Everyday life in the past
January 15, 2012 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a 19th century Do-It-Yourself guide . . .

I saw it in a used bookstore and foolishly left it there. It was a compendium of little how-tos -- how to sew a seam, make mutton stew, tan leather -- that together gave a great picture of everyday life in a certain era, or at least everyday need-to-know aspirations.
I know Foxfire, Farmer's Almanac, guides to everyday life. All good. But this was purer, just How to …
I don't imagine there was just one of this genre. To narrow things down, I'm focused on 1865-1870, but anything 20 years before or after would give a good read on that period.
posted by LonnieK to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management (1861)

Reprints of her books are also available.
posted by crunchland at 6:44 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mrs Beeton looks great & I will use it.
What I remember was 'farm and home' in addition to 'home ec' -- i.e., advice on mechanical problems, pasture rotation, etc. I'm hazy about it, I admit. I should have bought it.
posted by LonnieK at 6:51 PM on January 15, 2012


The American Frugal Housewife was from the 1840s, I believe.
posted by Melismata at 6:55 PM on January 15, 2012


Slightly different but: Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them.

Originally published in 1910, but found & republished during the Back to the Land movement.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:18 PM on January 15, 2012


Enquire Within Upon Everything? That had this stuff ... Here's the Project Gutenberg version and a reprint on Amazon.
posted by LyzzyBee at 7:29 PM on January 15, 2012


H. Stephens - Book of the Farm ?
posted by whowearsthepants at 8:50 PM on January 15, 2012


American Farm and Home Cyclopedia
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on January 15, 2012


A link with more images.

Here's a similar book on archive.org.
posted by Miko at 9:04 PM on January 15, 2012


It's a little early for your time period (1813) but otherwise I think you might find The Circle of the Mechanical Arts by Thomas Martin interesting. It contains detailed how-to chapters on subjects including cotton manufacture, cutlery making, enamelling, staining of paper and glass, basket making and mining. From the preface:
Upon the whole, we may recommend the Circle of the Mechanical Arts to persons of various classes and ranks in life; as to Gentlemen who are fond of mechanical pursuits, or, who, for amusement, superintend the works going on upon their own estates .... It will likewise be found extremely useful to persons engaged in trade; to youths apprenticed to learn the arts described; as well as to practical mechanics in general.
The whole thing is available on Google Books.
posted by daisyk at 8:32 AM on January 16, 2012


The American Woman's Home by Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe provides some do-it-yourself instructions. It also explores manners/conduct. Another text that might interest you is Lydia Sigourney's Letters to Young Ladies. While it focuses primarily on etiquette, it does provide insight into gender norms and roles in the mid-nineteenth century. Happy reading!
posted by rapidadverbssuck at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2012


In one of the documentaries on this FPP they mentioned Henry Stephens' 1852 Book of the Farm, which is here on Google Books. It looks like it might fit the bill.

(You might also be interested in those documentaries too!)
posted by apricot at 1:24 PM on January 16, 2012


Thanks all. These are great. Hive rules.
posted by LonnieK at 6:26 PM on January 17, 2012


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