household

Hints for Home Comforts from 1855

This list appeared in the November 1855 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform and educate the women of America. In addition to extensive fashion descriptions and plates, the early issues included biographical sketches, articles about mineralogy, handcrafts, female costume, the dance, equestrienne procedures, health and hygiene, recipes and remedies and the like.

Hints for Home Comforts

  • A short needle makes the most expedition in plain sewing.
  • When you are particular in wishing to have precisely what you want from a butcher’s, go and purchase it yourself.
  • One flannel petticoat will wear nearly as long as two, if turned behind part before, when the front begins to wear thin.
  • People in general are not aware how very essential to the health of their inmates is the free admission of light into their houses.
  • A leather strap, with a buckle to fasten, is much more commodious than a cord for a box in general use for short distances; cording and uncording is a nasty job.
  • Sitting to sew by candlelight by a table with a dark cloth on it is injurious to the eyesight. When no other remedy presents itself, put a sheet of white paper before you.
  • People very commonly complain of indigestion; how can it be wondered at, when they seem, by their habit of swallowing their food wholesale, to forget for what purpose they are provided with teeth.
  • Never allow your servants to put wiped knives on your table, for, generally speaking, you may see that they have been wiped with a dirty cloth. If a knife is brightly cleaned, they are compelled to use a clean cloth.
  • There is not anything gained in economy by having very young and inexperienced servants at low wages; they break, waste, and destroy more than an equivalent for higher wages, setting aside comfort and respectability.
  • No article in dress tarnishes so readily as black crape trimmings, and few things injure it more than damp; therefore, to preserve its beauty on bonnets, a lady in nice mourning should in her evening walks, at all seasons of the year, take as a companion an old parasol to shade her crape.
  • A piece of oil-cloth (about twenty inches long) is a useful appendage to a common sitting-room. Kept in the closet, it can be available at any time to place jars upon, etc, which are likely to soil your table during the process of dispensing their contents; a wing and duster are harmonious accompaniments to the oil-cloth.
  • In most families many members are not fond of fat; servants seldom like it—consequently there is frequently much wasted; to avoid which, take off bits of suet fat from beefsteaks, etc, previous to cooking; they can be used for puddings. With good management, there need not be any waste in any shape or form.
  • Nothing looks worse than shabby gloves; and, as they are expensive articles in dress, they require a little management. A good glove will last six cheap ones with care. Do not wear your best gloves to concerts or assemblies where full dress is not required— the heat of the gas, etc, gives a moisture to the hands, that spoils the gloves; do not wear them in very wet weather; as carrying umbrellas, and drops of rain, spoil them.
  • A given quantity of tea is similar to malt— only giving strength to a given quantity of water, as we find therefore any additional quantity is waste. Two small teaspoonfuls of good black tea, and one three parts full of green, are sufficient to make three teacupfuls agreeable, the water being put in, in a boiling state at once; a second edition of water gives a vapid flavor to tea.
  • It may sound like being over particular, but we recommend persons to make a practice of fully addressing notes, etc, on all occasions; when, in case of their being dropped by careless messengers (which is not a rare occurrence), it is evident for whom they are intended, without undergoing the inspection of any other parties bearing a similar name.
  • Children should not be allowed to ask for the same thing twice. This may be accomplished by parents, teacher (or whoever may happen to have the management of them), paying attention to their little wants, if proper, at once, when possible. The children should be instructed to understand that, when they are not answered immediately, it is because it is not convenient. Let them learn patience by waiting.
  • We know not of anything attended with more serious consequences than that of sleeping in damp linen. Persons are frequently assured that they have been at a fire for many hours, but the question is as to what sort of fire, and whether they have been properly turned, so that every part may be exposed to the fire. The fear of creasing the linen, we know, prevents many from unfolding it, so as to be what we consider sufficiently aired; but health is of more importance than appearances; with gentleness, there need be no fear of want of neatness.
  • If the weather appears doubtful, always take the precaution of having an umbrella when you go out, particularly in going to church; you thereby avoid incurring one of three disagreeables: in the first place, the chance of getting wet— or encroaching under a friend’s umbrella— or being under the necessity of borrowing one, consequently involving the trouble of returning it, and possibly (as is the case nine times out of ten) inconveniencing your friend by neglecting to return it. Those who disdain the use of umbrellas generally appear with shabby hats, tumbled bonnet ribbons, wrinkled silk dresses, &c. &c., the consequence of frequent exposure to unexpected showers, to say nothing of colds taken, no one can tell how.
Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

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