A compilation of articles in the Waukesha Freeman during 1887 and 1888 concerning women's issues.
September 22, 1887
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Health and Leisure for Farmers' Wives.
In calling your attention to this subject there is little need for me to refer to the prevalent opinion that farmers' wives, especially those of the well to do class, are more often over worked and overtasked mentally with the many burdensome cares which come within their province than are the members of any other class of workers. This has come to be accepted as a fact. I might almost say an inevitable fact. Consequently our best educated and most intelligent women do, and will, shun this position preferring almost any other, just as young men have in times past and do still to some extent shun the life of a farmer. But modern machinery and a modern education have been changing methods of farming until its most obnoxious features are disappearing. There have also been many things done to lighten the labor of women, but the demands upon her are also getting to be more exacting so that while the thrifty farmer gets every year more liberty and more leisure, his wife is each year struggling with added cares, and is expected at the same time to appear to be a woman of leisure ready to appreciate the fact that the best of Heaven's gifts have been poured out for her with a liberal hand.
Now I consider it the duty of every farmer's wife to consider herself responsible for this state of things and for its eradication also. It should not be, and need not be, that the farmer's wife, or any other class of women should feel called upon to accept any more than a fair share of life's burdens. No one, not even yourself has a right to impose upon your tasks that will prematurely destroy your body which was given you for a dwelling place. It is your duty to see that this faithful servant of your is well cared for, and in order to direct yourself wisely you must have time to think and to plan when you are not overweary, and this time you must learn to take, for you can not see clearly while your body is struggling with physical exhaustion. If you would win success you must have a program some points of which you invariably keep. Charity, it is said often begins at home. So should justice. First of all never forget that you are of more consequence than money. Remember that there are interests within your keeping more essential than even the material interest of your family. But in learning to utilize all the small helps within your reach you can do much toward securing that liberty which shall reward you for your efforts and bless mankind in general. It is true that you cannot get as much help from machinery as does the farmer. Most of you have sewing machines and use them, but other machines such as washing machines, meat choppers, apple and potato parers and slicers are often not used for want of a suitable room in which they may be kept in readiness for use. Thus with laundry work. Carrying heavy pails, emptying tubs, etc. doubles the labor, which a room fitted with stationery tubs, water pipes, and the like would wholly obviate.
In the matter of hired help, though there are plenty of workers in the world who are willing to give fair service for fair pay, the farmer's wife demands too many hours and a knowledge of too many trades to make her service very desirable. Girls are human, and to attract their services the work must be made attractive.
One excellent way to economize time and vigor for the housewife is to insist that all within your gates from the master down, without exception, shall make you the least trouble compatible with comfort, not the most. It is right that this rule should extend even to guests. I feel sure there would be nothing pleasanter for a guest than an orderly household in which there is no clanking of the chains which are supposed to be holding in hopeless bondage the farmer's wife. Let each one be expected to return to the proper place whatever he may have had use for. In some families the men and children seem to feel privileged to leave lying around anything which they have had in their hands, whether it be newspapers, books, clothing, fishing tackle, or anything else. Children reared is such a home will be sure to grow in such a way as to be perpetually annoying in somebody's home with their disorderly ways, even as long as they live, besides being a constant source of irritation and weariness to you.
Now is it not worth your while to refuse to be one of that much lauded and more pitied class of overworked women, by accepting a nineteenth century interpretation of women's destiny and duty, and reveal yourselves to the world as a class capable of taking a stand for right and maintaining it? In the struggle of self as against the world of forces you must not give up the surveillance of your life and health, spiritual, moral, and physical. Consider what it would mean to posterity if you could bring your vocation of motherhood, strong, sound, elastic bodies, governed by vigorous, capable intellects and sustained by loving, joyous confident souls. A few generations of children born under such circumstances and life would smile upon us with a new meaning.
From Mrs. Wm. Frazier's Address before the Farmer's Institute at Mukwonago.
October 20, 1887
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To Our Readers.
The Woman's World, after several weeks of a precarious, unsettled, and highly unsatisfactory existence, has at last obtained what it is hoped will prove a substantial and lasting basis. The department was created in the hope and belief that it might become of real interest and benefit to the women of Waukesha county, and as a possible furtherance of this desirable end it has been decided, after some measure of consideration and consultation, to follow the plan adopted by many family journals, and open these columns to local correspondence.
Whether this will prove the most interesting, profitable, and therefore permanent course, remains of course to be seen, and it must be decided by the women of the county; but it has seemed to the editor that, our readers being largely farmers' wives and daughters with almost identically the same industries and interests, a common meeting place where questions of mutual interest might be discussed, experiences and observations related, and suggestions exchanged, would be welcome, and productive of both pleasure and profit.
We would make forcible the remainder however, that if you wish such a character to this department, if you would like to read the thoughts and experiences of your sister, you must help to make the character, you must write your own thoughts and experiences for the benefit of others. Let there be no fear of being unable to write suitably for print. We do not design furnishing a platform for orators, or a theatre for literary efforts, and plain facts put into English will fulfill all that is required. The home, the children, flowers, etiquette, cookery, poultry, books, anything in fact that since it interests you may be fairly inferred to contain interest for some one else, will be suitable subjects for discussion, and he who writes because he has something to say, need never envy the professional this technical skill.
Finally it may perhaps be as well to state that the editor in charge is a woman, one deeply interested in the work, the welfare, and the future of women, and who will be glad to take all pains to further the interests and the happiness of the women of Waukesha county. As an earnest of good faith in this statement a series of articles, beginning next week and running through seven or eight issues, entitled Her Daily Bread, will have place in these columns, descriptive of the different occupations by which our home girls may earn their own living. These papers will claim no merit whatever except a local one, but inquiry and investigation will be made in order to make them perfectly reliable as to requirements, hours, wages, etc. After these, other papers of general local interest will follow - not it is hoped from the hand of the editor only.
December 1, 1887
Ways to Save Strength and Minutes.
Have a shelf above the pastry table, on which keep in covered and labeled boxes, salt, cornstarch, baking powder, and spices of all kinds; also grater, sifter, egg beater, flour dredge, and spoons of various sizes. It is also well to give place to receipt books and tissue paper for lining cake pans, as all these things within arm's length of the worker will save numberless steps during a morning's baking.
Have chair handy to drop into while beating eggs and preparing vegetables; it will be a great saving of strength; and a paper or magazine to fill up the leisure moments while watching the baking and boiling will refresh the mind as well, for kitchens are weary places. Have a large Japan waiter on which to carry things between cellar, icebox, and table, so making one trip do the work of several.
Have plenty of closet room, so that a dozen articles will not have to be moved to find one. Have matches beside the lamp or gas jets, also a receptacle for the refuse ends. Have broom, brush, and dustpan for every floor in the house, and do not run with one set from basement to attic. Have wire lines for clothes, thus saving putting up and taking down long lines of rope every washday.
Have a sewing room or some nook or corner furnished with table and all materials for work, which will not have to be cleared up every night during a busy season of sewing.
Finally a little forethought and planning will save many minutes and steps.
