Historical San Francisco

The World of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

Once upon a time I wrote a dissertation entitled “Like a Machine or an Animal: Working Women of the Far West in the Late Nineteenth Century.” For that monograph, I read books, articles, newspapers, diaries, memoirs, novels, and I did a thorough data analysis of the 1880 manuscript census for San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles, looking specifically at women who worked. The origins of my Victorian San Francisco mystery series can be found in that academic work, and my desire to illustrate to the contemporary reader what life was like for women who worked in the late 19th century through fiction.

As a result, my novels and short stories draw heavily on my academic expertise. However, there is, of course, much of the historical background that I had to leave out when writing my novels and short stories, so I am using this website and my blog to do some filling in the blanks; providing links, photographs, and additional information on Victorian San Francisco.

What follows is a table of contents of blog pieces connected to my novels, Maids of MisfortuneUneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, Deadly Proof, Pilfered Promises, and my short stories. I will add to these topics from time to time through new blog posts, so if you want to be alerted when this happens, please subscribe to my blog.

M. Louisa Locke

Table of Contents:

What was San Francisco like in 1880?

Economic Structure
Social structure

Places of Interest

Golden Gate Park
Woodward’s Gardens
The Palace Hotel

Women’s Occupations

Domestic Service
Boarding House Keeping 

San Francisco Teachers: Part One
San Francisco Teachers: Part Two
San Francisco Teachers: Part Three
San Francisco Printing Industry


The Irish and Halloween
A Victorian San Francisco Christmas
Victorian Valentines
Victorian Shoplifters
19th Century Police Techniques