Book Review: The American Frugal Housewife

by Lydia Marie Child

This is a great little book originally written in the early 19th century. The version I have is a copy of the twelfth edition. It looks like a period book, which is great because I can take it along when I'm re-enacting. It's like a little peek into the life of a middle class woman from the 1800s.

I suppose we could call it a self-help book, it is full of tips and tricks to help woman better manage there household. Some of it is not really applicable in modern days, for example, "Barley straw is the best for beds; dry corn husks, slit into shreds, are far better then straw.", but others are still very handy bits of of info, such as "it's best to wash leather gloves in clean suds, scarcely warm"
But it's all very interesting from a research point of view.

The first section is called "Odd Scraps for the Economical" which describes it pretty well, the two excerpts above, are from it.
Then comes "Simple Remedies" and it's full if interesting little remidies for a wide range of maladies, this last one was particularly interesting "As this book may fall into the hands of those who cannot speedily obtain a physician, it is worth while to mention what is the best to be done for the bite of a rattlesnake, Cut the flesh out, around the bite, instantly; that the poison may not have time to circulate in the blood. If caustic is on hand, put it upon the raw flesh; if not, the next best thing is to fill wound with salt, renewing occasionally."
Then comes several pages on preserving and storing various kinds of vegetables and meats.
The next is a chapter on "Common Cooking", and has instructions for making everything, pies, bread, tea, beer, etc.
And this is one of my favorite section, "Hints to Persons of Moderate Fortune" in which are several pages called "Education of Daughters". Here are the first few lines from it "There is no subject so much connected with individual happiness and national prosperity as the education of daughter. It is a true, and therefore an old remark, that the situation and prospects of a country may be justly estimated by the character of its women;".

You can buy this book in several different places on the web, but you can also read for free at Google Books.


Miss Amy said...

Oooh! That looks like a neat book! I love old books like that, don't you? :-)

Susan said...

I love them too!!! :D

B.K. said...

Same here, I like old how-to books particularly.