Godey's Lady's BookGodey’s Lady’s Book was a United States magazine published in Philadelphia from 1830-1878.  At the height of its popularity in the 1860’s, Godey’s referred to itself as the “Queen of Monthlies”.

Marketed specifically to women, each issue contained poetry, articles, recipes, sheet music for the piano, dress patterns, illustrated fashion styles, and other engravings.  At $3 per year, a subscription to Godey’s was expensive.  Despite this, Godey’s was the most popular journal of its time.

The magazine is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women’s dress. Publisher Louis Godey boasted that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady’s Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000.

Although it was a “Lady’s Book”, it was not a particularly feminist publication. There were special issues that included only work done by women, and beginning in 1852 a regular “Employment for Women” section made its debut – but in general, Godey disliked political or controversial topics in his magazine and stayed away from any potential conflict.

So much so that when the Civil War split the nation in half, Godey explicitly forbade the magazine from taking any position on the issue of slavery and so the issues of Godey’s Lady Book published in the runup to the Civil War and even during the Civil war make absolutely no acknowledgement of the Civil War at all.

In 1845 Godey’s Lady Book became the first copyrighted publication in America. Louis Godey was widely criticized for this move, with other editors accusing him of taking a “narrowly selfish course”.

 

Earlier this year we promised to provide you with regular posts on primary resources for the Civil War in honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War.  But life happens, and we’ve had an awful lot of “life” happening here in the office lately, so we haven’t been very regular.  We’re hoping to get more regular with these posts again now, but we’re not going to promise this time! Maybe we can offer you a “we’ll try as hard as we can”?

For this post, we’re taking a look at the battle of Fort Sumter through the eyes of Mary Boykin Miller – to whom we owe a tremendous debt for providing us for such rich insight into the Civil War at a time when recording history-in-the-making for posterity was difficult to do.  Literary critics have called Chesnut’s diary “a work of art” and the most important work by a Confederate author.

Who was Mary Boykin Miller?

mary boykin miller, civil war, civil war 150th anniversary, civil war diaries, civil war primary resources, civil war sesquicentennial, fort sumter, mary chesnut, women's historyMary Boykin Miller was born March 31, 1823 in the High Hills of Santee, South Carolina.  At the age of 17 she married James Chesnut, a prominent lawyer and politician who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1858, and went on to serve the Confederacy as an aide to Jefferson Davis and as a brigadier general.  The Chesnuts moved in the very highest circles of Southern society.

Mary was a South Carolina author noted for a book published as her Civil War diary, a “vivid picture of a society in the throes of its life-and-death struggle.” She described the war from within her upper-class circles of Southern planter society, but encompassed all classes in her book.

Chesnut worked toward a final form of her book in 1881-1884, based on her extensive diary written during the war years. It was published after her death in 1905.  C. Vann Woodward  annotated edition of the diary, Mary Chesnut’s Civil War (1981), won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1982.

The following is an excerpt from Mary’s diary entries while she was at the First Battle at Fort Sumter from April 11th, 1861 to April 13th, 1861.

April 12th.  Anderson will not capitulate. Yesterday’s was the merriest, maddest dinner we have had yet. Men were audaciously wise and witty. We had an unspoken foreboding that it was to be our last pleasant meeting. Mr. Miles dined with us to-day. Mrs. Henry King rushed in saying, “The news, I come for the latest news. All the men of the King family are on the Island,” of which fact she seemed proud.

While she was here our peace negotiator, or envoy, came in – that is, Mr. Chesnut returned. His interview with Colonel Anderson had been deeply interesting, but Mr. Chesnut was not inclined to be communicative. He wanted his dinner. He felt for Anderson and had telegraphed to President Davis for instructions – what answer to give Anderson, etc. He has now gone back to Fort Sumter with additional instructions. When they were about to leave the wharf A. H. Boykin sprang into the boat in great excitement. He thought himself ill-used, with a likelihood of fighting and he to be left behind!

I do not pretend to go to sleep. How can I? If Anderson does not accept terms at four, the orders are, he shall be fired upon. I count four, St. Michael’s bells chime out and I begin to hope. At half-past four the heavy booming of a cannon. I sprang out of bed, and on my knees prostrate I prayed as I never prayed before.

