The Making of a Homemaker

Sustaining a home and healthy family was a full time job for middle class women in late nineteenth century America. Daniel Wise articulated the popular sentiment when he proclaimed, "Home is woman's world, as well as her empire".1 Cooking, cleaning, and child rearing were seen as women's work. To some, "Comfort for her family is provided even at the expense of many an exhausted nerve, and an aching heart". How did they handle the daunting work without the aid of microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners and carpools? Wealthier women might rely on servants while other matrons bore the brunt of work themselves. However, to almost all, a comprehensive domestic guidebook could be indispensable.