Kerosene gets it name from the Greek word Keros (meaning wax). Petroleum, related to the production of Kerosene, was discovered in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s and helped fund a number of American industrial fortunes. Oil for the home lamps had a new source.
Kerosene was cheap and burned brightly. Lamp development was quick and kerosene lamps were one of the primary light sources in homes during the second half of the 19th century.
The Student Lamp (not used widely in America until late 1870s) was a special type of lamp. Rather than the static construction of most lamps, a student lamp was based off of a ‘stem’ and the actual light could be ‘swung out’ or positioned over a book or paper that needed illumination.
In our modern world, light sources cast WIDE beams and can make a room bright and cheery. The Victorians had a different experience.
When writing your stories.. keep in mind where the light sources are.
When you’re in a room at night or in the center of a house where there are no windows, where is the light?
How much light comes from each source?
How does that change where people stand in a room?
How does it change their activities in the dark hours of the day?
Or, if a character lacks the funds or access to such conveniences… do they go to sleep with the sun or find alternative methods of producing light?
Facts from – A Style and Source Book – American Victorian by: Grow & Von Zweck