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The American Frugal Housewife

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  789 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Newspaperwoman, novelist, and ardent advocate of women's rights, Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880) was recognized as one of the foremost female authors of her day. Married at 25 to a charming dreamer whose irresponsible behavior quickly depleted their meager earnings, she compiled this book (based, very likely, on personal experience) for women of less than moderate means. "Sa ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 7th 1999 by Dover Publications (first published 1833)
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My best friend gave me this book because she knew I'd appreciate it, both for the historical context and the frugality. It's fun to read and full of interesting nineteeth-century housekeeping trivia, such as "Green tea is excellent to restore rusty silk." Mrs. Child is the Heloise of 1833. She is also a philosopher: "Extravagance has prevented many marriages, and rendered still more unhappy." I recommend this book.
Doreen Petersen
Apr 04, 2015 Doreen Petersen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book was just okay. Not great but not bad either. Descriptions of daily life in the early 1800s. Hard to say whether I would recommend or not. I guess everyone will just have to judge for themselves.
Sarah Anne Carter
Nov 11, 2015 Sarah Anne Carter rated it it was ok
How did housewives clean and cook in the early 1800s? I picked up this book to find out. However, I didn’t learn as much as I wanted because it’s almost written in a different language. Lost to us is having ashes to make lye, having bear or goose grease, finding whortleberries or having loaf sugar on hand.
While I found several good tips about cleaning and cooking, I would really like to see a “translation” of this book published. What is the equivalent to whortleberries today? Burnt alum? Oil of
Jan 18, 2014 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This provided a wonderful glimpse into early- to mid-19th Century life. The book is a collection of wisdom and practical advice to help the American housewife of the time make the most of all resources. Economical use of time, money, and material was the prime virtue promoted in this manuscript.

Of particular interest to me were the numerous recipes. Some seem rather ordinary, such as pancakes or pickles, but others, such as carrot pie or calf's foot jelly, are rather unusual in out time. There
Rebecca Lewitt
Vintage but interesting

The philosophy of it is fascinating and surprisingly relevant. The recipes and home remedies perhaps less so. I enjoyed it for its historical value as well ad its practical ideas.
Nov 12, 2013 Abigail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, owned
This book gives an interesting insight into life in the 1830's. It is a tough read however due to different vocabulary and terms that are no longer used. It's also a difficult read because so much information is thrown at you all at once, all the ways of helping with lockjaw for example, that you find yourself beginning to drown a bit.

Some people have complained about the section on "Educating daughter" and how it basically tells women they should be good little wives and stay home. Honestly, I
Shari Larsen
This book, written in 1832, was a freebie on Kindle. is collection of household hints, recipes and advice on being thrifty. It was an interesting read, from a historical aspect. Some of the ideas are outdated now, such as her advice on how to raise daughters (which is basically training them how to be wives and mothers) but it was an interesting look into how ordinary people lived their day to day lives back then.

The home remedies were also interesting to read about; a few we still use today, bu
Erika Mulvenna
An interesting peek into what Lydia Maria Child deems as "frugal" housekeeping in 1833. This volume also includes the text, Hints to Persons of Moderate Fortune, in which a chapter titled Education of Daughters stresses how girls should be taught from a young age that their place is in the home as homemakers, not outside the home in the public sphere of men. After reading that Lydia Maria Child was an Abolitionist and women's rights activist in her day, I was surprised at her frequent and repeat ...more
Liz Jennings
Oct 22, 2014 Liz Jennings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quick office of management of a great day today but I'll let him

go back and forth between a few days to go out for me know when you're ready in time and space administration is that a direct shortcut the same way I am so you have an amazing and the other side to go out with the best of them are going to work with the new year old girl who is this a few times but I don't know if you're interested and I have no idea how are things with the same thing to work out with you in town and forth to work
Jan 10, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, history
An intriguing bit of Americana that is actually quite timely. The author of this popular early-19th century cookbook and household instruction manual focuses on thrift. Writing in the midst of a depression, she seeks to convey the dignity of frugality and contentment. She warns against waste and extravagance and extols her vision of an ideal man or woman -- well-educated, devout, hard-working, thrifty, and content in all circumstances. These virtues, she believes, lead to true happiness. As for ...more
Feb 08, 2017 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Skimmed through this fascinating book. Many of the tips in there still apply today.
Oct 12, 2014 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best parts were certainly the introduction about living within your means, and the "Hints for Persons of Moderate Fortune", although the "General Maxims for Health are still pretty useful: "Rise early. Eat simple food. Take plenty of exercise. Never fear a little fatigue. Let not children be dress in tight clothes; it is necessary their limbs and muscles should have full play, if you wish for either health or beauty. Avoid the necessity of a physician, if you can, by careful attention to your di ...more
J. Boo
Sep 18, 2016 J. Boo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to J. by: Cheryl
I suspect a lot of the strange-but-true tips on accomplishing household tasks in the 1830s are actually strange-and-false, and the author made up her conversational anecdotes out of whole cloth, but there's a lot of interesting material herein. Using peach leaves as a spice, for example, or some now-almost-unknown leavening agents for baking: pearlash (potassium carbonate) and hartshorn (ammonium carbonate, mostly).

