What I’ve Learned From The Virginia Housewife

Virginia Housewife
Virginia Housewife


When I started this blog I seriously considered calling it The Modern Virginia Housewife, in honor of Mary Randolph’s publication from 1860. Being from Virginia, and growing up in a 300 year old home, I can easily imagine the women of old, cooking up some snapping turtle stew, or cleaning chickens, and there’s something so romantic about a simpler time.

While I haven’t tried any of her recipes, (yet!) her introduction into the management of a home and a kitchen, I thought, made perfect sense. It was my first introduction into the idea of home management; that our lives could be improved by the better management and organization of our homes. Some of my favorite quotes from her are below:


Virginia Housewife
Virginia Housewife

“The government of a family, bears a Lilliputian (this is references the small people from Gulliver’s travel) resemblance to the government of a nation. The contents of the Treasury must be known, and great care taken to keep the expenditures from being equal to the receipts. A regular system must be introduced into each department, which may be modified until matured, and should then pass into an inviolable law.” For more information on how I manage my Treasury, go here.


“The grand arcanum of management lies in three simple rules: — “Let everything be done at a proper time, keep everything in its proper place, and put everything to its proper use.” If the mistress of a family, will every morning examine minutely the different departments of her household, she must detect errors in their infant state, when they can be corrected with ease; but a few days’ growth gives them gigantic strength: and disorder, with all her attendant evils, are introduced.”


Virginia Housewife
Virginia Housewife

“Early rising is also essential to the good government of a family. A late breakfast deranges the whole business of the day, and throws a portion of it on the next, which opens the door for confusion to enter.”


“Management is an art that may be acquired by every woman of good sense and tolerable memory.” She goes on to say how if a woman is raised in a disorganized household, she’ll have difficulty at first, but “…a determined resolution to obtain this valuable knowledge, will enable her to surmount all obstacles.”

Virginia Housewife
Virginia Housewife

“The prosperity and happiness of a family depend greatly on the order and regularity established in it.” She goes on to speak of how happy the husband will be when he knows he can invite a friend over to his home for dinner, and not have to worry that his home is disorderly or that his wife will have to scamper to accommodate an extra plate at the table. “–will feel pride and exultation in the possession of a companion, who gives to his home charms that gratify every wish of his soul…”

For a free text version of the book, go here.

In this day and age, I feel like we get so caught up in the busy-ness of life, we let the important things slide. We can learn a lot from the olden days.

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