London: John W. Parker, 1844. First edition. Original publisher's cloth blinding with blind stamped on front and rear boards, measuring 101 x 165mm. Gentle rubbing and shelfwear to boards; some small chips and tears near base of spine. Yellow endpapers. Collates viii, 124, 8: complete, including frontis and six additional illustrations. Quite rare in trade and institutions, this title has not appeared at auction and is listed at only 4 libraries according to OCLC.
A scarce and important example of an employment manual treating women's domestic labour as a serious profession. Rather than assuming household work as a natural feminine role, Instructions in Household Matters assumes that women entering service have been educated, have received career training, and should continue to improve and hone their professional skills by staying up to date with new practices and technologies. This slim, pocket sized volume intended to help women in their daily tasks, ensuring that they met employers' expectations for downstairs tasks such as the washing of fine linens and the maintenance of silver and china, as well as upstairs responsibilities like the safe lighting of fires, care of household papers, and etiquette of serving at tableside. Toward the book's rear, the author included 5 narratives allegedly by housemaids and other servants, documenting common situations and their proper responses. A fascinating work that encourages young women and their employers to see the positions of housemaids, ladies' maids, kitchen and nursery staff as professional and specialized career paths. (Item #2670)