Equipping and Designing the Domestic Realm

The majority of the books displayed here date from the nineteenth century on, and this century saw a rapid increase in both the need for such guides, and in the production of them. While technologies of cooking did change in the centuries prior – for instance, the use of coal in the 1600s led to the development of a new piece of equipment for the fireplace, the basket grate –kitchen equipment remained limited. The dramatic changes of the Industrial Revolution carried over into the kitchen, with improved utensils, for instance, becoming possible as a result of improvements in the ways in which sheet metal could be rolled. With the increase in manufacturing came a much greater range of kitchen goods available, and the household reference works of the nineteenth century and beyond provided guidance to consumers.

While the poor or those in rural areas still relied on open fires well into the nineteenth centuries, those with greater means began using closed-top ranges, which allowed the user to fry, bake, or cook, all at the same time. Manufacturers also began creating gas-fueled ranges as early as the 1820s, but it was not until the 1880s that such devices became commonly available. Electric ovens first were experimented with in the late nineteenth century, and became an option for the consumer in the twentieth century.

All of these new appliances, from types of ranges and ovens, to the concept of electricity itself, are discussed in household reference works, often with illustrations. Advantages of various types of appliances are discussed, as are the most advantageous – and efficient – methods of laying out a room. The kitchen receives special attention in such guides – the idea of a built-in kitchen was not popular until the mid-twentieth century – with discussions of ventilation, light, and sanitation all part of the advice.

An old printed book cover.
The Experienced English House-Keeper

Elizabeth Raffald (1733-1781). Manchester: Printed by J. Harrop for the author, and sold by Messrs. Fletcher and Anderson, 1769.
Rare Book Collection

A metal stove-oven set.
The Book of the Household

London: The London Printing and Publishing Co., [1862-1864?] Vol. 2.
Rare Book Collection, Dr. Morris Fishbein Collection

An illustration of several decadent deserts.
Illustration from Cassell's "Household Guide, Being a Complete Encyclopaedia of Domestic and Social Economy"

London: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, [187-] Vol. 2.
Rare Book Collection.

A plain, unadorned book cover.
Cooking and Castle-Building

Emma P. Ewing (b. 1838). Chicago: Fairbanks, Palmer & Co., 1889.
Rare Book Collection

A book cover.a wrapping of words such as "the home," "social life," and "gardens."
The Woman's Book

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1894. Vol. 2.
Rare Book Collection, Given in memory of Jean F. Block by Her Friends and Family

A book cover with images of a castle and a knight.
The House: A Machine for Living In

Anthony Bertram (1897-1978). London: A. & C. Black, 1935.
Rare Book Collection