B (From Frances C. Mister's Home Corner in Athol Mass, Chronicle.)
(Theodora Winton, editor)
December 29, 1887
Kitchen Help on the Farm.
Perhaps no problem is of more consequence to women on farms than the help problem, and it grows more and more a problem difficult of solution. The ways of civilization grow more and more complex, and help must be had to dispose of some of the complexities. And just here comes the great trouble: If the weary housewife succeeds in getting the needed kitchen help, it is too often not a help but a hindrance. So few girls are trained, even in the most careful homes to do work thoroughly and well, and the careful housekeeper is tempted to go on alone with burdens too great for her strength, when she finds dinginess and streaks in the washing, waste in the cooking, waste of fuel, milk dishes not washed thoroughly, corners of baking tins with suspicious looking remnants in them and so on, ad infinitum. And the girl – well, she has a hard time of it too. She generally must work more hours than the hired man, and for much less than half the pay, and she does as well as she knows how, and it seems to her as if she is never praised but always blamed. And year by year, there are fewer girls who are willing to do kitchen work on a farm, and year by year there are more perplexed, over worked wives of farmers who are losing much that makes life worth living, because there is just so much that must be done, and they are not content that it should be half done. It is very true that there is a keen happiness in doing any kind of work well; it is very true that no housekeeper can be really happy if her house is not truly home, but it is also true that she cannot do all these things which make a home and at the same time read as much as she should and keep her mind actively employed by the necessary contact with minds outside of her own home.
And as it grows more difficult for her to find relief, she must devise some means to do away with some of the work. Most women on farms could manage the daily routine of housework and have some time for reading, some time for outdoor employment, if even a small part of their work could be done by skilled workers elsewhere. There is perhaps no work on the farm which takes more of a woman's strength and ambition and hope and courage than the weekly washing and ironing; and there is no work which is generally more poorly done if she entrusts it to other hands than her own. I have been wondering for some time if it would not be possible for each little farming community to dispose of this problem and make it possible thereby for the farmer's wife to be independent of incompetent kitchen help, enabling her to do her own housework in all the daintiness which she would like and at the same time providing really clean clothing for the household. It would be such a relief if the washing and ironing could be taken entirely out of the house and could be done by thoroughly trained washwomen. (I don't mean done as city laundry work is generally done, for that is an abomination, a covering up of dirt by polish; and unironed cleanliness if preferable to polished dirt.)
Would it be impossible to have a small laundry built in each neighborhood and have this work done outside of the farm house? Or if Miss Willard's suggestion of a well trained mender for each neighborhood, who should go about from house to house on stated days and do all the mending for the family, could be carried out, it would be a great help. What do you say, sisters on the farm? Can we not make this a practical idea? I wish we might discuss this and see if it be not possible to find a way out of the difficulty.
Alura Collins HollisterWaukesha Freeman
January 12, 1888
Every woman who has a question to ask, an experience to relate, or a suggestion to offer, will be welcome to the Woman's World. Theodora Winton, Ed.
On Kitchen Work.
Mrs. Hollister's suggestions, made in this department a fortnight ago relative to kitchen work on the farm, are worthy of consideration by every reader of the Freeman. It is so patent to everyone with the least experience or observation that woman's life on the farm is hard and wearing and spirit depressing, that any suggestions tending toward its amelioration will be generally received with thankfulness. And this is true whether the suggestion can be carried into effect with real practical benefit or not, for what people talk about they think about, and what they think about they are going to improve if you only give them time.
Kitchen "help" is one of the most important questions of the day. It is really serious in the country and smaller towns, for what few girls there are willing to go into domestic service flock to the cities, where they get more pay and have more or perhaps rather more attractive advantages. Thus in a great majority of cases, the mistress of the farmhouse must do a great part of the work. But there is sufficient work to keep one woman upon her feet from daylight to dark, to make of her a machine that must not stop grinding from new year to new year, and since the farmer's wife, however much she loves her home and her occupation, has yet like every other woman, her outside tastes and her personal ambitions, these two conditions are irreconcilable with her comfort and happiness. But let us remember there are sins of commission as well as sins of omission, and it seems to the writer that the former belong especially to the housewife. If she cannot get help to perform her manifold duties, she can at least do what in most cases she does not do – make them as easy as possible. She can learn systematically and conscientiously to slight her work as far as it will not interfere with the comfort and well being of herself and family. This will be hard at first and the results will not be altogether satisfactory, but less elaborately made and ironed clothes, plainer food, and a lack of immaculate dustlessness will be more than compensated for by a stronger body and a more cheerful mind. If there are children in the family, let their clothes be made perfectly plain, of some dark strong material that will neither soil nor tear easily. Flannel frocks for winter with large gingham aprons make good outfits both for home and school. Make them roomy and comfortable, with as few waist bands as possible – under the present administration a child hasn't the opportunity of wearing comfortable clothes any too long.
In ironing sheets, towels, and underclothing will do very well with a small lick and a large promise. They don't look as well, we admit that, but they are clean, which is, or ought to be, the prime consideration, and their roughness means a little sadly needed leisure.
In cooking, make plain dishes few in number. Banish pastries to a large extent. It is after all a perverted, unhealthy taste that demands fancy dishes and a great variety of them. If we could only believe it, we are better off without them, and to the busy housewife their lack means fairly emancipation."
January 19, 1888
As a farmer's daughter I should like to give farmers' wives and daughters a few suggestions. Some women do not like the idea of having their dirt covered up by "polish," as they term it, especially in the laundry, but the only way we know of helping it, is to keep the work at home and if possible hire some trustworthy girl, making her feel that she is not working for money alone, but for your appreciation. When help is not obtainable, however, a little system about the work will accomplish a great deal. Every farmers' wife should rise at five if not before. No woman should ever think of matrimony without having a thorough education in housework; and every woman should have a systematic programme placed in a conspicuous place of her kitchen, or better still, stored away on one of the back shelves of her brain.
The following rules have been laid down and followed with success by many a worthy matron: Monday: – wash, mop and bake. As soon as the breakfast is taken up, have a boiler of water ready to put on, and by the time breakfast is over, the table cleared and floor swept, the water is hot. Put your clothes to soak and then wash your dishes; it is also to be expected that bread will have to be baked and the floor mopped on Monday. Tuesday: – Iron and churn. Farmers in the west, where they keep a large herd of cows use the "Windmill churn," (a dash churn with a lever attached to the mill) which is as good as a woman, as long as it lasts. Wednesday: – Wash the wood work and mop. Thursday: – No woman is perfectly happy unless she has one day to "putter" in, so we will give her this day to do as she please with, but we dare say every wise housewife will improve it to the best ability; every other week it might be used in washing and cleaning the pantry. Friday: – Sweep and dust. Everything cannot be accomplished on Saturday, so this day is used in sweeping and dusting the parlors, sitting room and other rooms; then take a view of your cellar, but be sure that you have your dust pan and broom under your arm; dust and sweep it, then wash the hatchway and hall stairs. Then go to your creamery or milk house, giving that a general cleaning. Saturday: – Bake, mop and mend. Baking and mopping can be accomplished by noon, and in the afternoon the clothes mended and put away for Sunday. Sunday: – "Do that which is right." Monday and Saturday afternoons are the only ones that are not reserved for reading, calling, sewing and practice; and what sane woman wants more than four afternoons out of six for recreation and improvement?
