Keeping house in the 1930s

Instructions from the 1933 "New Standard Cookery Book" from the chapter: Household Management:

No matter who keeps house, the following rules should be ENFORCE, or the home will not be well run:

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  2. A right time for everything and see that it is done at the right time.
  3. Meals should be punctually served, and everyone should be ready to ear either when the meal is served o when the gong is sounded.
  4. Early to bed and early to rise, for one hour in the morning is worth two at night.
  5. Orders should be given to servants at a fixed time every day.
Moving on 80 years and I still say the first one to my own children as my mother did to me. - everything in our house has a "home".    I can't help but agree to  point 4, when rising early so much can be done and by midday I am often surprised about the amount of chores I have completed.  However on the dinners being punctually served - no, they come when they are ready (unlike my mother). No servants, however my sons sometimes thing they are the servants.

Here are some ways of saving time in the home, 1930's:
  • Own a vacuum cleaner (couldn't agree more)
  • Have a constant supply of hot water (how did women manage without this)
  • Rustless knives - saves on cleaning
  • Fireproof glass and china - as it lessens the washing up 
  • A machine which slices fruit (for marmalade), quicker than chopping by hand
  • Pressure cooker for those meals needed in a moments notice (the 1930s version of the microwave)
"Every season sees the introduction of some new labour saver (nothing has changed has it).  Most of them are good, such as the service wagon ... which is invaluable for carrying plates, dishes and food from the kitchen to dinning room, but you should study every labour saver very carefully before introducing it in to your home.  For some labour savers are more trouble to keep clean than they are worth".
How true is that still.  I have bought things that turn out to be useless or more work than they are worth and take up precious space in my kitchen cupboards. And don't we still hunt for things to save us time, (I do from time to time) rather than taking more time and slowing down.  The world is in such a rush, perhaps our homes should be a sanctuary where it is quiet and calm and not in a hurry.   Many of these new "gadgets" also reduce our cooking skills, so how many young women know how to cook without the microwave?


  1. Love it~
    At least your boys don't think YOU are the servant!
    There is no doubt that organization is the key to keeping things running smooth. I haven't mastered it, but I know it is so.
    I do so admire our mothers and grandmothers doing their chores without all the conveniences we have.
    Have a great weekend. Cold in your part of the country, no doubt.

  2. Wonderful post! A lot of those things still ring true today. I wholeheartedly embrace the first point, too: everything in its place!

    And yes, all the time-saving, labor-saving gadgets often aren't, and why do we have to be in such a hurry anyway? This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Which is part of the reason we don't have a microwave or a TV!

    When did it become "unfashionable" for women (especially young ones) to learn how to take GOOD care of their homes? A sanctuary truly is what we are making.

  3. Because we move every few years (or less!!), we have kept only those things that are proven useful... especially as far as kitchen gear goes.

    I often see little electric gadgets for making waffles, omelettes, milkshakes etc and the list goes on, and on, and on. I used to be tempted a long time ago, but realised after the first purchase of such a 'novel' thing, that these items usually just take up space and are more bother to clean than anything else.

    I do like my convection microwave oven though... a cheapie from The Warehouse, that has worked better than any normal oven we have ever used. It was one of those 'great buys'!

  4. These are great, Jo - I agree with a lot of them... Although we never serve meals at a specific time, and don't have a "place" for everything in our home seeing as we have little storage space (so typical for smaller rental homes)... I wish I had servants to give orders to!! If I did, I might even manage to give the orders at a fixed time every day!!!! :)
    I agree regarding the mornings - SO much more can be done in the morning, it really is a satisfying time of day for crossing things off a list of 'things to do'...
    I don't have a pressure cooker or a microwave (I haven't had a microwave for 7 years now, and I love NOT having one!!), but I do like the ease of using a slow-cooker from time to time. I don't like to buy every gadget I see, in fact I really have few gadgets, and most of the ones we do have were given as wedding presents (and are largely unused or at least very rarely used).
    VERY interesting post! :)

  5. Great post Jo. I love the idea of slowing down and taking the time to do things. I agree, how can young gals learn true skills when we have devices that "do it all".


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