The Housekeeper’s Manual

Or, Complete Housewife

 Published in New York in 1831, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection by an unknown author is an Americanization of one of the most famous British cookbooks of all time—The Cook’s Oracle by Dr. William Kitchiner. 

An important and fascinating document of American social history, The Housekeeper’s Manual, or Complete Housewife is believed to be an adapted version of the British best seller The Cook’s Oracle; and Housekeeper’s Manual by Dr. William Kitchiner. Intended as “a Guide for Families,” the cookbook provides recipes for “the most simple and most highly finished” dishes, all tested personally by the author, which was uncommon in the early 19th century. Furthermore, each household tip or skill was also performed by Dr. Kitchiner to test each method before writing the entry. The contents include helpful and quaint information such as “large pears should be tied up by the stalk” or “to preserve blankets from moths [it is best] to fold them and lay them under the feather beds that are in use” as well as recipes for stewing oysters, dressing halibut, preparing beef broth, and boiling ground rice milk. 


Combined with the charming household information and the treasured recipes, The Housekeeper’s Manual, or Complete Housewife also calls for wives to be involved in the financial concerns of the household and serve as active members of the family, making this tome a particularly significant historical collection.


This edition of The Housekeeper’s Manual, or Complete Housewife 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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