Penn Library Exhibitions

HOUSEHOLD WORDS: Women Write from and for the Kitchen

Images from:
Bailey's Dictionarium Domesticum
by Nathan Bailey
London: C. Hitch, 1736

Title page

Women found ways to create a legacy for their daughters and establish a female lineage. The inscription of this text reads: "Abiah Darby, her book, 1746, given her by her husband, 7th month, 3 :1746. It cost about 6/; [subsequently owned by] Mary Darby & Sarah Darby dated: 1827." Keeping a receipt book was also a way in which women managed an identity of respectability and devotion to family.


The frontispiece depicts women at their various household tasks and on the flyleaf is a drawing of an animal, perhaps done by a child. The book is a lovely example of the ways in which household books were also memoirs.


Bailey's Dictionary although "never reprinted in America . . . was everywhere by far the most popular and representative English dictionary of the eighteenth century, the dictionary in common use in this country when Washington was a schoolboy" and still cost 6 shillings in 1761. Written for the populace, its cost as well as its size was well suited for its audience. "This then is the dictionary that during our most formative century stood on the American family's small bookshelf between the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress" (Reynolds n.d.).

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Last update: Tuesday, 09-Apr-96 17:05:00 EDT
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