TV audiences are enamoured with housewives these days – of getting a peek into the real, everyday lives of the rich (and now famous) in Beverly Hills, Orange County, and Vancouver. The stars of these reality shows are typically wealthy, botoxed beauties, zipping around in stylish cars and shopping in upscale boutiques. But did you wonder how the upper class lived a hundred or so years ago? It’s a shame TV cameras can’t jump back in time to allow a peek into the real lives of our great great grandparents, but I recently came across the next best thing – a copy of Housewifery 1837, a how-to book for 19th century home keepers published by Sheetz Tavern and Gun Shop in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. In it, a wealth of simple recipes, health and cleaning tips; while technological advances and modern conveniences have rendered much of it outdated, it’s surprising how much is still good advice today. These snippets of household advice provide an interesting look at the way housewives of two centuries ago lived. (Minus the spa treatments and relationship drama.)
All tips adapted/excerpted from Housewifery 1837 except #8, 10 & 11, which come from The Household Cyclopedia of General Information, published in 1881.
Top image: La préparation pour le bal, 1833 (York Art Gallery)
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