Tuesday, March 30, 2021

"Little Housewives" Learn How To Boil An Egg!


My room is packed from floor to ceiling with boxes full of old photos, old newspapers, old writings and old memories. Occasionally I randomly dip into a box and scan what emerges. Today it is a copy of the New Penny Magazine from - as far as I can make out - about 1898. It contains an article entitled "Little Housewives" which could form the basis of a PhD thesis on gender stereotyping at the turn of the twentieth century. Here is but a short extract:-

LITTLE HOUSEWIVES : A Visit To A Housewifery Centre
The frying-pan rules the world, or rather those who wield that powerful weapon do so; or to put it in a more matter-of-fact way, the happiness of man depends in great part upon the skill or otherwise of those who manage the household; or to come really to the point, a good housewife is a boon and a blessing to the man who is lucky enough to win her for his mate.

Bearing this weighty fact in mind, I turned my steps one afternoon towards Walworth, S.E. or, to be precise, I went down there by train, and found myself first in Beresford Street, then in a school-yard, full of merry maidens of immature age, who looked on me, I have no doubt, as a strange thing strayed from another world, for what business had a man there? Before me stood a small house, at whose door I timidly knocked, I entered to find myself in a neat kitchen, on the left I saw an equally neat scullery, on the right a cool-looking tidy sitting room. I was in the "housewifery centre", which I had come to see, where I had heard that girls were initiated into the mysteries of house-keeping.

COOKERY AND DOMESTIC ECONOMY
LESSON IX : Theory - (a) Eggs; their chief constituents. (b) How to test and preserve them. Demonstration - Poaching an egg. Custard pudding. Boiled batter pudding. Class Practice - In above and boiling an egg. Principle Taught - Dietary value of eggs, various methods of using and cooking them.

DOMESTIC ECONOMY AND LAUNRY WORK
LESSON IV : Theory - The process of washing, rinsing and blueing clothes. Blue and whence obtained. Demonstration - Washing "fine things", rinsing and blueing.

It will form a suitable calendar photo for today, and perhaps remind me how to boil an egg.

3 comments:

  1. Sunnyside Secondary Modern School still had a well equipped House Craft Room when I was there in the 1950's. The girls learnt to laundry, iron, make beds and cook dishes far more appetizing than boiled eggs. In addition to regular class rooms, the school had a sewing room, art room, science room, woodwork room, music room, library, a garden and a large assembly hall.

    The school was later classed as a "sink" secondary modern, closed down and demolished. To my mind it was doing a better job than most schools of today. Where have we gone wrong?

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  2. O dear, it seems that my early comment on this post hasn't made it past the moderator. Surely my praise for the the courses offered at Sunnyside Secondary Modern School can't be contrary to social media community guidelines. I'll have you know that we were far more respectable than some I know who attended Heath Grammar.

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  3. This is absolutely classic!

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