There was a sound of stir all over the house, pattering of feet in the corridors. All seemed hurrying one way. I put on my double-gown and a shawl and went, too. It was to the housetop. The shells were bursting. In the dark I heard a man say, “Waste of ammunition.” I knew my husband was rowing about in a boat somewhere in that dark bay, and that the shells were roofing it over, bursting toward the fort. If Anderson was obstinate, Colonel Chesnut was to order the fort on one side to open fire. Certainly fire had begun. The regular roar of the cannon, there it was. And who could tell what each volley accomplished of death and destruction?

The women were wild there on the housetop. Prayers came from the women and imprecations from the men. And then a shell would light up the scene. To-night they say the forces are to attempt to land. We watched up there, and everybody wondered that Fort Sumter did not fire a shot.

To-day Miles and Manning, colonels now, aides to Beauregard, dined with us. The latter hoped I would keep the peace. I gave him only good words, for he was to be under fire all day and night, down in the bay carrying orders, etc.

Last night, or this morning truly, up on the housetop I was so weak and weary I sat down on something that looked like a black stool. “Get up, you foolish woman. Your dress is on fire,” cried a man. And he put me out. I was on a chimney and the sparks had caught my clothes. Susan Preston and Mr. Venable then came up. But my fire had been extinguished before it burst out into a regular blaze.

Do you know, after all that noise and our tears and prayers, nobody has been hurt; sound and fury signifying nothing – a delusion and a snare.

Louisa Hamilton came here now. This is a sort of news center. Jack Hamilton, her handsome young husband, has all the credit of a famous battery, which is made of railroad iron. Mr. Petigru calls it the boomerang, because it throws the balls back the way they came; so Lou Hamilton tells us. During her first marriage, she had no children; hence the value of this lately achieved baby. To divert Louisa from the glories of “the Battery,” of which she raves, we asked if the baby could talk yet. “No, not exactly, but he imitates the big gun when he hears that. He claps his hands and cries ‘Boom, boom.’ ” Her mind is distinctly occupied by three things: Lieutenant Hamilton, whom she calls “Randolph,” the baby, and the big gun, and it refuses to hold more.

Pryor, of Virginia, spoke from the piazza of the Charleston hotel. I asked what he said. An irreverent woman replied: “Oh, they all say the same thing, but he made great play with that long hair of his, which he is always tossing aside!”

Somebody came in just now and reported Colonel Chesnut asleep on the sofa in General Beauregard’s room. After two such nights he must be so tired as to be able to sleep anywhere.

Just bade farewell to Langdon Cheves. He is forced to go home and leave this interesting place. Says he feels like the man that was not killed at Thermopylae. I think he said that unfortunate had to hang himself when he got home for very shame. Maybe he fell on his sword, which was the strictly classic way of ending matters.

I do not wonder at Louisa Hamilton’s baby; we hear nothing, can listen to nothing; boom, boom goes the cannon all the time. The nervous strain is awful, alone in this darkened room. “Richmond and Washington ablaze,” say the papers – blazing with excitement. Why not? To us these last days’ events seem frightfully great. We were all women on that iron balcony. Men are only seen at a distance now. Stark Means, marching under the piazza at the head of his regiment, held his cap in his hand all the time he was in sight. Mrs. Means was leaning over and looking with tearful eyes, when an unknown creature asked, “Why did he take his hat off?” Mrs. Means stood straight up and said: “He did that in honor of his mother; he saw me.” She is a proud mother, and at the same time most unhappy. Her lovely daughter Emma is dying in there, before her eyes, of consumption. At that moment I am sure Mrs. Means had a spasm of the heart; at least, she looked as I feel sometimes. She took my arm and we came in.

April 13th.  Nobody has been hurt after all. How gay we were last night. Reaction after the dread of all the slaughter we thought those dreadful cannon were making. Not even a battery the worse for wear. Fort Sumter has been on fire. Anderson has not yet silenced any of our guns. So the aides, still with swords and red sashes by way of uniform, tell us. But the sound of those guns makes regular meals impossible. None of us go to table. Tea-trays pervade the corridors going everywhere. Some of the anxious hearts lie on their beds and moan in solitary misery. Mrs. Wigfall and I solace ourselves with tea in my room. These women have all a satisfying faith. “God is on our side,” they say. When we are shut in Mrs. Wigfall and I ask “Why?” “Of course, He hates the Yankees, we are told. You’ll think that well of Him.”

