, and how much it’s use in the early 1920’s started to increase learning capabilities. I research all medical things that I deal with and food facts too due to allergies and have found out so many great facts that I feel have saved my life or at least helped greatly.

    I’d love to receive a copy of your book as I know and can tell how much research you do and I’m always delighted to learn facts about anything that I may not know or have forgotten.

    Thank you.

    Cynthia Blain


  13. I can’t think of anything but I really enjoyed your post! Interesting! Happy Halloween 🎃 and thanks for offering this chance to win!


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