OUR OWN SNUG FIRESIDE by Jane C. Nylander

OUR OWN SNUG FIRESIDE

Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A fact-filled, copiously illustrated, revealing survey of Yankee life and households in an earlier time, complied by Boston- based curator Nylander (Director/Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Drawing on an array of original documents and records-- especially on a handful of diaries written by New England women of the period--Nylander offers a substantive view of household life during a time that saw the nation established and its northern regions industrialized. The images the author presents are often those in which female activities or concerns predominate, although the male presence in the home is by no means given short shrift. The family ``unit'' in pre-Civil War America, Nylander explains, included nonnuclear members as well as boarders, hired help, and, frequently, young married couples preparing to create a household of their own--with daily routines consisting not only of meal preparation and house cleaning but also of spinning, sewing, and preparing for a variety of future events, from marriage to parties and other social gatherings. Changes in technology prompted immense shifts in these routines, with, for instance, iron stoves replacing the massive kitchen fireplaces and commercial weaving offering greater variety than the homemade product. But while the agricultural or village aspects of New England living generally dominate this account, the emphasis clearly is on more well-to-do families rather than their more numerous, poorer--and less literate--neighbors. Not comprehensive, then, and at times overly reliant on diary excerpts--but informative, and valuable for its many glimpses of American interiors. (Illustrations--162--throughout)

Pub Date: April 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-54984-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993