Rural Papers

snip 1snip 1aI rather enjoy reading rural papers. When reading those from my area of New York, I feel more of a connection to what I am reading. I can only imagine others feel a similar connection to those papers from their area as well. Many, though not all, have a domestic section and/or a ladies’ department or section. These are packed full of useful tidbits, from local residents’ thoughts on clothing, to household tips, to receipts. While some parts are taken from other publications, much of the contents are local and current. The example to the right is that of a comet’s expected passing and the concerns over what it will bring. I love this sort of context and perspective.

Here is a short list of those I am aware of currently.

Moore’s Rural New Yorker – Out of Rochester, NY. Links to 1861-1865 – Also, 1859  and 1854.

The Rural Repository - 1830 publication out of Hudson, NY

The Genesee Farmer – approx 1837-1863

Pennsylvania Farm Journal – 1851-2, 1854

These are different, being annual publications, but very interesting, okay fascinating in some areas: The Illustrated Annual Register of Rural Affairs.

Please, add your local publications in the comments below. I know there are many others, ie the Massachusetts Ploughman…

Btw, Other additions to the reading list:

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment  


Excerpts from: Gift Book for Young Ladies, Alcott. 1853:

“The word employment, indeed, in a very general sense, included everything which intelligent creatures can do. But there is a more particular sense, in which we frequently use it, viz., to designate or distinguish those avocations, or duties, or exercises, in which we habitually engage, in order to obtain our reputation or our livelihood.

“God has kindly made it necessary for mankind to labor, in order that they may eat and drink. That which many regard as a curse, in thus converted into a blessing. It is a blessing, because it prevents idleness, and its long train of dangers. It is a blessing, because it conduces to health; and this, in a thousand ways.

You are one of those who labor for a support, and who consequently, if you labor right, receive the blessings which are annexed. By means of this labor, you have escaped a thousand temptations and a thousand dangers. You have escaped also many diseases to which you would otherwise have been subjected, as well as much suffering which would have fallen to your lot, had not the diseases with which you have already been afflicted been greatly mitigated in regard to their severity, by your habits of exercise in the house and in the garden.

“Some young women have been less fortunate. Their employments have been assigned to them by parents who did not understand their temperaments, or their tendencies to disease. Perhaps they ought to have been house-keepers; but they have been made milliners or seamstresses. Their temperaments and diseased constitutions require active exercise and free space; but they have been deprived of both.

“Others, predisposed to scrofula or consumption, to whom active exercise, in the open air, is more necessary, if possible, than to any other class, are plunged into the factory. There, in a vitiated, overheated atmosphere, they spend twelve, fourteen, or sixteen hours of each day, and hardly breathe a better atmosphere when they return to their boarding-houses, and retire to their sleeping-rooms.

“Here again, you have been peculiarly fortunate. Had you been consigned, at ten, twelve, or fourteen years of age, to a hot, murky, foul air of a tailor’s shop, or the factory, or what is but little better, the confined and often very impure air of a millinery, you would probably have been laid in your grave seven or eight years ago. Or had you survived, your life would have been of little value to yourself, or to those around you.

“And yet your constitution is as well fitted for sedentary employments as hundreds and thousands, who are trained to them. But observe, if you please, that not all who are trained to an employment pursue it as a means of earning a livelihood. Not a few fall into their business, at least if they do not cripple themselves so as to be unfitted for any other.

“That a few die, as a result of a wrong choice of occupation by the parent, (for it is on parents and masters that the blame must, after all, principally fall,) though a great evil, is an evil not half so great as another which I could name – and which, indeed, I must advert to briefly , in order to complete my plan.

“I refer to the deterioration of the race, to which we belong. Now it is alike a doctrine of scripture and reason, that none of us live or die to ourselves. Indeed, such is the structure of society, that we cannot do so, if we would.

“Suppose a young woman goes into a factory as well ordered as those of Lowell. Suppose that by virtue of a good constitution, she does not actually become sick. Suppose she is even able to remain six, or eight, or ten years.

“Will any one say that because she does not die at the factory, or does not come out of it crippled for life, therefore no great mischief is done? Has the question ever yet been settled, which is the greatest actual loss to society, one person killed outright, or ten, or twenty, or forty injured; some of them greatly injured, for the rest of their lives?

“And as a whole tendency of the whole thing is and must be downward – that is, to the deterioration of successive generations – has it ever been ascertained how much more one life is worth in the present generation, than one in the next, or third? To explain a little. Suppose a course to be taken in life with regard to employment, which, while it permits the individual to linger out half her days or more amid many ills, yet with entire certainty entails an offspring the possibility – aye, the necessity – of dying prematurely, and of being good for nothing, except by being a burden to try the patience, and faith, and love of others. Is it settled that such a course is right?

