In the 19th century, well before the invention of the Internet, Americans used “leisure time” for a variety of pastimes, one of which was collecting. People obsessed over crazes that swept society—travel, geology, shells, and “orchidelirium,” to name a few, which were diversions from work and the grim realities of the era but also a way to expand on a newfound understanding of the world. Collecting was a serious business; and in time, improved standard of living, transportation technology, manufacturing, and the rise of consumerism enabled Americans across gender and class, to participate in the science.
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