The House-Keeper’s Guide and Indian Doctor

 This volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection, published in New York in 1852, is a fascinating collection of Americana including basic, everyday cooking recipes, medical remedies, and letter writing advice that amounts to a form of contemporary “pop psychology.”

The author of this fascinating mid-nineteenth century collection is not credited, but hints suggest that the material is not original and was compiled by the publisher from other sources. The recipes for a broad range of dishes represent basic cooking of the day obviously meant as an “everyday” household resource. In a long section titled “Indian Doctor,” medical treatment advice and remedies for every imaginable ailment from cholera and scarlet fever to corns and catarrh are included, and there is a substantial section on hair and skin treatment describing lotions and creams for everything from “preventing hair from falling” to curing freckles and pimples.

 The intriguing section “American Letter Writer” described as “letters on relationship” contains several dozen sample letters that family members and associates might write to each other in a wide variety of situations. For example: “From the Daughter to the Mother, in excuse for her neglect,” “From a Mother in town, to a Daughter at School in the country, recommending the practice of Virtue,” “From a Daughter to her Father, pleading for her Sister, who had married without his consent,” “From an officer to a Lady with whom he is in Love,” “The Officer’s Letter to the Lady’s Father,” and sample answers from the Lady and her father.
 This edition of The Housekeeper’s Guide and Indian Doctor was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.

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