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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘home economics’

Earning, Spending, and Saving

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

real thrift deals with little thingsFinancial woes ~ we are all familiar with them. With the new year upon us I’ve tried to get a handle on my own, so have done a bit of reading on the subject. Maude Richman Calvert’s First Course in Home Making offered some good tips for future savers, which I will share with you here. Who needs a financial planner when Maude is here to help?

1928: Earning, Spending, and Saving

How can we learn to be thrifty? How can we learn to save money? Why are most of the failures in the world caused by a lack of thrift? What do we mean by thrift? Does thrift apply only to saving money? Why should we learn to save money?

Spend Less than You Earn. Learn to be thrifty by spending less than you earn. Thrift is one of the chief objectives of education. Real thrift means making the most of time, money, food and self. By learning to conserve your time, your health, your talents and your money you can pick your own job, own your own home and be prepared for probable misfortune and old age.

Spend Intelligently. Intelligent spending is just as important as intelligent saving. When you spend all that you earn you are working for a mere living; when you spend more that you earn you are a financial failure. Much of our money is spent on clothing. Study clothing to know values; take care of your garments and when you decide that it is necessary to buy, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I need this article?
2. Can I afford to buy it?
3. Is the quality good?
4. Is the price reasonable?
5. Is the dealer trustworthy?
6. Can I pay for it now?
7. Is the garment appropriate?

Buy Food Intelligently. To buy food intelligently you must know food values; you must know the difference in actual values of certain qualities and brands of food; you must know how to plan, prepare and serve a well-balanced meal; you must know how to order a well-balanced meal at a hotel, cafe or cafeteria.

Learn to Eliminate Waste. In one sense, thrift means the elimination of waste. We cannot practice thrift merely by ceasing to spend money. Genuine thrift consists not in making money ~ or in saving it ~ it consists as well in taking care of things. A careless person cannot be successful ~ except by accident. Real thrift deals with little things and can be practiced by any one. Do you:

1. Eat all the food on your plate?
2. Mend and repair your clothing?
3. Take care of furniture, books and household equipment?
4. Waste light and fuel at home and in public places?
5. Waste money by buying novelties in food and clothing?
6. Buy cheap jewelry?
7. Waste money on candy, soda water and cheap amusements?

Learn to Save. Ask your father or your teacher what the figures of insurance companies show about people who never learned how to spend and save their money while young. Find out why it is important to begin to save our money while we are still children. Ask your teacher what happens to people in middle life or old age who did not learn while they were young how to spend and save wisely. We should always spend less than we earn. We should decide on a definite amount to be saved each week. Government authorities tell us that any one who starts with his first earnings and ‘puts out at interest one day’s wages every week will have ten years’ wages saved before becoming gray headed.’

Source: Calvert, Maude Richman. First Course in Home Making. Atlanta, Ga.: Turner E. Smith Company,1928.
~ pp. 248-50 ~

The Cost of Clothing

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

What is it about January that makes me hate my clothes so much? I blame the extra sweets around the holidays. Whatever the reason, my closet just got a bit fuller thanks to a little shopping spree today. I probably should have read the following excerpt, from Mary Lockwood Matthews’ textbook Elementary Home Economics, before I left for the store. I think I may have caved into a fad or two! Oh no!

1925: The Cost of Clothing

Many persons spend more money for clothing than is necessary because they do not buy wisely; they select materials and garments that do not wear well, that fade, that are not suitable for the purpose, or that do not launder well. Persons who are careless about the care of their clothing spend more money than those who keep their clothing repaired, pressed and clean. Every girl should remember that her clothing is expensive, and should consider it her duty to take as good care of it as possible.

In order to realize the cost of clothing, it would be well for each girl to keep an account of the money she spent for her clothing each year, even though she does not buy it herself. Such an account will be begun in the ‘Clothing Book.’ Perhaps each member of the class will continue keeping it, so that when she begins buying her own clothing she will know the usual price of each article.

The buying of ‘fads,’ exaggerated styles, or novelty materials is not wise when clothing must be worn for very long periods. Fads in clothing go out of fashion quickly and must be discarded. The better plan is to select standard materials of good quality and then have the garments made in such a way that they may be worn two or even three years without being out of fashion.

Source: Matthews, Mary Lockwood. Elementary Home Economics. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company,1925.
~ p. 102 ~

Washing the Dishes

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

the large, greasy utensilsThis week’s selection is from a high school home economics book, but I don’t think I had to wait that long to learn how to do this fairly common childhood chore. My mom had me scraping and scrubbing dishes at a much younger age! For those of you still a bit clueless about this particular household task, here are some tips from How You Plan and Prepare Meals. It was written by experts Byrta Carson and MaRue Carson Ramee.

1962: Washing the Dishes

Preparing to Wash Dishes

Scrape and rinse the dishes that are especially soiled. Soak in cold water dishes that contained cereal, egg, or flour mixtures. Soak in hot water greasy dishes and those that were used for sugar mixtures.

If the pans or skillets are badly burned, fill them with water. Add a little baking soda, and boil them until clean.

Stack the dishes by putting similar things together. Place the glasses next to the sink since they should be washed first. Place the silverware next and then the china. Pots, pans, and other utensils should be last. Smaller and least-soiled cooking utensils should be placed so that they will be washed before the large, greasy utensils.