“As the cultivation of our mother earth, in a rational manner, is, after all, the most honorable and most useful employment for our sex, so the kindred occupation of taking care of the house, and feeding the bodies, minds, and hearts of its occupants, is the noblest employment – the blessed prerogative, may I not call it – of your own.

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Art of Easy Living

Expert from: Orange Blossoms, a Gift-book, by T.S. Arthur

“I can’t, for the life of me, see how you get on so easily, Mrs. Jones,” said merry Ellen, to her mother’s nearest neighbor; “your family is larger than ours, and you have less help – but you are always in time. Come when I will, I find things in good order – no bustle, fuss, or confusion. Now, we are all at work from morning till night at our house, and our work is never done. There must be a witch-work about it – some secret – do tell us, won’t you?”

“Why, Ellen, I don’t know that there is any great secret about it; all I can tell is, I don’t seem to work very hard, but somehow I do get along very easy, as you say, with all that seems to fall to my lot.”

“Well, we all know that, Mrs. Jones; and we know, too, that you do more reading and writing than any one of us can, and you visit the sick more, and find time for everything that is good. Oh! There is some secret, and you must tell me all about it.”

“Yes, Ellen, I will tell you all I know about it, for you’re a clever girl, and will make a first rate wife for Fred some day; but you must promise to try and make my secret of practical use to yourself, and teach it to everybody else.”

Ellen blushed, and almost wished she had not been so impertinent. But Ellen was a good, sensible girl, and was impressed with the idea that Fred would want a wire somewhat resembling his mother in domestic matters; so she stooped down and tied her shoe, to hide her confusion. Mrs. Jones laid down her strainer, (for it was yet early in the morning, and she had still a long day before her,) took her babe on her knee, and picking up a basket of green peas that were to be shelled for dinner, she sat down to nurse her little infant to sleep, take the peas out of their pods, and tell her story.

“Well, Ellen, my secret is just this: When I go out to shake the table-cloth, I always bring in a bundle of wood; I seldom take two steps where on will answer, and try to do everything the shortest way. I pulverize saleratus enough to last a month at a time, keep it in a convenient vessel, and then it is always ready for use; – no untying papers, scattering them over the cupboard-floor; no board, rolling-pin, or mortar to clean but once. Instead of beating by eggs with a knife or a spoon, I have a whip made of wire, bent in an oblong shape like a tassel, and tied with a bit of twine to a hickory handle, and I can beat the whites of six eggs to a standing form in two minutes as easily as you would in half an hour with a knife. Anybody can make a egg-whip that can whittle a stick, of find a piece of wire, if they cannot afford to buy one. I only mention these things as samples of time-saving. But if you will not be offended, I will tell you a little story.”

“Offended! Not. I. It’s the silliest thing in the world to get offended, particularly with those who wish us to do good.”

“Well then, Ellen, I was out taking tea with a neighbour last week, and we went into the dairy and cheese-room to see the cheese; and as we came back we stopped a few minutes to chat in the kitchen. The lady told her daughter she might make some flannel-cakes, or griddle-cakes, as some call them, for supper. She started off to fulfil the appointed task. First she ran down to the cellar and brought up the buttermilk-jar, holding almost a pailful; then she ran back for the eggs, untied a half-pound of saleratus, scattered one spoonful on the floor and another on the table, rolled it, and tied it up; next turned her buttermilk out, and spattered a new dress at the waist; -splashed it over the table on divers things, and said, “oh, pshaw!” – picked up the saleratus from the floor, cleaned her dress, and brought a plate; rant to the store-room, and came back with a heaped-up plate of flour; put it into the pan, and stirred away, backwards and forwards, till it was all submerged and all lumps! There was not flour enough; away she ran again, and brought more; still there was not enough; a third journey had to be made for it; then it was dashed in, and she stirred away till her face glowed like a peony. All at once she thought of her eggs, and broke them into the batter. She had forgotten the salt, and ran a fourth time into the store-room. Now her batter was too thick, and more buttermilk had to be used, and consequently the saleratus paper had to undergo another untying. Finally, after much labour and toil, and an expenditure of much time, and waste of material, the lumpy batter was ready for use. But here was a new trouble; the fire that was just right half an hour before, was now exhausted; the griddle, which had been set upon the stove at first, burned rough; the kitchen and anti-room were full of unpleasant smoke and odour of burnt grease – the cakes stuck fast to the iron – two messes were wasted before the griddle could be rubbed smooth; the dish-cloths were in sad plights; and the young lady had expended as much labour as would have prepared the whole meal, and set the table in order.”

