Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Woman's Work...

From "Feminine Ingenuity, Women and Invention in America" by Anne L. MacDonald, something to pair with the Life photo Bill Bryson alerted me to. It's a list of the necessities for a well-stocked laundry room, about 100 years ago. My mother had most of these:

Agate Pan or basin for starching
Bosom board
Clothes basket
Clothes boiler (tin with copper bottom)
Clothes horse
Clothes line
Clothes pins
Clothes pin bag
Clothes props
Clothes stick
Clothes wringer
Cup for measure
Duster for lines
Heavy cloth for tubs and boiler
Heavy irons
Heavy paper
Iron holders
Iron rest
Ironing table and board
Polishing iron
Saucepan for starch
Scrubbing brush
Set tubs, three or four, or machine
Skirt board
Small pieces of muslin and cheese cloth
Small pointed irons
Wash board
Water pail

(Not to mention starch, soap, blueing,etc.)

You look at the list, and think about the work each item implies, and the expertise. (Is there anyone out there who knows how to use a "skirt board" these days?) Permanent press has made a big difference to women, second only to processed foods. Remember that, in those days, every man unattached to a woman would have to have his clothes laundered.

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