Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author
Washing on Monday.
Ironing on Tuesday.
Mending (and churning) on Wednesday.
... or is it Market on Wednesday?
No matter how the old rhyme goes, every fan of nineteenth century fiction knows that the household was the woman's domain. Women, protected by husbands, fathers, brothers (men) from the coarseness of the world, "thrived" as they strove for "middle-class" comfort and ease. Middle-class wives might be able to hire one or two part-time servants to assist with the worst of the housekeeping chores, but the bulk of housekeeping's daily chores remained Mother's.
Note that this article, published in The Waterloo Courier of Waterloo, Iowa on January 21, 1880 not only clarifies the fictional "Mrs. Livingstone" but warns other homemakers (all wives, essentially) to not work too hard.
Since when did Victorian Americans and their ideals of home and family allow room for not working diligently? After all, keeping the home comfortable for husband and children (with everything that entailed) was a woman's lifetime work. The division of labor between men and women was strict: men earned a living and women kept the home (and spent her husband's income wisely and lived within his means) and raised the children.
A Good Husband
I get a real kick out of exploring Victorian-era United States attitudes about Who Makes the Best Wives? How does a wife buy the right gift for her husband at Christmastime? How should a man properly court his chosen bride (long before he pops the question)?
This one-line quote from within this 1880 newspaper article says a great deal about Victorian attitudes about what makes a good husband. (I happen to like this one. A lot.) Granted, a woman named Anabel C. Andrews made this statement when she penned this article for publication (first) in Country Gentlemen. Her persuasive article was then reprinted in The Waterloo Courier.
I also know what it is to have my (declining) health impact my ability to work. Yuck.
Best Advice of the Lot
"A dirty floor is better than a back-ache..."
I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into nineteenth century homemaking / housekeeping (1880). Here are a handful of related articles. Click on the images, below. Thanks for reading!
You'll find many more blog articles about all things nineteenth century American West on my website:
Thanks for visiting with me today. May you appreciate your role as a twenty-first century woman (19th century history has a way of providing that appreciation in contrast), and find keeping house to be simple.
Copyright Ⓒ Kristin Holt LC
Thank you so very much for posting this article, it is so, so very interesting and oh so very true! And yes, I Thank God that I was born when I was. It was so very hard for everyone born on those days, now a days we all have it made. We just need to stop taking things for granted. We need to take one day at a time and make time to enjoy our lives in this world. I am very Blessed to have a husband like I do , he believes as we all should that actions speak louder than words. He is a very Big help to me, when 2 people get married it is a 50 - 50 sharing of everything. Thank you for your very good post. God Bless you.ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by, reading, and sharing your insights and views. I love the "conversation" part of blogging. =)
You are a very Blessed woman to have a loving and kind husband. (Me, too.) Makes ALL the difference, doesn't it? I've been very blessed by 32 years of marriage to one great guy. We've learned how to best support each other through work, play, life, hardship, ups, downs. that "lighten his/her burden" is one example of how beautiful romantic love can be.
Thanks so much, Alicia!
Kristin, I love your Victorian blogs. Like you I can't do my house cleaning, but hoping soon I can again. It's hard to keep up a home without help. Now when women are often working outside the home it's almost impossible. But back then the did take care of everything. Thankfully now we can skip and rest as needed. Sometimes I would have loved to live back then, but I would have hoped to marry someone who could afford paying for servants.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, reading, and sharing your thoughts. With you, I'd have wanted, desperately, to have hired help. Life is so much easier now, isn't it?