“Oh dear! That was I myself; anybody might know the picture! But how would you have managed?”

“I should have taken my pan and spoon; put my saleratus into the pan; gone down to the cellar, and with my cup, which I keep in the jar for this purpose, dipped the buttermilk, without spattering it, into my pan; then broken the eggs while I stirred in the flour; dropped in a little salt; and returned to the kitchen, all in five minutes, without having one thing out of place, except the egg-shells, and those I should have removed some other time. So you see instead of four journeys to the cellar, two to carry back, and four to the store-room, I should have done the whole work, saved my strength, saved the wear and tear of my shoes, saved the soil of my dress, saved the fire, the annoyance, and a good half-hour for something else, and had a better mess of cakes for a supper into the bargain. And this is only one half-hour saved, in getting one meal, by one hand. It took three people longer by half to prepare supper that night, than it would have taken me to have got it ready alone.

“But, look! Here’s the baby fast asleep, and the peas are all shelled, so my story must be wound up, for it’s time to whey off the curd. If this bit of experience does you any good, I will tell you another story some day.”

About the “Egg-Whip”:

The American Home Cook Book, 1864

Miss Beecher’s Version, 1864

The Illustrated London Cookery, 1852

1861 Patent

1872/3 Patent

Published in: on March 24, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

“Home”Excerpt from The Young Lady by Anna Fergurson

Originally posted on If I Had My Own Blue Box::

Let what will be said of the pleasures of society, there is after all, “no place like home.” How beautiful are the relationships of home! How exquisitely touching to feelings! All are linked to each other by the most intimate and endearing ties; – a power like that of electricity; so that one cannot enjoy pleasure, without the  others participating therein; one cannot sorrow, but all must mourn; nor one be honored, but all must share the joy.

And as home is that place which has the strongest ties upon the feelings, so it is the place in which woman has the power of exerting her influence in the greatest degree. This is her true and proper station; the duties of home are peculiarly hers; and let it not be thought that, in assigning home as the appropriate sphere for her action, we are assigning her a mean and…

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Published in: on March 23, 2015 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is the FanU “Blue Swap” Sign-up Day

BluesToday is the day to sign-up for the FanU The Blue Swap!

For Blue Swap, we will exchange Blue color fabrics from the 19th century.

We will mail our fabrics on March 30th

Please read all the details below. 

To Sign-up, simply comment below with your email and mailing address. (I’ll erase those before approving your comment, so the whole world doesn’t have that info.)

What is a Swap?

This is a chance for to exchange fabric with a small group of people. Each group will have 8 people exchanging pieces of fabric. All you need is a half yard of fabric and envelopes along with your copy of Fanciful Utility.

To Participate:

1: Sign Up Day!
On sign-up day, groups will be assigned on a first-in basis; the first eight will be the first swap group, second eight in the second group, etc. **Please be certain you will be able to fully participate by mailing your fabrics on the Mail-Out Date.**

The Blue Swap Sign-Up Day: March 20th


2: Mail-Out Day:
Place a 9×9″ piece of fabric suited to the mid-19th century in envelopes for each of the 7 other people in your swap group, stamp them (be sure to double check at the post office, but the small 9×9″ pieces should mail in a regular envelope with a normal stamp), and send them off no later than the Mail-Out Day.

The Blue Swap Mailing Day: March 30th


3: Get Fanciful!
Use your Fanciful Utility templates and techniques to make a project from the book, or copy your own from 19th century sources. We’ll all look forward to seeing your projects! You don’t have to sew right away, but don’t keep us waiting forever to see all the fun things!

(If you need a copy of Fanciful Utility, you can purchase them from the publisher at

Fabric Guidelines:

  1. For the cotton and silk categories, your fabric should be early to mid-nineteenth century appropriate. (If there is a want for an earlier or later group, we can do that.) Prints and motifs should reflect those available in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. Cotton should be 100% cotton. Silk should be 100% silk.
  2. To keep the swap and sewing possibilities interesting, please avoid solids as best we can.
  3. Fabrics that do not work well for sewing cases should not be swapped. These include sheers, gauzes, heavy, thick, easy-to-fray, slippery and stretch fabrics.
  4. For the “crazy swap” category, think crazy quilt in a sewing case. This could include satins, velvets, textured fabrics. Quality synthetic fabrics are invited.