This is very much a niche book in terms of interest, though one which is applicab
Jun 10, 2016 Maryalene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for practical information you can use in your home, you probably won't find much here. However, it is an interesting peek into how people ran their households before we had modern conveniences. That said, the introductory chapter about the importance of frugality seems as relevant today as it was when it was written.

I wouldn't recommend this to read straight through, but it was fun to flip through.
Aug 28, 2013 Rosie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read! I would love to try some of the recipes, which would be pretty feasible. The only challenge would be there are some instances in which terminology has changed since the 1830's, but that could be easily remedied with a little bit of research. I will forever remember how to tell when a pig roasting on a spit is halfway done. Helpful hints on what is considered good economy, much of which is still practical today.
Jan 26, 2013 Jenni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-kindle
This was a long read, but if you like history, you would find it interesting. I found it fun to read all the recipes. They are a lot different and more involved that's for sure! Some of the household hints have long been disproven, but it was fun and interesting. It would probably be long and boring for anyone else who wasn't a history buff though.
Jun 18, 2010 Lissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer this book to A Mother's Book of Traditional Household Skills because the skills are outlined in a manner a little easier to follow and I find Child's essays interesting.
Jun 23, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book intrigued me from beginning to end. The underlying argument for frugality, making the most of what we have, not being wasteful, etc. is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago. It was also interesting to learn about food preservation before modern day refrigeration. The American Frugal Housewife made me thankful to live in today's era.
Apr 19, 2010 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in or before 1833, and I had a hard time with the first half of the book. I didn't know half of the things she was talking about - different roots and foods that we just don't use anymore.
Once were were done with how to cook foods and focused more on economy/morality, it was a lot more interesting.
Lisa Bihn
Feb 16, 2015 Lisa Bihn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read

A rather old fashion view. While dated information it will encourage you to live within your means and stretch what you do have.... money or your attitude towards being in debt. Wonderful point of view- very refreshing.
I saw this on the bookshelf at my museum job, and wondered if it was the same book I read when I wrote a paper on housework for my family history class (a surprisingly interesting topic, btw). It was! I remember the recipe for calf's brain! Yum!

Ben Fenderson
Dec 30, 2013 Ben Fenderson rated it liked it
Interesting snapshot of how much work went into "the good 'ol days." If you don't get caught up on calf brains and forced child labor, there is value to it. I especially like the idea of frugality as a lifestyle choice and not a coping mechanism for poverty.
Celeste Batchelor
The introductory chapter was the best part of this book. Most of the book was difficult to implement as we do not have access to most of the things they took for granted in 1832. The introductory chapter however was inspiring.
Jul 06, 2012 Denese rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
Very interesting book. It was "the" book to have if you were a housewife in 1830's. Most of the essays are still relevant today. Author fell out of favor when she spoke out on slavery issues and educating daighters.
Mar 27, 2008 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting.
Abigail Greig
A fun read

The first half was my favorite. A look back on how foodstuffs were kept, herbs harvested and used, and a collection of paragraphs on how to cook various meats etc.
Sheri Bauer
Dec 29, 2016 Sheri Bauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting tips on housekeeping. But remember that it is nearly 200 years old, so some no longer applies to our life today.
Neens Bea
Aug 27, 2015 Neens Bea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
An interesting insight into life in the US in 1932.
some "interesting" recipes. may not want to read if you're cooking or eating. slightly disgusting.
Jan 17, 2014 Aga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A way to peep into an American home of the past. See how regular people lived, cooked, entertained etc.
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Lydia Maria Child (1802--1880) was an activist and writer of novels, pamphlets, and works for children. She often used her writing to advocate for slaves, women, and Native Americans. Lydia Maria Child was born in Medford, Massachusetts, where her grandfather’s house, which she celebrates in her poem, still stands.
More about Lydia Maria Francis Child...

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“Nations do not plunge at once into ruin - governments do not change suddenly - the causes which bring about the final blow, are scarcely perceptible in the beginning; but they increase in numbers, and in power; they press harder and harder upon the energies and virtue of a people; and the last steps only are alarmingly hurried and irregular. A republic without industry, economy, and integrity, is Samson shorn of his locks. A luxurious and idle republic! Look at the phrase! - The words were never made to be married together; every body sees it would be death to one of them.” 2 likes
“Do not make children cross-eyed, by having hair hang about their foreheads, where they see it continually.” 2 likes
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