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American Woman's Home : Or, Principles of Domestic Science (Illustrated)

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To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability. It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability. It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's true profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men. When the other sex are to be instructed in law, medicine, or divinity, they are favored with numerous institutions richly endowed, with teachers of the highest talents and acquirements, with extensive libraries, and abundant and costly apparatus. With such advantages they devote nearly ten of the best years of life to preparing themselves for their profession; and to secure the public from unqualified members of these professions, none can enter them until examined by a competent body, who certify to their due preparation for their duties.


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To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability. It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability. It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's true profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men. When the other sex are to be instructed in law, medicine, or divinity, they are favored with numerous institutions richly endowed, with teachers of the highest talents and acquirements, with extensive libraries, and abundant and costly apparatus. With such advantages they devote nearly ten of the best years of life to preparing themselves for their profession; and to secure the public from unqualified members of these professions, none can enter them until examined by a competent body, who certify to their due preparation for their duties.

30 review for American Woman's Home : Or, Principles of Domestic Science (Illustrated)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Colby

    As a homemaker and stay-at-home-mom in 2011, I found this book incredibly interesting. I was amazed at how much is still the same. Of course, much is different (skimmed the chapter on lamp light vs. candlelight), and quite a bit they were just wrong about (most medical information). But overall, I learned more than I thought I would. I admired the spirit and attitude of Harriet Beecher Stowe, if at times a bit too preach-y and self-indulgent. I read it more as a reference book, rather than cover As a homemaker and stay-at-home-mom in 2011, I found this book incredibly interesting. I was amazed at how much is still the same. Of course, much is different (skimmed the chapter on lamp light vs. candlelight), and quite a bit they were just wrong about (most medical information). But overall, I learned more than I thought I would. I admired the spirit and attitude of Harriet Beecher Stowe, if at times a bit too preach-y and self-indulgent. I read it more as a reference book, rather than cover to cover. And some sections I just skipped. I really don't think I will ever build a toilet made with soil so that I can add my family's poop to compost. The sections on “Care of Infants” and “Management of Young Children” I read first. "At birth, the stomach is feeble, and as yet unaccustomed to food; its cravings are consequently easily satisfied, and frequently renewed. At that early age, there ought to be no fixed time for giving nourishment. The stomach can not be thus satisfied. The active call of the infant is a sign, which needs never be mistaken." p.199 By making such a point, I'm guessing there were as many opinions to feeding on-demand (or not) back then. Take that, Mr. Ferber. Not sure how that theory fits with this one: "Do not allow a child to form such habits that it will not be quiet unless tended and amused. A healthy child should be a accustomed to lie or sit in its cradle much of the time; but it should occasionally be taken up and tossed, or carried about for exercise and amusement. Many mothers, with a little painstaking, succeed in putting their infants into their cradle while awake, at regular hours for sleep; and induce regularity in other habits, which saves much trouble." p.202 "In regard to the physical education of children, Dr. Clarke, Physician in Ordinary to the Queen of England, expresses views on one point, in which most physicians would coincide. He says, 'There is no greater error in the management of children, than that of giving them animal diet very early.'" p.205 Stowe promoted vegetarianism way before vegetarianism was cool!!! (She re-iterated this when instructing the homemaker on healthful cooking. Discouraging heavy, gross foods such as meat.) (!) The section on p.210 of disciplining children could be from the book "Love and Logic". I guess it really is logic. I also enjoyed reading WHY, in the author's view, children should be seen and not heard (p.156). Society and families have changed very much in this regard. Children's "chatter" is now a point of view and is not a distraction, but something to be nourished. I also gravitated towards the sections on organizing a kitchen, and cooking. That someone would document "minutiae of family work" as detailed on 171 leaves me feeling I should be thankful for their effort at allowing me such a precious glance...even if it is a bit overbearing. And not at all encouraging to my wistful thought of making my own bread: "Although bread-making seems a simple process, it yet requires delicate care and watchfulness. There are fifty ways to spoil good bread; there are a hundred little things to be considered and allowed for, that require accurate observation and experience." p.233 Specific comments regarding cooking that struck me: "Though this is not the common opinion of medical men, they all agree that, in America, far too large a portion of the diet consists of animal food. As a nation, the American are proverbial for the gross and luxurious diet with which they load their tables; and there can be no doubt that the general health of the nation would be increased by a change in our customs in this respect. To take meat but once a day, and this in small quantities, compared with the common practice, is a rule, the observance of which would probably greatly reduce the amount of fevers, eruptions, headaches, bilious attacks, and the many other ailments which are produced or aggravated by too gross a diet." p.104 "There is no country where an ample, well-furnished tables is more easily spread, and for that reason, perhaps, none where the bounties of Providence are more generally neglected. Considering that our resources are greater than those of any other civilized people, our results [in cooking and preparing food] are comparatively poorer." p.129 How often have we been hearing that lately? Some things in this book seem like completely new modes of thought, but were not even new in 1869. Amazing. Some things never change. Another example: "There is no duty of those persons having control of a family where principle and practice are more at variance than in regulating the dress of young girls, especially at the most important and critical perilous of life, It is a difficult duty for parents and teachers to contend with the power of fashion, which at this time of a young girl's life is frequently the ruling thought, and when to be out of the fashion, to be odd and not dress as all her companions do, is a mortification and grief that no argument or instructions can relieved. The mother is often so overborne that, in spite of her better wishes, the daughter adopts modes of dress alike ruinous to health and to beauty." p.122 Of course, she was talking about the dangers of corsets pulled too tight, so that the young girl would look thinner. But whatever. The paragraph that left the most impression on me, because of where I am specifically in my life right now, and in my walk with God, was on page 166. Most women of the C21st would whole-heartedly disagree, and be offended. For me, it is just true. "A woman, therefore, needs to cultivate the habitual feeling that all the events of her nursery and kitchen are brought about by the permission of our Heavenly Father, and that fretfulness or complaint in regard to these is, in fact, complaining at the appointments of God, and is really as sinful as unsubmissive murmurs amid the sorer chastisements of his had. And a woman who cultivates this habit of referring all the minor trials of life to the wise and benevolent agency of a heavenly Parent, and daily seeks his sympathy and aid to enable her to meet them with a quiet and cheerful spirit, will soon find it the perennial spring of abiding peace and content."

