I spent lots of hours looking through all the crochet books--a definite time drainer (for me anyway).
I found it fascinating to see what people wore during those time periods and not just the outer clothes either. Okay, I think I'd better stop there lest I get myself in hot water. I'll just say that some of those nightgowns are amazing--the detail work that went into them is mind-boggling! Obviously some people (and it wasn't the pioneers) had some time on their hands.
One of these days I'm going to try Irish crochet, but I intend to simplify my designs quite a bit and make them a lot less cluttered and gaudy looking!