Lydia Maria Child.
The Family Nurse; or Companion of the Frugal Housewife.
Boston: Charles J. Hendee, 1837.
Mrs. Child, a novelist, abolitionist, and best-selling cookbook author,
wrote this practical book of hints and remedies based on her reading
of major medical books. The Family Nurse is written in a plain,
straightforward manner. In her preface, Child explains: This volume
is very obviously not intended for the drawing-room. If written in language
plain enough to be understood, it could not in the very nature of the
subject, be otherwise than indelicate, in the world's estimation… As
the world becomes wiser and better, I trust the various functions of
the human body will be spoken of with more philosophical purity, and
regarded merely as temporary mediums for the growth of the soul.
||O. S. Fowler, 1809-1887.
Fowler on Matrimony, or, Phrenology and Physiology Applied to
the Selection of Companions for Life: Including Directions to the
Married for Living Together Affectionately and Happily. New
York: O. S. & L. N. Fowler, 1842.
O. S. Fowler and his younger brother, Lorenzo Niles Fowler, were the
leading proponents of practical phrenology in the United States in the
mid-nineteenth century. Phrenology is the study of the shape of the
skull to determine mental development and attributes of character. Although
Fowler based his discussion of selection of a mate on phrenology, his
findings were the traditional ones-don't marry for money, make sure
your fiancé is healthy, live in harmony with each other.
Dr. A. M. Mauriceau.
The Married Woman's Private Medical Companion, Embracing the Treatment
of Menstruation ... Pregnancy ... Discovery to Prevent Pregnancy ... to
Prevent Miscarriage or Abortion ... New York: 1847.
Mauriceau was thought to be a pseudonym for Madame Restell, a notorious
abortionist in New York. This widely-distributed book was essentially
an advertisement for her services, as well as for "Morand's Elixir"
and other contraceptive devices sold through the mail. Restell, who
was not a physician, advertised her services openly in the newspapers.
The Midwife's Guide: Being the Complete Works of Aristotle.
New York: Published for the Trade, 1849.
This mid-nineteenth century midwives' guide, supposedly by Aristotle,
was actually written in England in the seventeenth century. The
Midwife's Guide became available in America in the mid-eighteenth
century and was reprinted many times during the next hundred years.
The book was not scientifically accurate, but was full of superstition
Mary R. Melendy.
Perfect Womanhood for Maidens-Wives-Mothers. Chicago: Monarch
Book Company, 1901.
Perfect Womanhood combines health information for women and children
with religiously inspired sentiments on women's role as wife and
mother. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union and its crusade
against alcohol are an important aspect of Melendy's approach
to healthy living.
Elizabeth Blackwell, 1821-1910.
The Laws of Life with Special Reference to the Physical Education
of Girls. New-York: G. P. Putnam, 1852.
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from medical
school in the United States. Because no hospital would allow her
to practice, she began to see women and children in her home.
As she developed her practice, she also wrote lectures on health,
which she published in 1852 as The Laws of Life.
Mary Wood-Allen, M.D., 1841-1908.
What a Young Woman Ought to Know. Philadelphia: Vir Publishing
Dr. Wood-Allen was the World Superintendent of the Purity Department,
Women's Christian Temperance Union. What a Young Woman Ought to Know
is one of a series entitled "Self and Sex." The text deals with the
care of the body, building brains, menstruation, female diseases, friendships,
marriage, and the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and immoral behavior.
In the front of the book are testimonials from leaders in education,
social services, and medicine, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Mary Wood-Allen, M.D., 1841-1908.
What a Young Girl Ought to Know. Philadelphia: Vir Publishing Co.,
These "Twilight Talks" explain the facts of life to a young girl entering
puberty. In addition to bodily functions, there are suggestions for
behavior, education, and friendships. The discussion of sex includes
the birds and the bees, but does not include any illustrations or discussion
Margaret H. Sanger, 1879-1966.
