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Child, Lydia Maria.

American Frugal Housewife, dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy.


Child, Mrs. Lydia Maria. The American Frugal Housewife, dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. Fifteenth edition, enlarged and corrected by the author. Boston: Carter, Hendee and Co., 1834.
8vo.; foxed; grey paper-covered boards printed in black; brown linen spine; soiled and edgeworn.
Fifteenth edition; enlarged and corrected by the author. The Frugal Housewife was originally published in 1829, and went through twenty editions in seven years; after the seventh edition, in 1832, it was renamed the American Frugal Housewife. On the rear of the title page it is noted, "It has become necessary to change the title of this work to the 'American Frugal Housewife,' because there is an English work of the same name, not adapted to the wants of this country." See BAL 3104, Lowenstein 119, Bitting p. 86 (for the 1832 edition).
Commercially, this book was a success thanks to the practical advice, good sense and rather advanced ideas on household management Child advocated. She writes in her Introduction, "The writer has no apology to offer for this cheap little book of economical hints, except for her deep conviction that such a book is needed. In this case, renown is out of the question, and ridicule is a matter of indifference." She goes on to say,
The information conveyed is the common kind; but it is such as the majority of young housekeepers do not possess, and such as they cannot obtain from cookery books. Books of this kind have usually been written for the wealthy: I have written for the poor…I have attempted to teach how money can be saved, not how it can be enjoyed.
Indeed, in addition to providing recipes and remedies, she includes chapters on "General Maxims for Health," "Education for Daughters," and "Philosophy and Consistency," where she champions the frugal mentality in experts in the field, quoting "Mrs. Barbauld," Germanicus and Matrona.
Child was spurred to write this book by a need to economize in her own household. Her husband, David - who had already been scorned by Lydia's family as impractical and a poor marriage prospect - managed his money and career unwisely. Lydia was forced into a life of frugality and thrift, something that would plague the couple throughout their marriage.

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