January 26, 1888
In an age which demands the development of brains surely demands their use. It is not long since woman has had time to look up from her work at the social problems around her, or the ___cation to enable her to solve them. Before steam machinery did the spinning and weaving it took all the time they could spare to supply homespun linens and woolens. Even then many men wore leather to supply the lack of cloth. Today, says a speaker before the Congressional Labor Committee, Ait would require the labor of every man, woman and child on the face of the globe to do with spinning wheel and loom the work now accomplished by less than one and one'_____ millions of operatives in cotton _____ alone. This is what invention and co-operation have accomplished by organization and co-operation. A man or woman who in any other industry (but that of housekeeping) tries to carry on three or four distinct trades at once, is acknowledged to have too many irons in the fire. How behind the times, ____, to expect every housekeeper to do this successfully. The housework of Wellesley College, of 300 girls, is done in forty five minutes by those trained to one kind of work and to do it quickly and well. How much more easily and economically could the laundry work and cooking for a community of 300 persons be done, all in one building by skilled laborers with modern appliances, and the work superintended by a competent overseer. The older countries are far ahead of us in this question of how best to accomplish our housework. They were forced to unite and co-operative from motives of economy. Necessity is the mother of invention. One writer on this question says: From scarcity of domestic help America will be forced to follow this wise example of the old world. From Maine to California the farmers kitchens are being emptied to help to supply the boarding houses, factories, and summer hotels with their one kind of work, fewer hours, higher wages and gay society. At the close of the season the girls go home to enjoy their gains, or follow the boarders to their city homes. In either case the farmers wife finds herself bereft, and her situation is becoming truly terrible, for, however heavy the burden, however inadequate her strength, more and more is she left alone!. Too many there are who can testify to the truth of this. And its dire import is found by a study of the records of our insane hospitals, together with the causes of insanity. An alarmingly large proportion of the inmates of those asylums being one class and that class the farmer's wives, the cause of their insanity being the monotony of their routine and overwork. It is a dark picture of a stern reality. May the day be not far distant when the dawn of a brighter morning may succeed this dark night of toil, for the farmer's wives is the sincere hope of \
L.C.B. Gault, Caldwell.
February 2, 1888
Are we or are we not to have neighborhood laundries for country districts? Perhaps this as well as many other reforms relating to womans' labor will depend largely upon womans' capability of properly asserting herself. That it would be very desirable can hardly be questioned, but women quite often possess an extra amount of imagination and think that poor, dear John is so hard worked and so generous that they will not add one penny to his expenses that is not absolutely necessary, and thus they go on overworking and undermining their health, laying up a sad burden indeed for poor John to carry by and by unless he is called to lay that burden under the sod, which is too often the case. Now in this country any disinterested person can see that John is thriving in health, is slowly but surely laying by a competence, that is where there are no bad habit to hinder, that he is enjoying himself as well as most people expect to, and he does not see why his wife is not as well off as most women expect to be. It is related of Martin Luther that in trying to console his wife for the loss of a beloved daughter he said "Don't take on so Kate. This is a hard world for women." Remember that our husbands not being great reformers, cannot appreciate the ineffable weariness that many of our labors bring even when they seem to be light. We ourselves must carefully consider, and if there is need of it, no one thing will so much lighten our work as to have the laundry work taken out of the house. The machinery for a laundry is quite costly, and would country people be willing to meet the expense? Then we must keep a weekly record of all the pieces which go out, and see if all are returned. Again, those country women who are not willing to trust an ordinary hired girl to do the washing without giving her personal attention to each piece to see that it is properly done, would very likely not be willing to trust their washing to be done in a laundry. Then what are we going to do? Confess ourselves beaten? I trust not. I hope we shall do some thinking about this matter, and that we shall in any case, sickness excepted, stop short of overwork. If any would ask what could be done in case of being overtaken by weariness in the midst of a day's work or a year's work, I can only say that if Mary would hold the winning cards, she must be able to compel circumstances and not allow circumstances to compel her, that is in a general sense. Civilization is waiting to emancipate the human race from a great many unnecessary burdens, and country women are slowly waking to this fact. We find that women will not train themselves to fill disagreeable places. If we can make it pleasant for a neighborhood washerwoman and one to do repairing, and can pay them a good salary, we should then be fortunate if we succeeded in finding those who are both willing and competent.
February 9, 1888
The question of neighborhood laundries, now exciting some attention among the readers of the Freeman, is worthy of attention by all. Nevertheless, the writer believes with M.M.F., as expressed in the last issue, that there are many difficulties in the way, and that indeed under the reign of the present sentiment and condition of things they are well nigh practically impossible. Firstly in consideration there is the cost, and money is apt to be so scarce upon the farm, and then, as M.M.F. suggests, there is the over careful housewife, the trouble of carrying the work to and fro, the capable work woman to be provided, and so many other considerations to be taken into account that it seems highly improbable that any community can ever reconcile them all and bring the laundry to a practical realization. In connection with this result, however, seemingly discouraging, we must realize that laundries even in towns, where facilities for running them are much greater, are among the luxuries. They go with fine furniture and theatre tickets. They are not, they cannot be, patronized by the poor man, for the good reason that a day's time even of hard disagreeable labor is worth less to the poor man's wife than the money she would have to pay out to have that labor performed elsewhere. In an average country neighborhood there would not be above three or four families who could afford to avail themselves of the advantages of a laundry if they lived within access to one, and the women of the households generally manage to keep help, so that the institution would not be of so much necessity to them as to their poorer sisters. And these could not use it if they had it - they cannot afford it.
With the writer's knowledge of farm life, its incomes and its outgoes, ti seems almost useless to try to help the majority of farmer's wives by urging the greater expenditure of money. They cannot spend more money. They have not got it to spend. Not that they are poorer than people in other occupations - by no means - but allowing them an equal income and an equal expenditure the woman's part of the work is harder, for the simple reason that custom immemorial has given into her hands a regular part of the living work, while the wives of the carpenter and merchant usually have nothing whatever directly to do with the wage earning. Farmers wives should realize this, their extra labor is in what has now become the nature of things.
We would not, however, be understood as arguing that their lot is all that is should be - far from it. It ought to be ameliorated and it can be ameliorated, but it seems to the writer that the greater part of the work must be accomplished through intelligence in management. System, regularity, plainness in living and dress, a lack of rag carpets, sea serpent quilts and pastry - these appear to us the most potent agents. But if anyone can suggest more positive aids we are always glad to hear.
Theodora Winton, Editor.
February 23, 1888
An Exception to Home Rules.