Washing the Dishes

1. Fill the sink or the dishpan half full with hot soapy water. The amount of soap or detergent that you should use depends upon the hardness of the water.

2. Put only a few dishes into the sink or the dishpan at one time.

3. Hold each dish in your left hand and the sponge or the dishcloth in your right hand as you wash dishes.

4. Rinse the dishes with plenty of very hot water. Glasses, cups, jars, and bottles should be rinsed inside and out. Plates, saucers, and so on, should be rinsed on both sides.

5. Place the dishes in the dish drainer at an angle at which they will drain best. For example, turn glasses and cups upside down after they have been scalded. Stand plates, saucers, and so on, at almost a right angle.

6. Dry the dishes with a clean dish towel, and put them in their proper places.

7. Hang up the dish towel neatly when you finish drying the dishes.

8. Pour the dishwater through a sink strainer unless you have a garbage disposal. Otherwise you may clog the sink.

9. Use soapy water to clean the sink, rubbing it hard. If the sink is especially dirty, use soda or a fine scouring powder. Use a bleach to remove stains.

10. Clean the table and the cabinet tops thoroughly, giving special attention to the edge of the table. Any food left on the table or in cracks is apt to attract insects.

Source: Carson, Byrta, and MaRue Carson Ramee. How You Plan and Prepare Meals. St. Louis, Mo.: Webster Division, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1962.
~ pp. 402-403 ~

Meals Out-of-Doors

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

know how to plan and prepareAh, summertime. Hooray for our Red, White, and Blue, and for the season of hot dogs, lemonade, and popsicles. Here’s a few tips about the fine art of eating outdoors, from Mary Lockwoods Matthews’ somewhat repetitive Elementary Home Economics.

1928: Meals Out-of-Doors

Most boys and girls like to go on picnics. A picnic lunch may consist entirely of cooked foods that are ready to serve, or part of the foods may be prepared at home and others cooked over a camp fire on the beach, in the woods, or wherever the picnic is to be held. When all the foods are to be prepared at home, they must be carried in suitable containers, so that they will be in good condition when it is time to serve them. Thermos bottles or jugs may be used for carrying hot cocoa, milk, water, or any other cold or hot drink, and bottles having a large mouth may be used for hot or cold foods. One may use a picnic basket equipped with knives, forks, spoons, plates, cups, and containers for various types of food. In some of these baskets there are compartments for ice, so arranged that foods may be kept cold. These baskets are quite elaborate, expensive, and heavy to carry, and often thermos bottles or jugs can be used for foods which must be kept hot or cold, while other foods may be packed as you would pack a school lunch. . . .

In planning a picnic it is important:

1. To plan a menu which requires few dishes for serving, and which does not contain cooked foods that are spoiled with standing or jarring.
2. To make a list of all utensils and dishes and of the amounts and kinds of foods needed, so that none will be forgotten.
3. To pack these so that foods will not be crushed or exposed to dust or flies, so that dishes will be kept free from dust and flies, and so that thermos bottles or other glass or china containers will not be broken.
4. To pack the lunch in such containers as can be conveniently carried or placed in the available space in an automobile. It is better to pack the lunch in several light-weight baskets or boxes when it must be carried some distance by hand.
5. To take several tea towels, hand towels, and cloths to be used for emergencies, or when clearing up after the meal. . . .

To plan and prepare a picnic lunch for a number of people requires considerable work, and many times picnics are not a popular pastime because of this fact. An easy way to arrange a picnic is to make the menu, estimating the amount of each food needed, then to assign to each person a certain amount of one food to be prepared. Each person may then take her own dishes and the one prepared food, and the work of preparation is not difficult. Often the menu for a picnic is too elaborate and makes the work of preparation too difficult. Since touring has become such an important pastime in this country, it is desirable for each girl to know how to plan and prepare a picnic lunch, and to cook out-of-doors.

Source: Matthews, Mary Lockwood. Elementary Home Economics. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company,1928.
~ pp. 173-74, 177-78 ~

Home Economics Assignments

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

write a paperYour assignment today is from Introduction to Home Economics,written by Lita Bane and Mildred R. Chapin of the University of Illinois. If you can find a copy of Bane and Chapin’s book, you may find the answers. Otherwise, you’re on your own!

1945: Home Economics Assignments


1. Write a brief history of the Home Economics Movement in your section of the country ~ East, South, Middle West, or West.


1. Which institutions of higher learning first offered home economics courses in your state? In your section of the country?

2. List the names of at least three women who have been leaders in home economics in your state or region. Indicate briefly the contributions each has made.

3. Name five men who have been associated with the home economics movement. What contributions has each made to the profession?


1. Select the subject-matter field in which you are most interested (clothing, textiles, foods, nutrition, housing, institution management, etc.) and write a paper about the opportunities in that field, indicating the types of work available, nature of the work, training required, etc.


1. What positions are held by home economists in the community in which you live?

2. Are there any positions which might be held by a home economist that do not as yet require such training? List specific examples in your community.

Source: Bane, Lita and Mildred R. Chapin. Introduction to Home Economics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1945.
~ pp. 179, 226 ~