Penn Library

HOUSEHOLD WORDS: Women Write from and for the Kitchen

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The New Housekeeper's Manual
by Catherine E. Beecher & Harriet Beecher Stowe
New York: J.B. Ford, 1873


The New Housekeeper's Manual is the collaboration of two of the nineteenth century's most influential and powerful social reformers, Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Both women exerted profound influence on American letters and on the shape of American domestic life and educational reform. Although they agreed on both the role of education for women and the worth and dignity of women's labor, they disagreed about the extent to which women should engage in political affairs. Beecher Stowe approved suffrage for women; her sister, Catherine Beecher, did not. Catherine Beecher felt that women's domain was home and duty to family. Through this work and self-sacrifice, women could influence and suffuse the larger society with feminine values. Both women's lives were marked by tragedy. Catherine Beecher's life was radically altered by the death of her fiance. Harriet Beecher Stowe was devastated by the loss of two of her children, and it was this tragedy that awakened her to the suffering of Black slaves, often separated from their children. As a supporter of the abolitionist movement, Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, which used the powerful symbols of home and of the kitchen to expose the immorality of slavery.

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