The Young Housekeeper

Or, Thoughts on Food and Cookery

Published in Boston in 1846, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection by the president and founder of the American Vegetarian Society and one of the most prolific authors in early American history provides information about women’s role as a housekeeper in early America as well as advice, recipes, and lofty aspirations regarding proper preparation of meals, following a vegetarian diet, and utilizing a housekeeper’s limited time. 

Printed in at least twenty editions by 1851, The Young Housekeeper was a successful work by prolific author and president of the American Vegetarian Society, William A. Alcott. Of the 108 books authored by Alcott, The Young Housekeeper focuses on the role of mothers and housekeepers in the healthy preparation of food for the family. Alcott stressed that the types of food consumed as well as the method of preparation all combined to be “best for their whole being, here and hereafter.” While Alcott’s beliefs and aspirations are informative about mid-19th century reform, The Young Housekeeper also provides recipes for simple vegetarian meals from chapters such as The Apple, The Pear, and The Cucumber. 


This edition of The Young Housekeeper 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

 William A. Alcott was the first president of the American Vegetarian Society as well as a physician, teacher, reformer, and author. He wrote a total of 108 books covering subjects such as education reform, design, family life, diet, and physical education. As an active member in the health reform, Alcott believed that vegetarianism helped lead a person to a more spiritual life besides just being better for the body. He remained stringent in his vegetarian diet until his death in 1859 at the age of 60.  

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