  2. 5 out of 5

    J L Kruse

    First published in 1869, "The American Woman's Home" was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sister, Catharine E. Beecher, an early advocate for women's higher education. Meeting the Beechers inside their books, essays and sermons is an introduction to the world of reserved radicals who seeded their beliefs throughout nineteenth century American society. Endearingly unsubtle, one knows where one stands with a Beecher within a few short sentences, and this Beecher bluntness surfaces on the f First published in 1869, "The American Woman's Home" was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sister, Catharine E. Beecher, an early advocate for women's higher education. Meeting the Beechers inside their books, essays and sermons is an introduction to the world of reserved radicals who seeded their beliefs throughout nineteenth century American society. Endearingly unsubtle, one knows where one stands with a Beecher within a few short sentences, and this Beecher bluntness surfaces on the first page of "The American Woman's Home": "It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's true profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men." Having dispensed with the raison d’être, the rest of the volume is a delightful stroll through planning kitchens, decorating homes and planting gardens. Some of the advice is wonderfully arcane (how to install your own self-deodorizing "earth closet"), and some is still in use today (incorporating work spaces in kitchen design and using fresh, local produce). Witty and fun, the passion for living well regardless of economic status shines throughout, making it both engaging and ultimately contemporary.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erika Mulvenna

    An interesting look into the view of the ideal American housewife in the mid to late 1800's. I was surprised to find that this book, like many other more modern books, perpetuates the myth of the housewife - that if the homemaker can only see the importance of her work for the family - and for her country - that she will excel and be happy in her position. She may not enter the "public" sphere of business and politics meant only for men, but is to stay only in the "private" sphere of the home. M An interesting look into the view of the ideal American housewife in the mid to late 1800's. I was surprised to find that this book, like many other more modern books, perpetuates the myth of the housewife - that if the homemaker can only see the importance of her work for the family - and for her country - that she will excel and be happy in her position. She may not enter the "public" sphere of business and politics meant only for men, but is to stay only in the "private" sphere of the home. Meanwhile, and ironically, the women who wrote this text pursued their careers openly in the "public" sphere of men while deeming their sisters in womanhood to stay in the dark, dusty closet of the home.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I read this in Grad School and was amazed at its overall repressive, conservative message. Written in the 1800s, The American Woman's Home is an instructive guide that teaches women how to structure their homes, their lives, and their relationships. You'll find detailed illustrations on many topics; one focuses on how to organize your kitchen. But you'll also discover conservative ideology about the definition of appropriate female behavior in society. Many ask: why read such a depressing pictur I read this in Grad School and was amazed at its overall repressive, conservative message. Written in the 1800s, The American Woman's Home is an instructive guide that teaches women how to structure their homes, their lives, and their relationships. You'll find detailed illustrations on many topics; one focuses on how to organize your kitchen. But you'll also discover conservative ideology about the definition of appropriate female behavior in society. Many ask: why read such a depressing picture of women in culture? Why submit ourselves to such scrutiny? The answer is obvious; we, as students, must engage in what is pleasurable as well as what is repressive. Through this exploration, we learn about our perceptions or illusions, and perhaps an ability to decipher the two. But even if we come up empty handed - the process of critical thinking is always relevant to our lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Doyle