Not by one word or look can we detect any change in the demeanor of these negro servants. Lawrence sits at our door, sleepy and respectful, and profoundly indifferent. So are they all, but they carry it too far. You could not tell that they even heard the awful roar going on in the bay, though it has been dinning in their ears night and day. People talk before them as if they were chairs and tables. They make no sign. Are they stolidly stupid? or wiser than we are; silent and strong, biding their time?

So tea and toast came; also came Colonel Manning, red sash and sword, to announce that he had been under fire, and didn’t mind it. He said gaily: “It is one of those things a fellow never knows how he will come out until he has been tried. Now I know I am a worthy descendant of my old Irish hero of an ancestor, who held the British officer before him as a shield in the Revolution, and backed out of danger gracefully.” We talked of St. Valentine’s eve, or the maid of Perth, and the drop of the white doe’s blood that sometimes spoiled all.

The war-steamers are still there, outside the bar. And there are people who thought the Charleston bar “no good” to Charleston. The bar is the silent partner, or sleeping partner, and in this fray it is doing us yeoman service.

April 15th.  I did not know that one could live such days of excitement. Some one called: “Come out! There is a crowd coming.” A mob it was, indeed, but it was headed by Colonels Chesnut and Manning. The crowd was shouting and showing these two as messengers of good news. They were escorted to Beauregard’s headquarters. Fort Sumter had surrendered! Those upon the housetops shouted to us “The fort is on fire.” That had been the story once or twice before.

When we had calmed down, Colonel Chesnut, who had taken it all quietly enough, if anything more unruffled than usual in his serenity, told us how the surrender came about. Wigfall was with them on Morris Island when they saw the fire in the fort; he jumped in a little boat, and with his handkerchief as a white flag, rowed over. Wigfall went in through a porthole. When Colonel Chesnut arrived shortly after, and was received at the regular entrance, Colonel Anderson told him he had need to pick his way warily, for the place was all mined. As far as I can make out the fort surrendered to Wigfall. But it is all confusion. Our flag is flying there. Fire-engines have been sent for to put out the fire. Everybody tells you half of something and then rushes off to tell something else or to hear the last news.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Preston, Mrs. Joe Heyward, and I drove around the Battery. We were in an open carriage.

What a changed scene – the very liveliest crowd I think I ever saw, everybody talking at once. All glasses were still turned on the grim old fort.

Russell,the correspondent of the London Times, was there. They took him everywhere. One man got out Thackeray to converse with him on equal terms. Poor Russell was awfully bored, they say. He only wanted to see the fort and to get news suitable to make up into an interesting article. Thackeray had become stale over the water.

Mrs. Frank Hampton and I went to see the camp of the Richland troops. South Carolina College had volunteered to a boy. Professor Venable (the mathematical), intends to raise a company from among them for the war, a permanent company. This is a grand frolic no more for the students, at least. Even the staid and severe of aspect, Clingman, is here. He says Virginia and North Carolina are arming to come to our rescue, for now the North will swoop down on us. Of that we may be sure. We have burned our ships. We are obliged to go on now. He calls us a poor, little, hot-blooded, headlong, rash, and troublesome sister State. General McQueen is in a rage because we are to send troops to Virginia.

Preston Hampton is in all the flush of his youth and beauty, six feet in stature; and after all only in his teens; he appeared in fine clothes and lemon-colored kid gloves to grace the scene. The camp in a fit of horse-play seized him and rubbed him in the mud. He fought manfully, but took it all naturally as a good joke.

Mrs. Frank Hampton knows already what civil war means. Her brother was in the New York Seventh Regiment, so roughly received in Baltimore. Frank will be in the opposite camp.

Good stories there may be and to spare for Russell, the man of the London Times, who has come over here to find out our weakness and our strength and to tell all the rest of the world about us.

