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Orchidelirium: Topics in Chronicling America

The craze for orchids grew in the late 19th century and the wealthy are spared no expense to obtain them. This guide provides access to materials related to "Orchidelirium" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Frail flowers for which men risk their lives." June 26, 1904. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 54. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Orchids are sold to raving Victorian woman at prices upwards of thousands of dollars. Bold men seeking wealth journey to the most dangerous parts of the Amazon in search of the perfect flower. Aptly named orchidelirium, this unique, floral craze grips the country in the late 19th century. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


19th centuryOrchids are at the height of popularity and fashion for the affluent class during the Victorian Era.
1862Charles Darwin publishes On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing.