Mistresses and Maids, Masters and Servants

Early cookbooks may have been difficult to define, but the hierarchy within a household was strictly elucidated, as seen in the many domestic manuals printed. These guides ranged from standalone works to directions contained within larger household manuals, and were written both for those in service and those supervising a staff.

For instance, the Footman's Directory, written by an experienced butler, provides specific instructions for dealing with daily tasks a footman would be expected to perform, as well as general advice on avoiding temptations and conducting oneself in a becoming manner. Eliza Heywood, perhaps better known for her novels, also penned the helpful A New Present for a Servant Maid, offering both moral and practical advice.

Middle-class women increasingly became a target audience for guides on managing domestic staff, as seen in works such as Housecraft. Such publications demonstrate that it was not always the servant who needed instruction: the middle class (or those who aspired to middle or high class status) who had not grown up with domestic help now had expert advice books guiding them through the process of hiring help and supervising the running of the home.

Several women working in a large kitchen.
A New Present for a Servant-Maid

Eliza Fowler Haywood (1693?-1756). London: Printed for G. Pearch and H. Gardner, 1771.
John Crerar Collection of Rare Books in the History of Science and Medicine

A fancy book cover with swirly decorations.
Ladurelle, M imoire pour servir [...] la cuisine

Crerar Ms 118. 1700's. Special Collections Research Center

An old book cover.
The Footman's Directory, and Butler's Remembrancer

Thomas Cosnett. London: Printed for the Author and sold by J. Hatchard and Son, 1824.
Rare Book Collection

An old printed page of text.
Live and Let Live: or, Domestic Service Illustrated

Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867). New York: Harper & Brothers, 1854.
Historical Children's Book Collection, Gift of Walter L. Necker

An old printed book cover.
The Philosophy of Housekeeping, a Scientific and Practical Manual

Joseph B. Lyman (1829-1872). Revised ed. New York: H. A. Street, 1869.
Rare Book Collection, Presented in Memory of Cora B. Perrine

A plain book cover.
Housecraft, Principles and Practice

Ruth Binnie. London : Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1926.
Rare Book Collection