Maria's School Book of 1876

"Woman & her Mission in Life"
 I was recently lent an old school exercise book written by a girl called Maria Wood, born 1859 in Oakworth nr Keighley who married George Bancroft at St John's Church, Keighley in 1895. The book gives a  charming and also fascinating insight into life in the 1870's through the eyes of a young girl, and the preparation given in her school years, for her future role as a wife and mother.
I'm not sure the young women of today would be encouraged to go along with this philosophy of life....see what you think!
[Please note, I have not altered the grammar or spelling from the original book]

Woman & her Mission in Life
My Dear Teacher,
I would think that a woman's mission in life is at home. Her duty there should be to learn all she can to fit her for a future state, not only in this world, but she should make ready for her grand future in heaven. If she should have younger brothers and sisters, her duty is to show them a christian example and to speak kind words and wear a cheerful countenance. One of her missions and that not least is in sickness to watch and help.  And if there is any sorrow, her place is to soothe and comfort.To be true to all honest upright in all her undertakings. Also to keep herself pure and unspoilt from the world. The mission also is to teach and inspire others in education necessary for this life as well as for that which is to come. In fact her mission in life my be in any other place where she might be called to do good.
Therefore I close for the present.
With love for you.

Domestic Economy
Domestic Economy means management of the home.
Home is home be it ever so homely.
Woman's work is never done, there is always something to do...washing, baking, cooking, mending , cleaning, sewing, week by week, day by day it is never done. 
Father is the bread winner. Father has to go forth into the world to follow his occupation, whatever it may be, to earn money to keep home together.
Mother is the bread dispencer. Mother has to make the bread, and cook it, making it nice and plesant to eat.
Diet cures more than Doctors, by knowing what kind of food to take and taking care of what we eat.
Cleanliness is essential to health and gives pleasure both to ourselves and others in seeing things clean and bright.
Order means regularity as to time and place in whatever we have to do by trying to keep everything in it's proper place
Thrift is being good handed in doing things quickly yet rightly as they should be done
Tact means doing just at the right time and in the right place anything we have to do.
Common Sense is having forethought of what as so be done and how to be done, when to be done, with promptness in doing at the right time and in the right place
A constant outgoing demands a proportionate income or they will be bankrupcy

Home Management
It helps those who have any charge of housekeeping by promoting to the various kinds of food and the best way of preparing them discusses the choosing, washing and mending of clothes. Also shows us the need for keeping the house clean and airy so as to preserve the health of those that live in it and tells how to nurse the sick in times of illness.
If you would enjoy good health, get as much fresh air as you can and use plenty of soap and water to keep open the pores of the skin.Spare no pain to secure cleanliness.
In buying your cloths, think more of use rather than show. The first great use and objective in clothing is to keep in the heat of the body and assist the skin in regulating this temperature. What we want for clothing our bodies is some light material first which is a bad conductor of heat and at the same time will permit the free ventlation of the skin
Bear in mind that the fresher and purer the air you breath is, the more healthful and vigoures you are likely to be in mind and in body. Distinct results from inhaling bad air are 1st... A general lowering of the tone of health, and 2nd... immidiate fainting

Pleasures & Benefits by acquiring knowledge
My Dear Teacher,
I think that knowledge is a great benefit to people, it helps them to become high in office and great in talent. Their position is far superior to those who are ignorant. It gives them power to display their good qualities, and to know and understand things and places seen and not seen, both in temporal and spiritual things. It helps them to be useful in every domestic duty in life, and worthy in position, ameable in manners, knowledge benefits people in a great many ways. They have pleasures according to their knowledge of things and places if rightly used. I do not remember any more at present.

The book then finishes of with dozens of recipes, presumably given to her by the teacher, some of which sound very interested by today's standards. They include such things as: Haricot Mutton, Stewed Rabbit, Gruel, Bread Currant Pudding, Christmas Loaf [which has the note..."tried very good" written next to it]....and on and on!

For me, probably the best motto of life is this, from Maria's own wise words:
"Be thorough in everything... the best of everything, but be real... if you cannot get the best, get the next best to it. If you cannot get gold, get silver, if you cannot get silver get gelt or stone or pearl and so on"

[ I have previously written an article about Maria's family life after marriage to George Bancroft. To read it click here]

Maria Bancroft in later life


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. i have been looking for a quality article for some time now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a quality article, and times have changed!