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Housewife's Rich Cabinet

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Housewife's Rich Cabinet

Remedies, Recipies, & Helpful Hints

Have you ever wondered how Shakespeare's contemporaries dealt with toothaches and other ills, with cleaning their houses and clothing, and preserving food? If so, come explore the contents of The Housewife's Rich Cabinet : her medicines, perfumes, cosmetics, cleaning solutions, pest controls, and preserving hints, as they are recorded in 90 books and manuscripts of the 16th through the 18th century on display in the Library's Great Hall. A number of the recipes were tested by a volunteer, and observant viewers may see the results.


Tudor and Stuart women were raised to be good housewives. They were instructed in cooking, baking, brewing, distilling, preparing medicines, and caring for the sick. They were also taught to be obedient, modest, temperate, and patient. A good wife was, in Shakespeare's words, "both dame and servant" to her husband. While many women could not read and depended on instructions handed down by word of mouth, others could turn to printed books or to handwritten volumes of recipes which they and members of their families compiled.


This exhibition illustrates her duties, the skills she was expected to have, her sources of information on the properties of herbs and other ingredients, and the recipes compiled for her and by her.

First Sweep Thy House

Keeping a House Bright and Clean
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Ridding Your House of Bugs

The Complete Vermin Killer
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A Merry Feast

Cooking and Entertaining
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Every Housewife Made a Doctor

Herbal Remedies for Aches and Pains
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Great Bellied Women

Pregnancy and Childbirth
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Beauty's Treasury

Cosmetics and Beauty
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Art's Treasury

Homemade Decorative Arts
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Curated by Rachel Doggett, Jean Miller, & Francie Owens, Housewife's Rich Cabinet runs from August 27, 1997, through January 31, 1998.


You can also buy  the catalogue for the exhibition, Housewife's Rich Cabinet, which includes a varriety of recipes from books and manuscripts in the Folger's book and manuscript collection. 


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