Ed. Woman's World: – I was a good deal amused by the home rules of O.W. in your issue of Jan. 19, amused at her idea of a farmers' daughter presuming to advise farmers' wives, inasmuch as she must be an exceptional daughter who may presume to advise who have had the care of farm homes in a degree seldom had by daughters; amused at the implied inferences which O.W. makes: that probably I lack system and a thorough education in house work; right here I would say that I have enough of the proverbial old maid about me so that I have a little system about my work, and I do occasionally arise before noon, and I do occasionally get my wash boiler on before breakfast; also very few women get a more thorough training in housework than I received. My mother commenced to train her girls in housework as soon as they were able to pick up a toy and put it in its place, and the training was never abandoned so long as we were at home; lastly I was amused at the rules laid down. I should judge from them that O.W., is the youngest daughter of a retired farmer, that is, that she knows absolutely nothing of a home on a farm or a home with children in it. Her rules might do for a village home, although I would make several alterations in them, as for instance, I should not bake Monday. I would make my bread good enough and enough of it so that I could bake Tuesday, baking when I was ironing clothing which needs a not very hot iron. In this way I could give my attention to my washing and I should save my strength by having that many less steps to take. I consider it my bound duty to save my strength in every way possible.
O.W., has made arrangements for only one churning in the week, and none at all for salting, working and packing the butter from that one churning; she has made no provision for care of milk, which with a dairy of nine or ten cows and setting the pans implies continuous labor of two or three hours each day; she has made no provision for getting of meals, which in the summer time, when vegetables are to be gathered and prepared, is no small item; then she has made no provision for care of fruit; the farmer's wife who picks and cares for fruit enough to carry even a small family healthfully through a winter, hasn't many afternoons to spare in the weeks when the fruit is ready to pick.
O.W., has made no provision for care of poultry, and many women on farms spend hours in this work and add materially to the resources of the farm. She has made no provision for beef and pork in the fall. And last and greatest of all, one would judge she never knew of a house with children. She probably never knew of any disarrangement of her home rules by the care of a sick child; she probably never heard of being obliged to stop in the midst of the clearing of that Monday morning's breakfast table to mend a three cornered jagged tear in Johnnie's pants. Johnnie didn't mean to tear them, but he must go to school and he doesn't happen to have another pair, for money is scarce in that home. I have seen a few households where this most exact system failed to do very much toward the morning's work till the little folks were off to school. I have known a small boy to fill the pockets of his trousers full of hen's eggs (queer things go into boys pockets occasionally) and then go to swinging; a downfall prevented those eggs going to market and also prevented mother's sewing, reading or calling very much that afternoon. I have known small boys, and girls too, to walk into mud puddles, regardless of the fact (?) that it was mama's afternoon off. They were not very bad small children either, and their mamas had a few systematic rules laid on the front shelves of their brains.
My help, with which I was discussing O.W.'s rules, asks if all those things and a host which I have not enumerated, are to be done on the "putter" day, a day which we have never been able to find room for on this farm. Jesting aside, my queries are not all answered by O.W. Miss Winton came nearer answering them a week or so previous in advising women to try to learn to neglect certain details of housework generally esteemed essential by good housekeepers. She is very right but there still remains too much absolutely essential work of one woman to do. And it is often, generally, impossible to hire some trustworthy girl as O.W. suggests. Many of the trustworthy girls enter upon the many fields of labor now open to women labor which allows them more hours leisure than does housework in a farm house and which allows them to be clean and wear pretty nice clothing. Who can blame them? I cannot, but even if I could, the fact remains that it grows daily more difficult to secure this trustworthy help, and so my problem remains unanswered.
Here is a woman who passionately loves out door life, as I do myself. I must spend some time working out doors or walking or I feel as if I had not breathed during the day. I have a friend who dearly loves farm animals and they love her. She has two little children and her husband and hired man to do for, but she finds time beside all this to milk five cows night and morning. She loves her life, but she is an educated woman, full graduate of one of the most thorough Normal schools of our state. If she could put washing or ironing or mending outside of home, how much broader might her life be, and as a consequence, how much more thought she might give to her children, making them better citizens.
My mother has always been a great reader. My father used to read aloud to her evenings while she worked, but even that was not enough, and midnight often found her reading when all others were in bed. Could she have brought herself to neglect home house work, which she never succeeded in doing to any extent, or if she could have put some of it out, even with her six children, she might have gratified her great desire, without at the same time neglecting hygienic rules, which are fully as important as any other home rules.
Men invent ways to lighten their labors – why would not women?
Alura Collins HollisterWaukesha Freeman
March 15, 1888
Home Rules Continued.
Mrs. Hollister thinks her queries were not answered by O.W. I quite agree with her. There was no effort made to answer them. My "rules" were written without reference to Mrs. H. or her wants, and were intended for those house keepers who have not reached that degree of perfection which she seems to have attained. That there are such people I feel convinced, and that they might with advantage pay attention to some such rules seems at least not wholly impossible. Indeed they have been tried by daughters that are now grandmothers. My mother at fourteen was left to take care of an invalid mother, father and eight brothers, yet she found time to study; and you will not find one woman in a hundred that has more system about work than she.
Mrs. H. is correct. I am the youngest daughter of a farmer, but he has not retired – yet. I have also spent a few weeks in the kitchen.
Mrs. H. says it takes three hours to take care of the milk from ten cows. We keep between forty and fifty cows and it does not take us any longer than that to take care of that milk, though of course we had every thing handy such as creamery case placed in a vat and pipes running from a flowing well to the vat, which saves us the trouble of washing so many pans and pumping water.
Often farmers sell their cream, in that case you would only need to churn once a week for your own use if you have a good cellar; and in some places where they have creamery they offer just as much for butter that has been thoroughly rinsed as butter that is worked and salted.
I made no provision for getting meals simply because I supposed every one knew that they had to be gotten, and with the work allotted for each day plenty of time was left for getting meals.
Further, I do expect children to be sick. Did you ever hear of a farmer, with all the help he has in the line of machinery to lighten his labor, going into the field and working all summer without something happening to stop him? Ho, there is a stone in his way and his mower is broken. But these are exceptions and have nothing to do with regular rules. But then all children are not Johnies and all Johnies do not tear their clothes before breakfast.
I never saw a farm of forty acres where the parents could not afford two suits of clothes for their child; if there is not money enough on a farm to afford two suits apiece for their children, no one can expect to make many improvements – because money is a scarce article there.
I have been into some homes, and came to the conclusion that they never puttered but once a week and that was all the time. We all know that some people can do a days work while others are just planning what they are to do today?
March 15, 1888
Wante - An Explanation.
Editor Woman's Dept. Freeman:
I am not a farmer's wife nor a farmer's daughter. I am a farmer's son that left the pleasant homestead on a tributary of the upper branches of the Connecticut river some forty years ago. There was some good bottom lands on the river well adapted for meadow, corn and potatoes; we raised in addition some wheat, rye and oats. The hill part of the farm was good pasture having two or three never failing springs on it. We milked usually about twelve cows, making butter except in the two hottest months of the year when cheese was made. Of course there was the usual complement of pigs, chickens and turkeys. There were four boys and two girls in the family. Three of the boys strayed away into other pursuits as they got towards manhood. The girls remained on the farm until married, assisting on the farm, though one, the younger, frequently went out to help the neighbors as tailoress and dressmaker. I have been thus particular, not because our case was at all singular, indeed it was rather typical of the lives of families in that region, but for a reason that will presently appear. There must have been a good deal of work to be done in that home, for in addition to the dairy and other necessary house work there was spinning, weaving, dressmaking and tailoring for the whole family.
