Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife

Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife. Domestic Labor, Mrs. Louisa E. Smith.
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife
Promoting women's domestic labor -- paid or unpaid -- as skilled labor
Home Washing. A Practical Guide to the Housewife

London: Bemrose and Sons, 1890. First edition. Original publisher's cloth over card, printed on spine and boards. Printed endpapers. Some bubbling to cloth of spine and rear board; light toning and soiling. Overall tight and square. Internally fresh, unmarked, and complete: [2, adverts], xii, 106, [2, adverts]. Uncommon institutionally and in trade, OCLC reports the present "laundry Bible" at 7 institutions (none in North America); it does not appear in the modern auction record, and the present is the only copy on the market.

A former dressmaker and an instructor at the Forsyth Technical College, Louisa E. Smith evidenced that women's domestic labor, whether paid or unpaid, was skilled labor. Noting that she had "devoted years of thought and study...to the many recipes, chiefly connected with the cleaning of fancy articles such as crewel work, silds, laces etc. which will be found within this book," Smith explains in her introduction that there is "a desire exhibited by the rising generation for such practical hints on technical knowledge." Anxious about the responsibilities of running a complex household, concerned about hygiene, and ready to make use of new technologies, young housewives could benefit from a book of "carefully tested" methods approved by a professional. In many ways, Smith's book deconstructed class boundaries under which "ladies of rank have been among the first...to busy themselves with the higher levels of laundrywork which require the skillfull and delicate handling that training alone can give." It made such training accessible in book form that was "at a price which should place it in reach of all," and which invited women of other classes to maintain properly their own home and clothes. In addition to the economic benefits of expensive items lasting longer, there were social advantages as well, as these families could present themselves as more upwardly mobile. A compendium of practical instructions, Home Washing established Smith's reputation as a key authority on domestic work and promoted awareness of the valuable skills required for household labor.
(Item #4654)

Price: $1,250