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Health, Diet, and Keeping House

Catharine Beecher (1800-1878)
Miss Beecher’s Housekeeper and Healthkeeper (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1874)
MU Special Collections
Closed Collection
TX145 .B42 1874

Catharine Beecher portrait
Image credit: Wikipedia

Catharine Beecher, the sister of the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, was an early feminist and advocate of women’s education.  Beecher was at the forefront of the home economics movement, which sought to provide a scientific foundation for women’s work in the home.

Although Miss Beecher’s Housekeeper and Healthkeeper contains more than five hundred recipes and household hints, it is much more than a cookbook.  Beecher devotes an entire chapter to the argument that it is more important for women to receive scientific education than men, because their traditional roles as wife, mother, and homemaker directly affect the entire family.  She includes chapters on the latest medical, chemical and scientific advances as they relate to cooking and nutrition, including diagrams of the body’s systems, a discussion of cells and microscopy, and a breakdown of the chemical components of foods.

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