Swapper Guidelines:

  1. Please be certain you can fully participate in the swap before you sign-up.
  2. If something arises after you sign-up that will effect the date you are mailing your fabrics, please email your group so everyone is aware.
  3. If you fail to fully participate in a swap, you will not be able to sign-up for future swaps. (We do understand medical and family emergencies. I need to be able to ensure swappers will receive fabrics when they send fabrics out.)


Yes, you can participate in 1, 2 or 3 of the swaps.

Yes, if we end up with multiple groups, you can participate in more than one group to swap more fabric. If you participate in 2 groups, you should swap 2 fabrics.

Yes, you can swap large and small scale prints.

Yes, you can swap now and sew later.

Yes, we would love to see what you’ve made with the swapped fabric.

Yes, you can use your own fabric in your swapped project.

Published in: on March 20, 2015 at 6:01 am  Comments (7)  

Canandaigua Lady Excursion

This is information for the small group of us taking an excursion on the Canandaigua Lady.

We are each making our own reservations for this excursion. Please call Sara at: (585) 233-5019  (585) 396-7350 to schedule the July 10th tour at 6:30 without the meal and with upper deck access. (You can order online, but there is a $6 fee.)Please comment below or in the Facebook event page that you have made your reservation.

Afternoon/Evening Excursion on the Canandaigua Lady

Date: Friday, July 10th, 2015

Boarding time:  6:15

Cost: $22.00

Duration: 2 hours (630-8:30)

Address: Docked at 205 Lakeshore Drive in Canandaigua, NY

Pre/Post Picnic at Kershaw Beach Park (adjacent to the boat launch.)

For our picnic, please bring:

  • A picnic blanket
  • Food for yourself in period containers
  • If you bring food to share, please bring a list of ingredients
  • Period entertainment if you wish.

***I will add to this page as we develop more information. Please be sure to check back.***

Map: Map

Historical Inquiry:

I am looking for mid-century images and textual references of the steamboat passengers.

An image of Canandaigua Lake and one of her steam boats in the mid-century:

Joseph Wood on Canandaigua Lake

Account of a picnic on the lake and a steamboat – Village Life in America, P27

Picturesque Canandaigua, 1899

A late century photo of the pier and a steamboat.

An illustration of a Water Cure resort on a different lake.

Cr0quet at Sonnenberg, not dated. (approx 1867-70. Visual of recreation in Canandaigua.)

This looks like a similar size steamboat in 1858. It is a river boat though. Some women and children shown.

Published in: on March 18, 2015 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The State of Things

I have now gone several days without sewing. Normally, when I am sick I just fall asleep with project in hand, needle and thread in mid-stitch. This round, I do not have the energy to do even that and I am just to icky all around. (So, why did I go to work? Because I am an idiot. Because I hate dealing with the mess. Because I am an idiot.) As a ick infected germ monster, I reserve the right to be cranky and say things I would not otherwise say. So, that being said, let us call the next section of this post “um, no”.

Um, No…

With the mid-19th century and earlier straw in mind….

  • If any part of the bonnet will melt…. um, no
  • If the seller claims the shape is good from the 18th century through mid-19th…. um, no
  • If a bonnet is shiny…. um, no.
  • If any part of the bonnet is machine sewn …. um, no
  • If it makes a dry crackling sounds… um, no
  • If it flops or sags…. um, no
  • If it is “made to fold”….um, no

“Just History”

Okay maybe this is just a tad over the catty line. But, I’m sick, I don’t care.

This was actually said. Yes. Really. Some of us who interpret history happen to like history. We happen to think history is important; that research is important.

I accept that maybe this was a slip of the tongue and not meant in the way it was taken. I accept that I read the statement in between boughts of coughing, sneezing and fever spikes. But, really???

“When you get one in”

Now, this statement I am actually glad this person made. This tells me there are people out there, possibly many people, who think I have straw bonnet forms arrive at my house that I shape into era specific bonnets. Um, no. This is not the case. What arrives at my house is straw plait, aka straw braid. The straw is one long strand coiled into a hank.It must be checked for flaws or knots; sections are sometimes exiled. (I really aught to start making the birds in the area nests.) The plait/braid I prefer to use is between 1/4″ and 1/2″. I sew each and every single row by hand. Each row must be adjusted for tension and curve to create the specific shape I am developing. I use cotton thread and very strong, sharp needles specifically designed for straw. Once the form is made, it is wired with millinery wire and blocked with one of two sizing/blocking solutions to firm the straw to hold the form and longer life.

Published in: on March 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (5)  

Dress Reform

1854 Aug

Published in: on March 15, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Dress Reform

1854 June

Published in: on March 14, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  

Dress Reform

1854 Feb

Published in: on March 13, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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