This volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection was published in Boston in 1844, and it is a classic example of early American regional cooking, with a traditional Yankee emphasis on thrift in the home.
Mrs. Howland’s New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book is a regional cookbook with strong emphasis on thrift and self-reliance in the home, common themes in early American cookbooks that also reflected her New England heritage. Over 220 classic New England recipes, simple and well written compared with many contemporary cookbooks, are included. It's interesting to note that fifty of the recipes are for puddings. The “Medicinal Department” section offers cures and common remedies for ailments from cancer and consumption to corns and chapped hands, and “Miscellaneous Receipts” discusses household tips (how to make soap, prevent the gate from creaking, keep red ants from the cupboard) and morality (“Two rules of Jefferson are very applicable to the times—‘Never spend your money before you get it;’ and ‘Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.’”) The book also contains an early technique for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR, and well as other advice for household emergencies, such as fires. Mrs. Howland’s book was very popular and stayed in print for over forty-five years with various titles and editions.
This edition of The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the society is a research library documenting the lives of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection comprises approximately 1,100 volumes.
Not much is recorded about Esther Howland’s life, but it is known that she was born in Massachusetts in 1801, and in 1823 she married John Howland, a direct descendant of Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower. Howland was a successful publisher of religious literature, and he also ran the largest bookstore and stationer’s shop in Worcester, Massachusetts. He first published his wife’s cookbook in 1844, reprinting it with various titles and revised editions for over a decade after which it was issued by other publishers. Their daughter Esther Howland became famous for introducing Valentine’s Day cards to the American public, and she created a thriving regional greeting card industry in Worcester.