The American Woman’s Home would have been published for 3 years when we meet Laura in the Big Woods. The dedication is made out “To the women of America, in whose hands rest the real destinies of the Republic”.
Who would have thought that Harriet Beecher Stowe was the original Martha Stewart? Not two people I would have sat next to each other at a dinner party. Harriet wrote 30 books in her lifetime: novels, travel memories and collections of articles. One particular book should stand out to most Americans who passed middle school history class. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet just became a cautionary tale for my own research. History is not one dimensional. We should examine every historical perspective when looking at the Little House series. While Laura’s lens has a narrow focus we now have the scholarly benefit to see the what surrounded her experience. The books, laws, fashion, religions, technology that shaped her.
The American Woman’s Home was a practical and aesthetic guide for women. A book that guided kitchen design (i.e. built in cabinets, prep areas) but also included medical recipes, gardening, plants, health food. An ultimate guide for any woman beginning a household. Would Caroline have had access to this book through family or neighbors, directly or indirectly? How much housework/food preparation Laura saw in the Big Woods was from Grandma Quiner influence? How did those skills evolve as they began their trek to Indian Territory and finally DeSmet?
I’ve included a link to the book in the archive.org online library.