Michigan State University

Introductory Essay

The American Woman's Home: Or, Principles Of Domestic Science; Being A Guide To The Formation And Maintenance Of Economical, Healthful, Beautiful, And Christian Homes.
By Catherine E. Beecher And Harriet Beecher Stowe.
New York, J.B. Ford And Company; Boston, H.A. Brown & Co.; [etc.,etc.] 1869.

This is a remarkable work, both in philosophy and practicality. It is dedicated "To the women of America, in whose hands rest the real destinies of the Republic" and offers a guide to the formation and maintenance of economical, healthful, beautiful, and Christian homes.

There are aesthetic and practical considerations about house design, fireplaces, stoves, etc. The Beecher sisters were pioneers in scientific kitchen planning. They recommended specific work areas for preparation and clean-up, continuous work surfaces, standardized built-in cupboards and shelves - all ideas taken for granted today. It was obvious to the authors that with new processed foods beginning to come into the marketplace and with their expectation that most homes would soon be servantless, they concentrated on teaching contemporary homemakers how to cope with newly invented ranges, stoves, refrigerators, and other utensils and gadgets.

Healthful food and drinks, good cooking (no recipes), the value of fasting and eating less meat - all of these topics are covered in this volume. In addition there is much on care of the sick, and medical recipes; and on gardens, plants and animals. All in all, a most influential 19th century culinary item, and an importrant social history resource.

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