What Every Mother Should Know, Or How Six Little Children Were
Taught the Truth. New York: Max N. Maisel, 1916.
Founder of the American birth control movement, Margaret Sanger
fought for the revision of archaic legislation that prohibited
publication of facts about contraception. In her early career,
Sanger practiced nursing among the impoverished families of New
York and became aware of the interrelationships between overpopulation,
high infant and maternal mortality rates, and poverty.What
Every Mother Should Know was first published as a series of
articles in the radical journal The New York Call in 1911.
The preface to the book explains, "The idea is that the child
be taught the process of reproduction and absorb such knowledge
without realizing he has received any "sex" instruction."
Home Nursing. Little Blue Book No. 137. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius
Co., circa 1923.
Home Nursing was one of the two thousand titles in the Little
Blue Book series of reference and literary works published by Emmanuel
Haldeman-Julius, a socialist and reformer. The books sold for a nickel
and contained brief but accurate information on a wide variety of topics.
Aspects of Birth Control. Little Blue Book No. 209. Girard,
Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Co., circa 1923.
Dr. Adolpus Knopf, a prestigious physician from the New York
Academy of Medicine, was sympathetic to the birth control movement
and believed that medical institutions should help in the investigation
and practice of contraception. He was among the first in the medical
field to express interest in the work of Margaret Sanger.
Maude (Richman) Calvert, 1892-
Everyday Living for Boys and Girls. Atlanta: Turner E.
Everyday Living urges mothers to instill good habits in their
children at an early age. The book covers correct eating and health
practices, good manners and everyday thrift. It warns mothers
that these habits are easily formed in childhood, but hard to
correct in later life. Calvert was the State Supervisor of Home
Economics for the state of Oklahoma.
Benjamin Spock, 1903-1998.
Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. 7th edition. NY: Pocket Books,
Since it was first published in 1946, Baby and Child Care has
become the standard guide for raising children for generations of American
parents. It has been translated into thirty-nine languages and sold
more than fifty million copies, making it second in sales only to the
A Course of Calisthenics for Young Ladies
H. and F. J. Huntington, 1831.
Written as a series of letters to a friend, the book stresses
the importance of physical exercise for young women. Students
can be injured during their education by the uncomfortable chairs,
excessive amounts of homework, and the fashion of tightly-laced
clothing. A series of very gentle games and exercises are suggested
to alleviate these problems. The author rejects "the idea
that it is unlady-like to be active and healthy. The etiquette
of society is opposed to every thing like natural emotion. In
fitting girls to appear well in this society whose watch-word
is 'gentility,' they often become dull and stupid; mere automata."
Mademoiselle St. Sernin.
Healthful Sports for Young Ladies. London: Printed for
R. Ackermann by W. Clowes, 1822.
The author, Mlle St. Sernin, remains elusive, beyond the fact
that she was a French governess. The beautiful illustrations are
by Jean Demosthene Dugourc (1749-1825). The "sports" illustrated
included tossing a ball and riding on a see saw.
Anna M. Galbraith.
Hygiene and Physical Culture for Women. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1895.
Galbraith was a physician who trained at the Woman's Medical College
of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and was an Attending Physician at the
New York Orthopedic Hospital. She wrote several books on the mental
and physical development of women and stressed the importance of education
and exercise for well being.
Dodd, Mead Publisher's File Copy Collection.
Marie E. Ward.
Bicycling for Ladies. New York; Paris: Brentano's, 1896.
The bicycle was a symbol of liberation for women at the end of
the nineteenth century. It allowed for movement into new spaces,
literally and figuratively. The woman of the nineteenth century
who had been given little opportunity to cultivate or express
her autonomy now had a vehicle with which one could not only develop
autonomous power, but do so while leaving behind the old reliance
upon men for travel. As Marie Ward clearly states, "Riding
the wheel, our powers are revealed to us..."
for reference assistance
email Special Collections
University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267