There were no washing machines, no sewing machines, no convenient cooking stoves, at least in my earliest days. The open fire place was all, except a back oven outside for baking and what we called a dutch oven for occasional use. My mother was a spry active little woman always up first in the morning (at least that is my impression); we always ashed the fire in the evening and there was never a lack of good dry wood. The girls were like other girls I suppose, the youngest Mehitable, was rather slim, the elder, Sarah, was more robust.
The house as I recollect it, (but distance my lend enchantment to the view) was a model for a farmers house. The floors were always clean scrubbed; we had no carpets except two or three home made rugs placed before the beds. The floors were sanded which gave them a pleasant look. We had always a bountiful supply of wholesome well cooked food, our garments were always clean and whole, no raggedness or squalor, and to my recollection, the girls in their home made dresses looked as nice as the ordinary run of girls do now, but this may be an illusion, a prejudice; certainly they were as much thought of by the boys, and escorted as gallantly to singing school and spelling school as the girls are now to balls and operas and at infinitely less expense, and they acquitted themselves as well in these respective acquirements as the young ladies do now in the quadrille or the german (these I believe are favorite dances, but being an old fogy somewhat, and knowing nothing of them personally, I may have blundered here).
Now the outcome of all this simply this; How did these farmers wives and daughters live and thrive under all these accumulated burdens? They did live to a good old age. They were healthy and happy. They were given to hospitality generous though plain. I cannot remember that there was much complaining at their hard lot. They talked much of duty, not so much of rights. Benighted you see. Will some of the ladies who now so much bemoan their hard lot, explain this. They are well educated; they ought to be able to give us the philosophy of it. I want to know - do tell.
March 22, 1888
For Mrs. Brown.
Ed. Woman's World: - I think you misunderstood the members of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association in their relation to the test case recently decided against them by the Supreme Court, and I wish to state the case as I understand it. The bill to grant School Suffrage to women of Wisconsin after ratification by the people, was unfortunately worded for clear understanding by all, although there are some very clear headed lawyers in the Legislature on both sides of the suffrage question. Why they allowed such indefinite wording to pass both houses unchallenged, I cannot understand. Rev. Olympia Brown and a good many other believe that it was done purposely. A prominent gentleman in Republican politics said to me in Madison last winter that he could not understand why the Legislature allowed the bill to pass in the form it did, except on one supposition - that the friends of the measure in the Legislature hoped to get municipal suffrage by means of it, and that the enemies hoped to totally defeat all suffrage for women by the wording of it.
The bill was amended while in the Assembly in such a way as to further add to its indefiniteness. I think it originally read School District instead of Election District; at least that was the meaning, but when it came up for consideration in the Assembly, after having passed the Senate by a vote of 20 to 13, some one proposed the substitution of Election District, which amendment was accepted by Assembly vote of 67 to 33, and by the Senate upon being sent back to that body. While the bill was under discussion a number of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association wrote to gentlemen who were opposed to suffrage in any form for women, and asked them what the bill meant, and they responded that if it meant anything, it meant very much. I myself was so deeply engrossed by my work for the constitutional amendment that I paid but little attention to the fate or meaning of the School Suffrage bill. Directly after the November election when the law was declared carried, it seemed that men had just begun to study it, and opinions for an against its broad meaning were freely published about the state. It became evident very soon that a law so variously understood must be submitted to the Supreme Court for its decision. It became still more evident that a test case must be made after the April elections, when over 2,000 women through the state voted or tried to vote at municipal elections and town meetings. At Sturgeon Bay 200 women voted. There is no branch of our Suffrage Association there. Neither was there at Ripon or Portage, and at each of these places nearly 200 women voted. In Fond du Lac, one woman whose name I do not know, not a member of the State Suffrage Association, went to the polls with her husband, and he a lawyer, argued before the inspectors her right to vote the whole ticket, and the right was granted. Is it a tricky and double dealing policy to try to find the meaning of a law? Is it unworthy the adherents and the principles of such an association as ours, to test the case or would it be better for some single individual to test it without being backed by money and influence of the association? The women of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association propose to stand or fall together.
While I am on this subject, I would like to say a few words about Rev. Olympia Brown. There have been many unkind and untrue things said of her in the papers lately, and I wish to say that I once spent ten days in her home and found it truly a home. The outside surroundings are very beautiful - a lawn and garden back of the house to the wild and beautiful; steep green bank down to the lake, and a beautiful little beach where the waves are always threatening to take possession, and the ever changing colors of Lake Michigan are always before one. In the home there are books and pictures everywhere. An inmate of the house, even for a few hours, is made at home. Mrs. Brown's hired help are enthusiastic in her praise.
Every evening when Mrs. Brown is in Racine, she reads aloud an hour to her little children. She was reading Irving's Life of Columbus to them when I was there, and they listened with intense earnestness and begged for every moment of the hour.
The children are bright little creatures and are a perpetual study in human nature. Mrs. Brown's husband and mother are the other members of the family, and one cannot be near either of them without having his thinking powers stimulated. The elder Mrs. Brown, considerably past the allotted age of man, helps the children about their Greek lessons, does beautiful embroidery and converses upon topics of the day with force and earnestness. They are very proud and tender of the center of their home, Rev. Olympia Brown. She herself is one of the most thoroughly unselfish persons I ever knew, ready always to sacrifice herself for any cause seeming to be good. She and her husband are the truest kind of temperance workers - taking a drunkard into their home and working months to try to reform him, where all others had forsaken him.
Alura Collins Hollister Dodge's Corners, Wis.
March 22, 1888
We or Our Grandmothers.
Amos B. has at last put into black and white the ideas that he has long been suspected of harboring. Not that his self incrimination puts him in a position alone or unique in the treasonable inferences we are obliged to draw from his last week's article, for most of our fathers and uncles stand equally committed, but as everybody knows, guilt is not mitigated by being shared. Neither, we must remind Mr. B., does it rest upon the proof of the fallacy of his statements. Treason lies in the heart, not in the logic. Were the depths of infamy fathomed by those redcoat colonists a hundred years ago less because they spoke truth of England's greatness and power? Does it mitigate the treason to talk ill of your wife because she is ugly and can't cook? But no yet having received judicial investments Mr. B.'s sentence will for the present remain suspended, while we devote ourselves for a time to his statements, or rather to the inferences to be drawn from those statements, the gentleman having cunningly sheltered himself behind suppositions and possibly fallacious memories. But, the drift and gist of it all is plain. Mr. B. would have us believe that those women whose luck it was to precede us in the order of being had, in equal parts, more of the housekeeper's ability than we, and less of the housekeeper's loquacity. Is it true? If true, is it a matter of commiseration as Mr. B. would have us infer, or of congratulation? To the first question we may answer, perhaps in a measure it is. The life of a country woman two generations ago may have been more rational than it is now. Her house was plainer, so was her food, so were her clothes - this not because of her superior sense, but simply from the spirit of the times, just as much from fashion as are the monstrosities and abominations we have to endure. Her dresses were so simple that it was hardly more work to make them from the wool than it now is to sew together the prepared cloth, everybody having heard their mothers tell of making a gown between breakfast and supper, with time to spare. The same facts were true of her husband's clothes and of her children's; the work of fashioning them was very slight, the making of the cloth being much more tedious. And this latter labor, spinning and weaving, is the point to which attention is especially directed. Look, say these antiquarians, those women did all that you do and the spinning and weaving beside. Well, so they did, but there are several things that they did not do which will at least bear argument as being equally important. They did indeed go to church on Sunday, but church work in its present signification to women, missionary meetings, aid societies, etc. - an important point both in time and labor, was unknown to them. They paid little attention to reading, the great mass of papers and magazines with their demands upon time and attention having not yet put in an appearance. As a whole they knew and cared nothing about literature or music or art, and the world outside, with its possibilities for knowledge for good and for pleasure, was only less known than that of Jupiter or of this planet before the flood.
