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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Odd Books: Kitchen Garden

In response to Ann Althouse's request for interesting and strange books:

I have been collecting cookbooks for years and came upon this very strange book that was wrongly filed in the cookbook section.

It isn't a cook book AT ALL. Copyright 1878 by Emily Huntington. New York City. The book is actually a 'primer' to teach little children how to be maids, servants and to work in the houses of the rich.

QUOTED "To My Friends and the Young Ladies of New York City. Whose noble and persevering efforts have enabled me to deveop this scheme.

And to the MUSICIAN (she capitalizes it this way) Whose inspiring accompaniments have ever fanned our enthusiasm" Um....yeah. I bet the MUSICAN was fanning more than just Ms. Huntington's enthusiasm.

It contains music scores and rhymes and games to teach the children how to lay a fire, set the table, clean the dishes and answer the door!!

Evidently this was shortly after the Civil War and with all the orphans and immigrants from Europe pouring into the City there was a lot of poverty. Poor sweet wealthy Ms. Huntington pondered and pondered on how to fix this.......

I know!! she said.....let's make all these children into servants. "In schools they are taught to read in class; why not to cook, sweep, make beds, and wash dishes?" Don't bother to teach them skills that might help them rise above poverty. Nah..... we need servants and LOOK a whole crop that we can train properly.

Hilarious... even then the elites in New York City were completely out of touch with the "common" people. Some things never change.

They have songs, piano scores and learning exercises. Here is part of one song for Washing the Dishes.

  • Washing dishes, washing dishes
  • Suds are hot, suds are hot,
  • Work away briskly, work away briskly;
  • Do not stop, do not stop.

  • First the glasses, first the glasses;
  • Wash them well, wash them well
  • If you do them nicely, if you do them nicely
  • All can tell, all can tell

  • Then the silver, then the silver
  • Must be bright, must be bright
  • Work away swiftly, work away swiftly
  • With your might, with your might

And so on until the dishes were done. to sweep the floor.


  1. What kind of music was she listening to? I can't possibly imagine what would fit that song.

    -Excellent find

  2. Seems obvious to me that this tune fits the words perfectly.

    I wish I'd known that song when my 2-year old wanted to help wash the dishes. (Git 'em while they're still in the "Me do! Me do! Lemme do!" stage is my motto.)

  3. just linked this article on my face book account. it’s a very interesting article for all.

    Kitchen garden