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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

From 1911, Tips for Keeping your Tenement Tidy

Mabel Hyde Kittredge, activist and founder of the hot lunch program for public schools in New York, was the Martha Stewart of tenement living. She championed the cause of domestic science for the disadvantaged at her "housekeeping centers"—model apartments where young girls from the crowded tenements could, by observing and doing, learn all the particulars of home management.  Her 1911 book, How to Furnish and Keep House in a Tenement Flat, was organized as a series of lessons to be used at the housekeeping centers in New York or in other cities which had started to establish centers of their own. The young girls who took the courses were meant to see the model apartments as "an illustration of the sanitation and beauty which lie within reach of the laborer's income." But in order to achieve that sanitation and beauty, there was an awful lot of work to be done.  Here is what the child had to master in order to complete the first course:
The holder of this card has
Made a fire.
Washed dishes.
Washed dish towels.
Cleaned sink.
Prepared soda and cleansed pipes.
Scrubbed floor.
Scrubbed table or tubs.
Cleaned kitchen.
Washed and aired food tins.
Washed windows.
Made bed.
Fought bedbugs.
Cleaned toilet.
Dusted bedroom.
Cleaned drawers.
Scrubbed woodwork.
Dusted down walls.
Boiled out cleaning cloths.
Then they could move on to the card for the second course.

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