150 years ago, the young America was on the tail end of decades of political strife that would result in the utter turmoil of a Civil War.  In honor of this Sesquicentennial (the term for a 150 year anniversary for those who would have to look it up like I did), we’ll post articles throughout the year pertaining to the Civil War.

This first article is something of a difficult read.  It’s the account of Lydia Catherine Ziegler, who was 13-years-old at the time of the Battle and living at the Schmucker Hall building we recently performed restoration work on – then known as the Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Lydia Catherine (Ziegler) Clare

Lutheran Theological

Lydia Catherine Ziegler (May 5, 1850 – April 11, 1915) was born in Gettysburg, PA, and died in Abbottstown, PA.  She married Rev. Richard H. Clare on July 4, 1872. She was the daughter of Emanuel Ziegler (1824-1893), the steward of the edifice of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1863.

A GETTYSBURG GIRL’S STORY OF THE GREAT BATTLE
(Written about the year 1900)

My children have long been urging me to give them in a short story my experience in the Battle of Gettysburg. I was then a girl of thirteen, living on the Seminary Ridge which today is known to every child who studies the history of the Civil War.

I shall never forget the June afternoon when I stood on the Seminary steps with my parents and other persons to see a Confederate host marching in the Chambersburg Pike. It seemed as if Pandemonium had broken loose. A more ragged and unkempt set of men would be hard to find. Many wore parts of Union soldiers’ suits which, I suppose, had been picked up on the field of battle, or had been discarded by our men. A squad from the main body was sent over to the Seminary to find out whether any Yankee soldiers were concealed there. After the investigators were informed that the building was a theological school edifice, a guard, was placed around it, and we felt perfectly safe. I do not think any property was destroyed at that time, excepting a few cars containing government supplies, which were burned and also the railroad bridge, a short distance from the town. Early the following morning our unwelcome guests took their departure for the purpose, they said, of capturing Baltimore and Washington. Shortly after the enemy left our place, we were made glad by seeing regiment after regiment of our own men come and encamp around us. We gave them a royal welcome.

meade's headquarters, gettysburg

Meade’s Headquarters, Gettysburg, PA

The spring and summer of ’63 were days in which the citizens of our quiet village were much disturbed, for scarcely two consecutive weeks would pass without rumors reaching us that the enemy has crossed the Potomac and were headed in our direction. Anxiety filled every breast. Farmers would flee with their horses to a place of safety and merchants would either ship their valuable goods away or securely hide them. So day followed day, each seeming to bring fresh trouble. The enemy were close at hand.

How well do I remember the happiness it gave me to hand out the cakes and pies that our kind mother made until late at night for those boys in blue who seemed almost famished for a taste of “home victuals” as they called them. And, vividly too, do I remember that night of the 30th of June when I stood in the Seminary cupola and saw, as  in panoramic view, the camp fires of the enemy all along the Blue Mountainside, only eight miles distant, while below us we beheld our little town entirely surrounded by thousands of camp fires of the Union Army. As we stood on that height and watched the soldiers on the eve of battle, our hearts were made heavy. Many of the soldiers were engaged in letter writing, perhaps writing the last loving missives their hands would ever pen to dear ones at home. In the near distance we could see a large circle of men engage in prayer, and as the breezes came our way, we could hear the petitions which ascended to the Father in heaven for his protecting care on the morrow. However, many of the boys seemed to be utterly oblivious to the dangers threatening them, and were singing with hearty good will “The Star Spangled Banner” and many of the other patriotic songs which we loved to hear.

A Common Soldier

A Common Soldier

July the 1st dawned brightly. The sun shone in all its splendor over the wheat fields which were of a golden hue and ready for the harvest. All nature seems to be offering praise to God for His manifold blessings. The members of our household were all up bright and early, for much was to be done for the comfort of the soldiers. But a spirit of unrest seemed to prevail everywhere. About eight o’clock an ominous sound was heard – a sound that struck terror to the hearts of all who heard it – it was the call to battle.  All was excitement; company after company, regiment after regiment, fell into line, and, accompanied by music, the march began towards the front.  As we stood in the doorway watching General Reynolds and his force approach, I asked father how the soldiers would cross the high fence surrounding our garden. I did not have long to wait until my curiosity was satisfied, for the General came at rapid pace, urging his men to follow, and the fence fell as if it were made of paper as the men pressed against it with crowbars and picks.

