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130 Years of Good Housekeeping Tips


On May 2, 1885, the first issue of Good Housekeeping was published, and today it is one of the  five surviving "Seven Sisters" of women's magazines. In some ways, the word "housekeeping" alone seems like an artifact, but you don't need to be a gourmet chef or interior decorating savant to enjoy these highlights from the last one hundred and thirty years of Good Housekeeping.  As Loretta Lynn would say, "We've come a long way, baby."

Good Housekeeping


In the first issue of Good HousekeepingMaria Parloa writes, "It is unfortunate that a prejudice exists against the high-sounding names given to some delicious dishes of a simple character." Unfortunate indeed! Luckily, Parloa provides a recipe for the simply named Fried Bread. It may sound too basic to even require a recipe, but au contraire. The 1885 instructions will provide incredible insights, such as the fact that blue smoke is nothing to be afraid of when you're cooking: "Cut a quantity of stale bread into little squares the size of caramels. Have at hand a deep pan containing fat so hot that blue smoke rises from the center, and put into it enough bread to cover the surface of the fat. When browned, remove with a skimmer, and drain on coarse brown paper. A minute should suffice for the cooking. A frying pan may be used if you have no deeper pan. The fat should be about an inch deep. Immediately after removing all the bread remove the pan from the stove, and when the fat has become partially cooled, strain it through a cheese cloth. Such a practice will enable you to use the fat dozens of times. The straining clears it of crumbs, which would otherwise become burnt and spoil the fat after a few minutes' using."


Hamlet may have thought the question was "To be or not to be," but at age ten, Good Housekeeping published an article called "To Cycle or Not to Cycle." Hester M. Poole considers the attire of the "wheelwoman" for afternoon bicycle rides: "In regard to a cycling costume, much has been written. While it must be comfortable, its fashion and material is a matter of taste. Generally the rider finds that a blouse waist and a skirt of dark cloth reaching to the ankle, cut rather close about the hips and loose at the knee, is most serviceable. It is easy, modest and becoming." If you're inspired to dress as wheelwoman for next Halloween, you're not alone.


Before there was Cesar Milan, there was the "professor." In her article "The Training of Domestic Animals," Sarah Comstock reports on his puppy boarding school. Comstock elaborates the progression of tricks that domestic animals may learn, very wisely writing, "The somersault is one of the hardest tricks taught. A double somersault once took an intelligent dog two patient years of study.  This is a trick that no animal will perform of its own accord." Video retorts are welcome.


Germaphobes, this one's for you! In 1915, Good Housekeeping published "Keep Away From Infections" by Woods Hutchinson A.M., M.D.  According to Dr. Hutchinson, there are a few things to help ease your mind. First of all, don't worry about babies. "The babies themselves," he writes, "seldom play a very active part in the spread of infection, by reason of the obvious shortness of their pudgy legs." Secondly, feel free to keep breathing: "Comparatively few diseases are spread through the air, actual contact and carriage into the mouth, nose, or blood, are usually necessary. Kissing, fighting, and the syndicate purchase or cooperative consumption of blocks of candy-stocks are potent factors." Sure, you'll miss cooperatively consuming candy-stocks and fighting. But what's a small sacrifice for your health?


It's not always easy wearing glasses. When it rains, you have to dry the drops off. A case is necessary to prevent scratches. But what you may never have thought of is how to deal with descending steps. One of Good Housekeeping Institutes's "Well-Timed Discoveries" addresses precisely this problem, however: "For Persons Wearing Bifocal Glasses - For the benefit of those who wear bifocals, I suggest the following: I had an inch-wide white strip painted along the edge of our gray porch and on each step. The white lines show plainly even at night, and there is no danger of falling." How do you spell ingenuity?


Did you know that hands can stew in bitterness? Yes, those five-fingered things have their sensitivities too. Demetria M. Taylor, an expert in one's relationship to one's hands, writes, "Dishes need extremely hot water, but hands resent it." Of course, it may be hard to choose between the needs of your dishes and the feelings of your hands. But that's what warm soapsuds are made for!


Why be cool when you can be cooler? Pretty when you could be prettier? This is the central question of "Keep Cooler, Look Prettier." Actually, there is no central question. There is no questioning at all. But there are tips and food metaphors: "You dislike shiny skin, which reminds you of hot buttered toast: you work for a suede finish. On oily skin, you use cake powder of cake make-up; on dry skin, a creamy base plus a dulling film of powder." Like GH says, do not be tempted to eat your face for breakfast. Protect it with caked-on layers of product when the temperature rises above eighty. Or don't. It's 2015.

To access more issues of Good Housekeeping, try the following resources, and tell us what your favorite housekeeping tip is!


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