Do you wonder which vintage books are the best use of your time and money? Me, too! In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to track down vintage books. I admit to having spent more than I should on vintage books, both good and bad! (Fortunately, my husband doesn’t scold me about it.) Anyway, since some of my readers have asked, I thought it was about time to start posting different book lists for the modern-day ’50s housewife! So, I am planning a series of regular installments of “The Top 5 ’50s Housewife Books.” And without further ado, the first installment: The Top 5 ’50s Housewife Books for Keeping House.”
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What Makes a Good Vintage Housecleaning Book?
The criteria for my list of housekeeping books is: lots of lists/orders of work/SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), DIY cleaning recipes for cleaners, polishes, etc., laundry information and stain removal information, and planning help.
Some of my selections are stronger in some areas than others, and if that’s the case, I will note what is important about that title.
1. America’s Housekeeping Book
Yes. I love this book. And I never fail to recommend it as the VERY FIRST 50s housewife book you should get for your modern-day ’50s housewife library.
This book has EVERYTHING you need to get started as a ’50s housewife. (Except baby schedules, which is why the Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book is the second book that I recommend you get!) I’m talking about schedules, how to organize your kitchen, laundry, home maintenance, home safety and nursing — even reupholstering!
2. The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book
Most people feel that the lists of daily and weekly cleaning chores in this book are simpler than the ones in the America’s Housekeeping Book. They include essentially the same tasks, but because the lists don’t include as much detail, they feel easier when you read them.
This book also has THE BEST stain removal information that I have found yet!
There are often copies of this book available used from Amazon or eBay.
3. The 1-2-3 of Housekeeping
This book is pretty much just EVERYTHING about homemaking reduced to lists and diagrams. I have a lot of fun using it to clarify the essentials of each area of homemaking. SO MUCH FUN.
This book is rare. I haven’t seen original copies anywhere. But you can read a copy of it at HathiTrust.
4. Manual for the Training of the Disabled Homemaker
This is a really unique book. It is essentially a mid-century occupational therapy and rehabilitation book. It focuses on women who are disabled by neurological conditions, paralysis, and amputations. But, with such a wide range of conditions, I found it helpful even when all I was suffering from was an excess of pregnancy!
Seriously, this book is amazing, and it just proves my point about how mid-century housekeeping really does cover everything.
This book is also really rare. I’ve never seen it for sale. You can read it at HathiTrust, tho!
5. Living for Two by Enid Wells
This book is a little earlier than the others, but I LOVE it. Admittedly, I can’t use it, but it is all about newlywed homemaking. It is even better than The Bride’s Reference Book, although that one is a bit easier to find.
This book, from 1939, is sometimes available at eBay or Amazon. I expect to find it at Internet Archive or HathiTrust one of these days tho!
What Are Your Top 5 ’50s Housewife Books for Keeping House?
So, do you use modern or vintage housekeeping books? I have to say that I really prefer my vintage books. When it comes to housekeeping, I think that they new everything! The only modern info I use is about taking care of my husband’s gaming computer.
If you have ideas on what other book lists you’d like to see, let me know!