University Museums

Title: Fainting Couch
Name: Fainting Couch
Dimensions: 30 × 79 × 27 in. (76.2 × 200.7 × 68.6 cm)
Classification: Furniture
Credit Line: Gift of Warren Israel. In the Farm House Museum Collection, Farm House Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: 85.1.1
More Information
This black leather chaise lounge, or fainting couch as it was called, was very important to the Victorian household. Women wore corsets lined with whale bone or metal, which were pulled tight enough to take several inches off a woman's waist. Women suffered from many medical complications, shortness of breath, and fainting spells from the excessively tight corsets. A woman could lay down if she felt a spell coming on or she could faint with dignity onto a chaise lounge. It was only acceptable to faint with a chaise lounge to rest on or to have a man catch you. Women would keep smelling salts on their person to buy themselves some time until they could find a fainting couch -- or a man.