    Although Miss Beecher is a wee bit of an icy old spinster, there was loads of incredibly useful information in this book. It covers everything from planning the layout of a house to best maximize the efficiency of ventilation as well as housework all the way to in-depth scientific explanations detailing the workings of the human body. This was written for women who are SERIOUS homemakers, caretakers, and mothers. More of a reference guide than a pleasure read though.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donnagarnet

    I love reading old cookbooks & "house wife manuals". This is by sisters Catherine Beecher & Harriet Beecher Stowe. It's fascinating to learn how things have changed: for example, the Beecher sisters considered what we know as nutrient-rich "super foods" harmful. Some of the projects to make a home attractive are still doable. Others might be if my copy had downloaded with illustrations intact so I could see what the finished product looks like. This is a very interesting "look back". I love reading old cookbooks & "house wife manuals". This is by sisters Catherine Beecher & Harriet Beecher Stowe. It's fascinating to learn how things have changed: for example, the Beecher sisters considered what we know as nutrient-rich "super foods" harmful. Some of the projects to make a home attractive are still doable. Others might be if my copy had downloaded with illustrations intact so I could see what the finished product looks like. This is a very interesting "look back".

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A bit boring to read straight through, but a good reference about home life in the 19th century.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    Just couldn't get through it. Keeping it in the Kindle file and maybe will try again someday. Just couldn't get through it. Keeping it in the Kindle file and maybe will try again someday.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Give me Mrs Beeton anyday!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    very helpful and thorough on housekeeping (not to mention attitudes toward women and religion) in Victorian times.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erica Reagan Powell

    "Women's profession embraces the care and nursing of the body in the critical periods of infancy and sickness, the training of the human mind in the most impressible period of childhood, the instruction and control of servants, and most of the government and economics of the family state. These duties of woman are as sacred and important as any ordained to man; and yet no such advantages for preparation have been accorded to her, nor is there any qualified body to certify the public that a woman "Women's profession embraces the care and nursing of the body in the critical periods of infancy and sickness, the training of the human mind in the most impressible period of childhood, the instruction and control of servants, and most of the government and economics of the family state. These duties of woman are as sacred and important as any ordained to man; and yet no such advantages for preparation have been accorded to her, nor is there any qualified body to certify the public that a woman is duly prepared to give proper instruction in her profession." Catharine Beecher set out to change that reality by establishing schools where women could develop domestic skills, and by writing this, the first home economics textbook. Published in 1869, this substantive book, where it is too outdated to be of practical use, is a fascinating window into 19th century life at home. Not all of it is terribly archaic, however; much of the book is surprisingly applicable and encouraging to women of all walks of life. Catharine Beecher never married or had any children of her own, yet she never wavered in her conviction that even the independent woman's place is at home, and that it is her God-given duty to live sacrificially in order to care for children, the sick, the aged, the poor, the neglected, the lost, and the ignorant. Very inspiring read for an aspiring homemaker.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Higgins

    This book has been extremely helpful in answering a lot of my questions as I am writing "Once Upon a Time in Iowa". It has changed my understanding of life in the mid 1800s -- including life for women. This book showed me how to build a house, medical beliefs of the time period, the exact dynamics of a cooking stove --I want one of those old fashioned stoves, by the way -- and so much more. Some of the stuff I learned is still relevant to today. I strongly recommend this book for its historical This book has been extremely helpful in answering a lot of my questions as I am writing "Once Upon a Time in Iowa". It has changed my understanding of life in the mid 1800s -- including life for women. This book showed me how to build a house, medical beliefs of the time period, the exact dynamics of a cooking stove --I want one of those old fashioned stoves, by the way -- and so much more. Some of the stuff I learned is still relevant to today. I strongly recommend this book for its historical value.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol Fischer

    I reviewed the most value from the introduction, placing the book in it's time and place. I reviewed the most value from the introduction, placing the book in it's time and place.

  14. 5 out of 5

    karla

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Harston

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa De Wilde-Tyler

  17. 5 out of 5

    JuJuBee

  18. 5 out of 5

    Willa Brown

  19. 4 out of 5

    emily buck

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura Wiseman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Tillman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bobbie G

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike Radice

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dodi Aguswandi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mariecor

  27. 4 out of 5

    jennifer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eileen O'Finlan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

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