In short, our grandmothers paid their whole attention to the manual labor of their households. Naturally they brought about good results. Women who follow that course now, arrive at precisely the same destination. But those other women, who have farther reaching tastes and something besides culinary ambitions, also naturally grasp toward the objects of their desires, and clamor if they are withheld. And the clamor brings them - that is what it is for. Which of these two species of the bird feminine is intrinsically the more admirable must remain a matter of opinion. It seems however not impossible that the men of the rising generation may remember the mental characteristics of their mothers and sisters with as devoted a certainty as does Amos B. the manual.
Theodora Winton, Editor of Woman's World
April 5, 1888
Brother Amos Again.
Brother Amos has asked some who bemoan their hard lot to tell him how farmer's wives and daughters of the olden time came to be so contented and so long lived etc., but since no one is bemoaning her own hard lot, how is he to be answered? There are no grumblers, only reformers, and they must of course talk of those customs which need to be reformed. I do not believe there was ever a time in which the intelligent woman was better satisfied than now. The ducking stools are abolished and men are no longer permitted to chastize their wives with whips no bigger than their thumb, as they used to be. Women with the help of their big brothers have by force pushed back the gates of the colleges, have seized upon the learned professions, have shaken down the prohibition bars which kept them from renumerative labor, and with the help of these same big brothers seems likely to obtain political freedom.
Even now a woman may, in most of the states, if her husband dies, possess her own wearing apparel. But herein lies the change; women did not then dare to take counsel with each other and try to better their condition; now they do. A woman was owned by her husband and must obey his will, take care of his house, and have charge of his children, etc., but I do not believe that they thought their position in all respects desirable. I, too, was brought up in one of these old time farmer's families, where all the woolen clothing worn by the entire family was made at home. We cooked by a fire place and baked with that blessed invention the tin baker. But the house mother was perpetually overworked, and the result of this overwork was passed on as a legacy to her daughters, just as most of these country mothers have been doing ever since. We worked no more hours than do women now, nor were we more weary. Four to six weeks sewing by an extra hand at two dollars to two and a half a week would fashion garments enough to last nearly the year through. Later on when we came to be schoolmams and taught for the compensation of one dollar to one and a quarter per week, we could clothe ourselves with the help of the homemade clothing, and put by money for our silver spoons. Yes, there has been a wonderful change in the times since then, and no where is it more visible than in the mind of man. Women are taking stet rights, but man is nearing the duty line. May God grant him a clear vision.
April 19, 1888
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The Old Ways and the New.
Editor Woman's World: I sincerely beg the pardon of O.W. for being so egotistical as to suppose that she intended her Home Rules as in any way an answer to my previous article upon Kitchen Help; notwithstanding the fact that she quoted some of the words used by me in said article and furthermore disposed of my idea of the neighborhood laundry. As she declares her Home Rules had no earthly reference to me or my wants, of course it would be the right of impoliteness for me to attempt to answer any of the vulnerable points left by her in her second article.
I have read with great interest the ideas advanced in regard to the neighborhood laundry and acknowledge of course that there are serious obstacles in the way, but it does not yet appear to me that they are insurmountable.
One objection noted was the cost. My idea was that the cost would not be so great as the pay and the keep of a servant. If she be incompetent, her cost would be greater, in waste.
It is objected to that women who are not satisfied with washing done under their eyes, would surely be dissatisfied with laundry work. I think women generally would be satisfied with clothes washed clean with as little wear and tear as possible. If it were not possible to find trained women to do this work without oversight, perhaps the women patronizing the laundry might take turns in overseeing the work.
I read too with great interest the article by Mr. Amos B.; read it and was carried by memory back to the old Connecticut homestead, which forms part of the pleasantest pictures of my early childhood days and which give me some bright pictures in my younger womanhood. Again, I saw the Connecticut hills, range on range; again I looked down the lovely Quinebaug valley, again rambled after blackberries and huckleberries out in the old pasture; took pleasant drives along the sleepy roads lined with great old apple trees, admired the gray rocks peeping out from the thickly clustered grape vines, with here and there a barberry bush with its clusters of scarlet berries showing bright against the grayness of the stones. Again I looked with wonder at the heavy beams in the low ceiling of the century and a half old house; enjoyed meals spread in the wide hall running through the center of the house; slept in the east chamber against whose windows the boughs of the old apple tree brushes; sat by the fire place down whose wide chimney long years ago my childish eyes were startled by the descent of a nest of fluttering chimney swallows.
I can imagine nothing more beautiful than the old family home, not even in our beautiful Wisconsin, and it seems to me there could be no life more restful than one spent there. But, I wonder if Mr. B. would be contented in his old Connecticut home now. I wonder if the small fields of grain, etc., the tiny meadows, the rocky pastures, the old fashioned machinery, would suit him. But perhaps he was one of the three discontented brothers and now looks back from an active business life to those golden youthful days on the old Connecticut farm and forgets that farmers in their busy Western life would be more discontented with those old ways of working forty years ago on a Connecticut farm than some women with their old ways of working. Why should not women invent some ways of lightening labor? They have never given much time to their own heads. Is it not time they did? Man has taken pity upon them and has tried to invent some machines to lighten labor, but the result is not encouraging. He has not succeeded in making a sewing machine for home use which is so easy as is his twine binder. He has not succeeded in inventing a washing machine which does for the family washing what the sulky cultivator does for his cornfield. He has not succeeded in inventing a wringer which saves in manual labor what the steam thresher saves over the old fashioned flail.
Now Mr. B., please understand me; I am not finding fault with any one but herself, she alone is to blame for this state of affairs. I suppose I ought not to have written this much, as Mr. B. calls on those ladies who bemoan their hard lot to answer his questions. As I have never bemoaned my lot, but have always been proud and glad that I am a woman, I am of course not one whom he means.
Alura Collins Hollister
April 26, 1888
Amos B. Unconverted.
