October 9th, 2011

Everyday Life in a Jewish Ghetto during the Early Modern Period

Setting: a Jewish quarter/ghetto within a larger city somewhere in Eastern Europe during the early modern period. This is taking place in "mythic time" so I'm okay with some anachronisms and fudging if need be, but right now I'm mainly looking towards Prague in the 1700s and 1800s for my source of historical information.

Scenario: I'm working on a short comic (woo, art school theses!) which is my own take on the Golem legend. The main characters are the local Rabbi and his family, which includes many grandchildren from teenagers just reaching marriageable age to babies. I need to know what their everyday life would *literally* look like, which is where I'm having trouble. It seems I can find all the historical political information I could want about the time period, but very little about the nitty-gritty of a normal person's life, let alone images of it. I really need images of daily life more than anything else.

Some of the most important questions I have right now are:

1. What would have the Rabbi and has family worn? What would the clothing looked like? Where can I see illustrations of said clothing?
2. How would have the houses in the ghetto been laid out, and what would the interiors of the houses have looked like? How would they have been furnished and decorated? Are there pictures I can look at?
3. What sort of chores would a 12 year old girl be expected to do? Right now I have her sweeping, embroidering and caring for chickens.
4. I need a place to hide my Golem, which is about 10 feet tall. Right now my sketches have it being hidden in a barn-like structure that holds hay and livestock. Is something like that too agrarian for the ghetto setting? If the Golem can't be hidden there, what other large structures with minimal human foot traffic might work?

Searches tried: various combinations of the following terms into Google, JSTOR, ArtSTOR, as well as into specifically Jewish museum/encyclopedia/etc websites: everyday life, daily life, historical daily life, jewish, ashkenazi, jewish quarter, ghetto, Prague, Josefov, eastern europe, 1800s, 1700s, clothing, costume, reconstruction, illustration, and so on. I get a lot of stuff about the time around the Holocaust which may mean there's some search term right under my nose I haven't noticed. I feel like my visual research powers have completely failed me!

I have also been looking through the NYPL database for books and I have a hold on a copy of A History of Jewish Costume by Alfred Rubens on hold. I'd love book references too! And thank you SO MUCH in advance to anyone that can help!

British public school slang/references?

I am writing a story set in modern day Britain. 

Character A: Sounds and comes across as lower class, mostly, but with middle class overtones in everyday speech (accent and word choice). A bit of a chameleon.

Character B: very posh, attended Eton/Harrow/Oxbridge, very immersed in that kind of upperclass world.

During a rather intense conversation between A and B, I need B to catch on that A went to a rather posh, though not top tier, public school. (Which one does not matter). I need B to catch a reference, slang word, or something of the sort during the conversation that lets him deduce A's more posh background. 

Thing is, I need it to be something that someone who has not attended such a school would not know. A bit of specialized, insider knowledge, that you don't just pick up by living in the UK [or through the Harry Potter books ;)].

I have googled a number of variations on 'british public school', 'customs', 'slang', etc, but I'm getting either information specific to a single school, or information that is well known publicly and would not be seen as an indicator of Character A's past. 

(Alternately, would it be plausible for character B to know something about customs/slang of another school than his own, since he is swimming in the same pool as a lot of other public school pupils?)

EDITED TO ADD: Character A has worked hard to lose any indication of any upper-middle class/upper class characteristics, and left the school in question a few years at least before finishing.  Ch. A DOES NOT WANT people to know about his background, is the idea. That's why I need something to jump out at Character B.