Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Everything remains the same

This weekend I came across some interesting 19th century publications called “Farm and Fireside” at our wonderful used bookstore here - Prairie Archives. It was a publication out of Springfield, Ohio, and the issues I found were from 1884 and 1885. One of the sections of the publication, called “Our Household,” is full of editorial comment, recipes, patterns, household hints, etc.

I haven’t read through all the issues (I found 5) but I did read the following and had to laugh. I guess I tend to think we get way more obsessed about “fancy work” in our day than our ancestors but evidently that’s not true! Somehow I find that really comforting as I think of the laundry stacked up and the dishwasher waiting to run.

“I read, not long since, a bitter tirade against all kinds of fancy work, and while there was a great deal of truth in it in regard to the time wasted by many women over this kind of work, yet it seems to me that all work of this kind ought not to be condemned. It is nice to have a bit of lace or embroidery to pick up at odd moments, and it rests one sometimes to do something of this kind more than it would to do nothing. I confess there is a fascination about nearly all kinds of so-called fancy work which tends to lead one into too great a devotion to it, and time is used which ought to be given to reading or outdoor exercise. We must watch ourselves against this.”

from “Farm and Fireside,” Springfield, OH, September 15, 1884

By the way, if you're interested, I've posted the scanned "Our Household" sections at my website here.

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