Editor Woman's World; - I would beg to put in mitigation of any ignorance I may display or blunders I may make that I am unfortunately a bachelor and that through no fault of my own, I would also disclaim any intention to disparage the sex which I with reason, so highly respect. But being of a philosophical turn of mind, as my friends say, and which may naturally come to me through a possible blood relationship, though far removed, to the famed father of inductive philosophy Lord Bacon, I judged that a few thoughts upon the vexed questions of woman's social disabilities might draw out from the very intelligent women of this county something that the world would not willingly let die, and which under your wise arrangement might be formulated so as to be as worthy of presentation at the next Farmer's Institute as papers on cows, horses, sheep and swine or oleomargarine, and furthermore be not an unworthy contribution to the new but profound science of evolutional sociology.
As you suggest in your notice of my last letter, the thoughts I with great deference expressed in regard to what you facetiously designate AWe or our grandmothers" are held by not a few men who from certain entanglements and from a prudent regard to peace are chary of giving voice to them publicly. I thought, as no great good can be achieved without a sacrifice, I might be as fit as any other to be the victim. Let me here say, once for all, that the writer being of quite a sensitive and retiring nature, pray that the criticisms, while unsparing in regard to his facts and opinions, may be sparing of his feelings, he feels hurt at a slightly sarcastic tone in some of your remarks, not entirely in keeping with the gravity and importance of the subject.
I admire your candor, however, in allowing that the lives of our grandmothers were more rational than those of her granddaughters as evidenced in the greater plainness in food and dress and home. I am sorry that you deny that this was due to superior sense, declaring that in these matters women then and now are not guided by sense but by fashion and under its insane domination ready to adopt any monstrosity or abomination. In this I cannot entirely agree with you. I am convinced that there are a number, I would fain hope an increasing number that refuse to bow the knee to Baal. It would be well for you to insist upon the fact that overelaboration in dress does not constitute beauty, that a true woman when unadorned is adorned the most and draw attention to the apostle Peter's exhortation in regard to this matter of adornment. (See, Peter 3 and 8.) In like manner it may be observed that the multiplicity of dishes, pies and cakes (often badly cooked) are neither conducive to the health of the family nor demanded by the rites of hospitality. The wisest and best of men said to the fussing and fashionable Martha, One thing is need ful. How often when surrounded by a whole regiment of dishes have we not wished that instead of all these, one piece of meat, one potato or one loaf of bread properly cooked was substituted! Greek, Latin, mathematics and light literature are a sorry substitute for a well cooked meal, a tidy house and a neat plainly dressed housekeeper.
Speaking of the immense labor expended upon the dresses of women of the present day you say that the same is true of men's garments. You must be aware that the making of men's clothes is now like carding, spinning and weaving, transferred from the farmer's fireside to the slop shop, and that the cutting and fitting and fashioning is a lost art to women in general, transferred entirely to the professionals.
You put as an offset to these duties of our grandmothers the various new obligations that women have assumed. Now it is true that these are appallingly multitudinous. There are the W.C.T.U., the W.B.R.S., the W.D.A.M., the W.X.Y.Z., and a host more too numerous to mention, many of them I have heard (this may be a slander) mere occasions for gossiping. Our grandmothers went to church twice on Sunday, prayer meeting once a week, and did occasionally meet for a little honest cheerful gossip under no hypocritical pretence; which is the better may be judged by a comparison of the families brought up under the two regimes.
But then again the ladies of the present day are literary; our grandmothers were illiterate. There is no denying this. Our grandmothers read the Bible, a wonderfully all comprehending book, giving the life that is to come; the Pilgrims Progress, the master prose poem of the world, and probably not more than a half dozen others with an occasional newspaper. The ladies of the present day must have two or three monthly magazines, containing at least all the newest French fashions and two or three columns of new and improved abominations in the shape of pies and cakes, a full share of stories, now full of love, blood and murder and now flat, stale and unprofitable. Which is intrinsically the more admirable? Do tell.
April 26, 1888
It is one of the principles of modern sentiment that fine complexions are a country product. Pink and white faces are invariably connected with fields and farm houses, and a fair and blooming skin is counted the country girl's heritage in contra-distinction to that of her town sister.
Modern sentiments, however, is not infallible. It is apt to be based upon notions that, as George Eliot says, save people the trouble of ideas; and in this case very little observation will convince us that it is not only not true, but is diametrically opposed to the truth. The country girl has not only not a better complexion than the town girl - she has a decidedly worse complexion. Take a company of town girls and a company of country girls- where will you find the smooth, clear, fresh-looking faces. And the thick, colorless, lifeless skins? Generally among the latter. This is a fact that anyone can verify by observation. It is an effect also that has a distinct active cause in the different modes of life of the two subjects. Of course we cannot say positively what that cause is, but a review of circumstance gives rise to a probability. The country girl has many conditions in her favor. She has usually better air, better water, less late hours and sweetmeats; she has also exercise in a certain way - from the kitchen to the chamber of her father's house and return - but she has not exercise in its larger out-of-door significance, and herein we think lies the secret of the whole matter.
It may seem a strange statement to make, but we believe it to be true that the American farmer's wife and daughter stay indoors during a greater proportion of the year than any class of American women. For six months of the year, from November to May, they hibernate almost as seclusively as the somnolent woodchuck - their outings being hardly further or more frequent. A ride of two or three miles to church once a month, an occasional party or afternoon visit, and a walk of half a mile under protest twice during the winter represent about all the fresh air the farmer's daughter beyond her school days get. In the summer if she tends garden or flowers, or if other duties take her out of doors regularly and extendedly (by no means a general thing) she obtains the requisite amount of exercise - otherwise not. She never takes it for her own sake. She never walks - she can't walk. Of a dozen American country girls of average health and strength you will not find two who think they can walk a mile except under pressure of circumstances. They wait their turn at the old horse or they stay at home.
On the other hand the town girl hasn't usually a horse to wait for. If she has she never thinks of depending upon it for her diurnal pilgrimage down town - an even that happens every afternoon of her life with almost as much regularity as her tea. It probably means a mile each way ans as much more in perambulations, but it is looked upon as nothing - merely a matter of course. Perhaps she has not exercised during the morning as much as the country girl, but few of us believe that the latter has so far exhausted her vitality that, if there was muster place where she can show her pretty clothes and advance her butterfly friendships and rivalries, she would be lacking, or be the better for being lacking. No; rest does not always mean a heavy heart and a pillow. The writer knows of a girl whose mother keeps a large summer boarding house, and who, during the season, works in the kitchen every day until 4 o'clock, when she dresses and goes down town, coming back literally more rested, she thinks, than if her time had been spent upon the sofa. You may call it gadding or what you will, and there are doubtless evils connected with it, but there is also much good. The physical open air exercises and the resulting health and beauty, the relaxation of the mind, the pleasant little excitement, and what is more the contact of common humanity with its self merging, humanizing tendency, will certainly stand some weight in the other side of the scales.
The country girl cannot have all of these advantages, but the physical benefits are as open to her as to any. Let her be out of doors more - gardening if she pleases in the summer, or otherwise turning her time to profit - but if she goes out simply for going out's sake, it is not much loss. Were she indoors she would be knitting lace whose materials cost her more than the boughten articles, or making flounces that she is better off without.