That and a call from a signal officer on the cupola sent me speeding to the house. There I found that all the family had repaired to the cellar for safety and well they did, for in a very short time two shells struck the building. After General Reynolds was killed and our army was being driven back towards the town which is a half-mile distant, father decided that we had better stay in line with our own soldiers, so we left the building and took up our march.  My mother and the older members of the family hurriedly snatched up a couple of loaves of bread as we left the house, and It was well they did, for we had ample need of it before the day ended.    I always had a desire to see something of a battle, so here was my opportunity.  I quietly slipped from the house to the edge of the woods back of the Seminary, and was enjoying the awe-inspiring scene, when a bullet flew so near my head that I could hear the whizzing sound it made.

Our march into town was heart-sickening. Soldiers had fallen on all sides, and were wounded in every imaginable way. It seems that I can almost hear at this late day the groans and cries of the suffering men as they lay at our foot. War is, indeed. a terrible thing!  We did not remain in the town very long for we felt that the woods would be safer. The first place we got to was Culp’s Hill, but our stay there was of short duration, for the shells and bullets drove us out.  Next we went to Spangler’s Spring with no better result. Then we stopped on Wolf’s Hill. A heavy rain had come on, lasting about an hour; we were drenched to the skin, and Oh! so very tired and hungry. Mother divided the bread among us, and we children gathered wild raspberries to eat with it; and. even now, although we are all men and women, I think each one will say that that was the most palatable meal we ever ate.

We, however, found that we had not yet reached our haven of rest, for even here the shells and bullets began to fall, so our wandering began again.  Our poor, faithful old dog Sport could no longer walk, so we children took turns in carrying him, and the poor old fellow would lick our hands to show his gratitude.

About four o’clock in the afternoon we found our way out to the Baltimore Pike, near Two Taverns.  There we met General Slocum’s Corps advancing towards Gettysburg on double quick. The poor soldiers looked so jaded and tired.  Many of them had been compelled to fall out of line and we came upon them lying by the roadside, sick and hungry. The poor fellows had been marching all day without anything to eat. Such, however, is soldier’s life.

The shades of night had fallen ere we reached the home of a friend who kindly gave us shelter during the time of battle, another friend took us as far as Round Top in a wagon on our homeward journey.  From that place the distance to the town is about three miles, and we decided to walk, for the ground was thickly strewn with unexploded shells which were likely to burst if struck.  As we were starting for home, this dear friend gave us a bag containing six large loaves of bread, saying that we might find use for it, when we reached home.

Confederate Dead at Gettysburg

Confederate Dead at Gettysburg

We did not have to carry this bread very far after we left the wagon, for we found lying on the field lots of wounded men who had not had a bite to eat for three days, and they would beg us “for God’s sake” to give them some of the bread and some water to drink.  I can picture to my mind even to this day my father and mother as they stood by these wounded men, father with his pocket knife cutting off pieces of the bread which my mother would have to put into the mouths of some who were too weak even to lift the bread to their lips, or take the water which we children carried from the little streams or springs nearby in cups made by fastening leaves together.  Pen cannot describe the awful sights which met our gaze on that day.

I wish to make a correction to my statement that all was lost.  We owned two beautiful white cows which still were alive when we returned to our home.  These cows had been in the thickest of the fight for three days, yet were not hurt in any way.  I suppose it is not necessary for me to tell you that they did not suffer from want of being milked during that time – the soldiers saw to it that that task was performed.  We found the feet of out four fat hogs lying in the pen.  The dying and the dead were all around us – men and beasts.  We could count as high as twenty dead horses lying side by side.  Imagine, if you can, the stench of one dead animal lying in the hot July sun for days.  Here they were by the hundreds.  All day long we ministered to the wants of the suffering, and it was night when we reached home, or what had been home, only to find the house filled with wounded soldiers.  Oh, what a home-coming!  Everything we owned was gone – not a bed to lie on, and not a change of clothing.  Many things had been destroyed, and the rest had been converted to hospital purposes.  And I am sorry to say right here that, while our government has plenty of money to dispose of, we who suffered such great loss at Gettysburg have never received one cent.  Is there justice in this treatment?  I would like to ask those in authority.

