Chores | Complain | Family | Labor | Mother | Mothers | Technology | Trial | Work

Cooking, the kitchen’s major activity, was done in an open-hearth fireplace with crooks and arms or, more likely, on an iron stove. The early stove was an appliance of marked obduracy, a penal rockpile on which many a good country wife prematurely spent her beauty and strength. Kept burning the year round, it made one demand – dry wood – and delivered one temperature – very hot. Today’s petulant complaint, “slaving over a hot stove,” applies literally to the farmer’s wife of the Victorian Age who required a placid temperament to endure the rigors of running a country house. Laundry was the most physically punishing labor of the farm wife’s routine. She tackled it…

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