Let her get rid of the notion that wherever she goes she must ride. After all the threelegged horse and old buggy or buckboard usually delegated to her service are not unmitigated blessings. Her two feet would take her along at about as rapid a pace and with fully as much style.
Let her also remember that she is not a marmot. The walking is hard during the winter, therefore she need not go so far, but a little practice together, with warm clothing and short skirts, will soon make a tramp through the snow only pleasurable and exhilerating. It also, like every other effort in the world, will surely produce an effect - an effect that any medical man will tell you is wholly, unreservedly beneficial.
Men exercise for their health, women for their looks, says a late exchange. Perhaps it is true, but men get the looks as well, and women the health. If this were not so, health alone is worth working for; so is beauty. The world is full of moralizing about the vanity of appearances, but the fact is, and the fact remains, that beauty is the highest trump ever held in the hand of a woman. Of course, alone it cannot always expect to win; admirable qualities hold and will hold their own against it; but other things being equal, a pretty face has a long start in the race. It holds nine chances out of every ten for success in any undertaking, from the conclusion of a good match downward - or upward.
Theodora Winton, Editor of Woman's World
May 10, 1888
Mr. Amos B's understanding of the sentiments relative to the subjection of woman to the fashion which recently appeared in these columns, seems to lack comprehensiveness. The statement made that the women of the good old days of Amos B's childhood were not less subject to the bondage of the prevailing mode than are the women of today, was thus limited because the needs of the subject demanded no further extension. If the writer could have foreseen Mr. B's interpretation she would have inserted a clause to the effect that, women unfortunately not having as much greater moral strength in matters of seeming as they have in matters of being, than men, etc. etc., to the desired climax, i.e. their thralldom then as now and now as then in the bonds of a set and rigid fashion.
Humanity in all ages and all phases has been and probably will be until a higher state of civilization is reached than has ever yet been attained, governed to a great degree in matters of appearance by some arbitrary conception of beauty that has little to do with the comfort or wellbeing of the wearer. Among barbarians the savage submits to the pains of tattooing and wears bars in nose and ears - the man we believe appropriating the lion's share of adornment. In the civilized world at a certain period not so long ago my lady wore a hoopskirt and my lord wore a wig - the two being of about equal dimensions and equal degrees of use and comfort. At the present time women wear too little bonnets and a useless abundance in the draperies of their dress. Men wear marbelized breastplates and chimneypot hats that make them all bald. In full dress the costumes of the two are alike tightly and pitilessly fitting and of equally absurd cut - with this difference, the woman is allowed considerable latitude in the width of her bodice and the length of her train, enough to evolve a tolerably reasonable garment while the man may not abate one jot or tittle from the conventional claw hammer absurdity.
All this perhaps does not bear directly upon the main question. It is merely advanced to indicate to Amos B. that the writer has no notion, even when admitting their extra frills, that the women of today have either less sense or in dependence than the women of fifty years ago without the frills. Frills are an accident of the temper of the times. We as individuals are not responsible for them, nor were Amos B's family for the lack of them. And this being the case Mr. B. will not be called upon to support the festive dickey and the solemn stock that history relates used to go side by side with those simple gowns that he so admires.
Further our correspondent is inclined to sneer at the better degree of education and culture claimed as the successor of the lamented arts of spinning and weaving. On this point the writer must yield to the broader experience and observation which includes both parties to the comparison, while her own contains only one. The statements made, however, were based on what was supposed to be reliable information from various sources and also upon the fact that among the present day house wives, whose abilities and achievements seem most nearly to approximate those of Amos B's revered memory, the writer has found intelligence and refinement far below the average.
Theodora Winton, Editor of Woman's World
July 5, 1888
To Woman Workers on the Farm.
It is among the trials of farm life that the hardest work comes in the warmest weather. If the labors of harvesting could be done in the cool of spring or fall they would lose half their oppressiveness, and if the extra baking and brewing and preserving that accompany the hum of the mowing machine and the rattle of the reaper, could be done at that season of the year when a fire is a pleasure and brisk activity the natural inclination of the healthy housewife, they would be anticipated with very different feelings from those which they now awaken. But if the mountain does not come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain, and if the work does not come as she wishes it, the worker must adjust herself to the way it does come. There is a best and easiest way of doing everything - let our readers remember that, and seek with unceasing diligence and earnestness until they find it.
Most country housekeepers appreciate the fact that the early morning offers the most desirable work hours of the summer day, but what they do not seem to realize is that if they curtail their rest in the morning it must be made up at some other time. If they rise at four they must retire at eight, or else make provision for a regular hour or two of rest during the afternoon. Hard workers need at least eight good hours of sleep. The body demands it, and if it does not get it, it takes its revenge later on by a longer rest, either on a bed of sickness or on the pallet of death. Many women who are the heads of families and on whom duty seems to clutch with a hundred hands, think it incumbent upon them to steal every possible moment from their own sleep and recreation to further the interests of household and children. If they were a little wiser they would know that their own physical well being, with its resultant cheer and capability, is such a potent factor in the home's real happiness as to overbalance almost every other consideration, and to be retained at any sacrifice of extras in the way of dress or food. Work can be made easier if workers will only go at it with honest, intelligent effort. Release yourselves from the bonds of prejudice and custom. Do nothing simply because your neighbors do it or because your grandmother did before you, but only because that in some reasonable way it will add to the comfort and happiness of those whose source of comfort and happiness you are. And realize that you cannot fall further from your aim than by keeping yourself jaded and overworked, and by denying to yourself all those aids and recreations that keep the face fresh and the heart companionable.
Theodora Winton, Editor of Woman's World
May 27, 1897
Annuals and Fuchsias.
(For the Freeman)
Any one can have a beautiful flower garden with little trouble by using seeds. And the first of June is early enough to plant most seeds of annuals, except sweet peas. I generally plant most of my seeds in boxes and transplant, as my seeds are surer to germinate where I can keep the ground moist. If you have a border or small bed and want a constant succession of blossoms all summer, sow petunias, portulacca, ageratum, sweet alyssum, verbenas or phlox drummond. Any one or two of these will give quantities of blossoms the entire season, all the more if you are careful to keep seed from forming. It isn't best to sow all of these in one bed. For one reason because one variety of flower massed gives a better effect and for another reason because the plants use very much more room than is usually given them. If the ground is rich and sunny a fine verbena plant will easily cover two square feet of ground and the rest of the flowers named should be set a foot apart. Very few people do allow their plants to become specimen plants, but a single trial will convince anyone that as fine specimen plants can be obtained of these varieties as of begonias and such household beauties.
If you can bring it to pass don't neglect to have a fuchsia on the north side of your house, in the ground or in a pot of some kind. I had a tub of fuchsias last year which made a sight to be remembered long. They were near a north back door and many a shower of soap suds was their portion, and they lovingly repaid for their favorite conditions, shad, rich earth and moisture.
Alura Collins Hollister.
Big Bend, May 22, '97.