I do not wish to dwell on this subject too long, so will say that we tried to forget self and our losses in our care of the suffering who needed our help.  It was a ghastly sight to see some of the men lying in pools of blood on the bare floor where they had been placed on the first and second days of the fight, many of them having received no care what ever.  Nurses and doctors were in demand everywhere, so were hospital supplies.  Transportation had been cut by the destruction of railroads and the burning of bridges.  Many a poor fellow died within the first ten days after the battle for want of care and nourishing food.  After the trains could run again, supplies came, and everything was carried on in a systematic manner.

The Suffering After the Battle

The Suffering After the Battle

But we could not think of sleep or rest during those trying days.  Nights and days were alike spent in trying to alleviate the suffering of the wounded and dying.  How often did I receive the dying message of a father or husband to send his loved ones whom he would never meet again on earth!  I shall ever hold in sweet memory the repeatedly uttered “God bless you, my girl!” from the poor fellows after some little act of kindness had been shown them.  So many pathetic scenes took place during those days.  I remember going into the yard, late in the afternoon, about a week after the battle, and finding there an old man supporting the head of a sweet faced old lady on his shoulder.  I walked up to this couple and asked if I could be of any assistance, for I saw the old lady looked faint and weary.

After listening to the pitiful story told us of losing four sons in the war, and knowing their last son had been in the battle of Gettysburg, and walking all of the twenty-one miles over the mountains from Chambersburg, since there was no other mode of travel for them, and carrying all this distance a satchel filled with dainties such as Charlie was fond of, we attempted to help them.  And their son Charlie was found lying in one of the rooms of the third floor of the Seminary building in a dying condition.  The cries of that mother as she bent over the body of her boy were heartbreaking.  For a short time consciousness returned to Charlie, and he knew his parents, who shortly after had at least some measure of comfort in taking his dead body home for burial.   The answer came from the trembling lips of the old gentleman: “Mother’s most tuckered out, but if we can find our boy Charlie, I guess she will be all right.”

I should like to tell you more about my varied experiences during the three months our home was used as a hospital, but my story has already become too lengthy.

NOTE

At the time of the great Battle of Gettysburg, Emanuel Ziegler, the father of Lydia Catherine, was steward of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Seminary Ridge, where he and his wife and their six children had quarters on the first floor.  Lydia Catherine, the youngest of the family, had four brothers – Jacob, John, William and Hugh, and one sister Anna.

On July 4th 1872, she was married in the Seminary Chapel to the Rev. Richard H. Clare, who had in the Spring of that year graduated from that institution, and who later, with her loving and ever-faithful co-operation, served parishes in Blain, PA, Bridgeton, New Jersey, Chambersburg, Pa., Hamilton Scotia, Pa., and Abbottstown, Pa.  Pastor Clare died on February the 14th, 1908, and Lydia Catherine on April the 11th, 1915.  They were survived by five children – the Rev. Henry E. Clare, Miss Mary R. Clare, the Rev. Robert D. Clare, the Rev. Martin L. Clare and Dr. Milo R. Clare, D.D., Stonehurst Court, C-220, Upper Darby, Pa.

 

Kitchens are more than just a place to cook our food.  They are usually one of the main family living areas where we gather, commune, play, break bread with family and friends, and sometimes even work with laptop and files plopped on the table so we are sure to stay abreast of all the family’s happenings.

But they weren’t always this way.  In fact, in the late 1700’s and throughout the 1800’s – kitchens were more or less viewed as necessary evils to be tolerated and tucked away as unseen, unfelt, unheard, and unknown as possible.

In the very earliest Colonial America houses, this was accomplished by building kitchens in the basement of homes to keep the hardworking class that worked in the kitchen, as well as all of a kitchen’s rubbish, odors, soot, and smoke as far from the dining and living areas as possible.

