The New Housekeeper’s Manual

Published in New York in 1873, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection is a collaboration of two of the most influential and powerful social reformers of the 19th century, Catharine Esther Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book combines two of their works to include “original” recipes that were extensively tested and written in “short, simple and perspicuous language” with a philosophical and practical treatise on maintaining an “economical, healthful, beautiful, and Christian home.”      

Published in 1873 in New York, The New Housekeeper’s Manual was written by Catharine Esther Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, two of the most influential women writers and activists of their time. Both women exerted profound influence on American letters and on the shape of American domestic life and educational reform. The book combines two works by the sisters in one volume. The American Woman’s Home: Or Principles of Domestic Science describes kitchen and home design, coping with kitchen appliances and newly invented gadgets, cooking healthful food and drink, caring for the sick with medical recipes, and gardening with plants and domestic animals. The Handy Cook-Book is a “complete, condensed guide to wholesome, economical, and delicious cooking with nearly 500 choice and tested recipes.” The authors assert that their extensive manual was designed specifically for middle-class housewives, versus others written for women with money and servants. It includes housekeeping information and dishes for every occasion that the practical-minded housewife might need. The New Housekeeper’s Manual was well received and had over 25 printings in 25 years. 


This edition of The New Housekeeper’s Manual 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     

About the Author

Catharine Esther Beecher was one of the most influential social reformers of her time, and she practically invented the science of home economics. Beecher did not support women’s suffrage, believing that a woman’s domain was home and duty to family and that through this work, as opposed to active political involvement, women could influence society with feminine values. She actively promoted education, specifically for women, as well as home economics for housewives. Beecher was a prolific writer and among other works wrote Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book, and with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, The American Woman’s Home
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author, a national celebrity in her day. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin depicted life under slavery for African Americans, using the powerful symbols of home and kitchen to expose the immorality of slavery. The novel reached millions as a novel and play, influencing the abolitionist cause in America and Britain and energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. Although Stowe agreed with her sister on the role of education for women and the worth and dignity of women’s labor, she disagreed with Catharine on the extent to which women should engage in politics, and she approved of women’s suffrage.      

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