The Intellectual House-keeper

A Series of Practical Questions to His Daughter by a Father

Published in Boston in 1835, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection is a New England father’s attempt to educate his young daughters in their household duties, with particular emphasis on kitchen management and cooking.

When Seth Arnold’s wife became ill, he took over management of the household until he himself became temporarily unable to perform the chores. He soon realized that although his daughters could perform various tasks, they had no idea how to take over planning and everyday maintenance of the home. He wrote The Intellectual House-keeper to help the girls plan for and anticipate the tasks necessary in order to become household managers and not just domestic servants of their parents.
Through a series of questions organized by day of the week and season of the year, Arnold encourages the girls to think for themselves, develop independence, and plan in advance for home and kitchen chores. There are also sections on managing illness, wounds, furniture, and clothing.
“This may be used as a kind of family school-book, to assist parents in educating their daughters for business. If mothers will take the pains to teach their daughters in a regular manner, one week [of chores], by a series of practical questions . . . How much might they save their girls from unpleasant and mortifying circumstances, and their husbands from great trouble, care, anxiety, and unhappiness!”

About the Author

 Seth Shaler Arnold was born in 1788 in Westminster, Vermont, and educated at Deerfield Academy and Middlebury College. He served in the war of 1812 and studied for the ministry for several years before becoming a clergyman in Alstead, New Hampshire. Returning to Westminster to help his aged father, he continued his ministerial career by acting as a "supply" or interim pastor, and occasional preacher, mixing it with various farming enterprises. Arnold had three wives and four daughters.

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