Somewhere in the beginning of the 1700’s, kitchens began to be removed from the home and housed in small buildings located a short distance from the main house – something we usually refer to as a “summer kitchen”.  We’ve heard these kitchens were built to save the main house from the extra heat of a kitchen during the hot summer months.

This was, no doubt, a consideration, and probably the primary one for most households.  But as it turns out, it’s not the only one, and probably not the primary one for more well-off households.  This new kitchen architecture in wealthier households seems to have had more to do with race, gender, and social space than it did with the practical considerations of meal preparations for those in the middle to upper classes, as it reflected the growing custom of separating guests and family from slaves and cooks.

While energy efficiency was a dominant concern for one demographic in early America, and a strong sense of social order and place for another demographic, both demographics had one major reason for keeping kitchen spaces tucked away by the late 1700’s.  In the 19th Century, the “Miasmatic Theory” was the dominant disease theory and promoted the belief that offensive odors of decaying materials transmitted diseases, and by the mid-1800’s experts were campaigning to eliminate the causes of foul smells from housing in order to improve public health.

But keeping a house cooler in the summer, keeping the help away from the family and guests, and keeping sickness at bay by not exposing the house to offensive odors weren’t the only things that helped shape the history of our kitchen architecture.   The changing roles of women too.

Women played the role of providers of preventative medicine in their role as housewives, and the new focus on public health and disease prevention propelled women into a new role: domestic scientist.  Early feminist leaders advocated the use of a scientific approach to home management, cookery, and kitchen maintenance – especially as it related to maintaining good health.  The kitchen became viewed as a workshop to be designed and maintained for optimal work quality instead of the utilitarian “evil necessity” they had been as the housewife found that she had a higher calling in the battle against disease.

This new “professional housewife” had a new role, and needed a new kitchen environment to match.  Kitchens were pulled back into the home and placed squarely into the center of family function, as housewives tackled kitchen tasks in this new professional and scientific manner.

And so the modern kitchen was born, as by the turn of the 20th Century the loss of domestic help and advances in time management and public sanitation techniques shaped a new kitchen architecture for America.

One of the more intriguing interpretative strategies we read about during our research into expanding historic preservation to include women’s history was the use of heritage trails.  By now, we are all familiar with heritage trails – those walking and driving journeys around to different historic sites that historical commissions, museums, public agency, community organizations, and even private individuals put together to motivate us put on our shoes, grab our keys, and plan a trip to explore history.  
And motivate us it does, who doesn’t read about a particular heritage trail and decide they *don’t* want to make that particular journey?
Which is why a historic preservation master’s thesis we stumbled across piqued our interest with its title, “Commemoration and Protest: The Use of Heritage Trails to Connect Women’s History with Historic Sites” submitted to the University of Pennsylvania by Marissa J. Moshier.
We’re not going to bore you with a full-blown rehash and review of the excellent information Moshier conveyed in her thesis, mostly because you can read it for yourself right here, but also because we’d really rather make a better use of this space (and your time) to discuss this topic.

You see, for all the information Moshier presented (and believe us, you should read it, because it was a ton), it was what was missing from that information that stood out the most to us.  For all those wise, wise words, for all her obviously extensive research, for all the astute observations and connections she made, for all the motivation her writing inspired, for all her details on the women’s heritage trails in states and cities across the country, there was one thing Moshier failed to include in her information: any mention of a woman’s history heritage trail in Pennsylvania.

Because there isn’t one.

So what we would LOVE to discuss is how a heritage trail could be developed, promoted, and used by the public to connect women’s history to the rich network of historic sites we have here.

Here are our beginning questions, let’s open up the discussion.  Feel free to give us your thoughts in response to these questions, or respond with more questions you might have.

           Who would develop this heritage trail?             

                                            How would they develop it?   

   Would it be contained to publicly operated sites?  

             Could it blend both publicly and privately operated sites?  

     What were the important contributions women made in 
     Pennsylvania’s history?  

                                What were the roles they played 
throughout our history?  

              How are those contributions and roles already 
              represented in our history sites?  

  How can we connect those sites with a heritage trail?  

                       Which sites would we use?  

            Which sites specifically include women’s history already?  
    Are they the best ones to use to tell women’s stories in 
   Pennsylvania history?  
Do we need to develop new ones?