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