Is Nervous Prostration a Necessity with the Modern Woman?

This is the fourth article in June of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Jun 26, 1904, and is a longer article on worrying.

School for Housewives – Is Nervous Prostration a Necessity with the Modern Woman?

“Don’t Let Yourself Go! To Cut the Slender Line of Will Power Is to Drift Out!”

New York doctors have been exercising their wits lately to account for the alarming prevalence of cerebro-spinal meningitis among the children in that city. The impression is strong that the disease is contagious. Some ask, “Is there a cerebro-spinal meningitis germ?”

The student student of woman’s nature and ways is tempted to set on foot a like inquiry anent the fashionable malady of nervous prostration. Once in a while a man is threatened with it. Once in several whiles he becomes to kill himself to get rid of the horror. When the family of nerves – great and small – unites against the will, life to the masculine mind is not worth living.

For this, I take it, is what nervous prostration means – a general insurrection of the nervous system and the dethronement and banishment of the ruler God set over it – the Will.

No woman is ashamed of the rebellion. A physician called it yesterday, in my hearing, “the fashionable fad of women who have time to pamper whims.” A plain-spoken business man, when asked what one grievously afflicted woman, whose “prostration” was town talk, needed to bring about a cure, ripped out: “A steady regimen of washtub!”

The brutal prescription was based upon the fact that washerwomen and laborers’ wives, who must cook, wash, iron and “do” generally for their families, do not have nervous prostration. The luxury is as far beyond their reach as a summer at Carlsbad or a winter on the Nile. When our toiler is “tried to death” and “that worried that she feels as if she could fly,” she has the name of being “cross and ugly-tempered.” When she cries stormily over the washboard she gets no sympathy. “Just let her have it out, and she’ll’’ come ‘round all right!” say her nearest of kin and dearest of heart.


And since the clothes must be out on the line and dinner be cooked before “he” comes in at noon, and there is nobody but herself to do these things, she “has it out,” and keeps the traces taut.

Necessity, in her case, braces the will to hold its own against the mutinous crew.

When the sufferer is not a fashionable puppet, jaded by the murderous round of “functions” and the demand upon invention and ingenuity made necessary by the effort to keep up with richer competitors for social distinction, but a conscientious, refined woman, wife and mother, or artist, or author, or editor, or minister’s wife, who succumbs piteously to the load laid upon her by duty and circumstances – where is the fault?

I could furnish a list of a score and more, at a minute’s notice, nervous wrecks, crying by the hour and the week like homesick babies; sleepless by night and smileless by day; travellers in the care of trained nurses on land and sea, dwelling in the dead calm of sanitariums and rest cures, forbidden to hold communication with friends and kindred until the belligerent nerves return to their allegiance.

They are “smitten of God and afflicted,” say those who love them; “cumberers of the earth,” say well people with well-balanced systems. The suffering is real and intense, whatever may have been the original cause. And the long list grows longer daily and yearly.

May I offer a single suggestion as to a possible preventive as the result of careful and compassionate examination of the fearful scourge of home and society? In every case of which I have any knowledge there came what may be called a crucial stage, when the tortured nerves broke the bounds of reason and defied the will. In plainer terms, the woman “let herself go.”

Every reader who has known the agony of a long-continued nervous strain will comprehend what I mean. She wanted to cry, and she gave way to hysterical weeping. She “felt (as some of us feel a dozen times a week) as if she must scream!” and she screamed. In short – she gave up the fight, and the enemy took possession.

One more screw upon the willpower, one desperate last stand for liberty, and the Rubicon would have been safely passed.

Suffer one of a hundred illustrations of the truth of my position – one the memory of which has tided me over many a crisis in my own history.

A busy woman was pronounced a hopeless invalid by physicians and friends. There was no talk of hypochondria. Repeated hemorrhages had sapped strength; crushing sorrow and unremitting toil had lowered her nervous forces to a minimum.

For weeks she had struggled to rise in the morning and go about her daily tasks, fighting bravely against debility, depression and the terrible, nameless sensation of drifting out into a sea of nothingness, which may not be strange one morning. A night of horrible insomnia left her as faint of will as of body. When her husband came to her bedside with the usual inquiry as to how she felt, she answered that she could not rise.


“I have let go! I shall drift out, and make an end of it!” she ended, mournfully calm.

He was a sensible man, and to sense he added tact. “I know it is asking much of you to wish you to try to live a little longer,” he said. “I say nothing of the inconvenience to myself and the elder children that would come from your death. But there is Bob! He’s your only boy, and just 3 years old, you know. If you could make up your mind to live long enough to see him through college it would be a great thing for him. He’ll go to the devil without his mother!”

The mother lay still for a long minute, her eyes apparently fixed upon the all. In reality, she was seeing Bob – motherless baby, schoolboy, college-lad, impulsive, headstrong, clever for evil or for good – going wrong without the balance wheel, the sure anchor of her love. Presently she said softly – still gazing into the air – “Send my maid to me; I am going to get up!”

She lived to see Bob graduated. She is living still, in a hale old age, and her children call her blessed. That minute-and-a-half decided the current of their lives with hers.

Dropping from the pathetic to the ridiculous – he was a shred carter who stuffed a handful of dirt into the mouth of his balky horse – to give him a new idea!

To return to my homely prescription for the nerve-worn and weary – DON’T LET YOURSELF GO! TO CUT THE SLENDER LINE OF WILL POWER IS TO DRIFT OUT!

Marion Harland


Glove Cleaning: A New Occupation for Women

This is the third article in June of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Jun 19, 1904, and is an article on female occupation.

School for Housewives – Glove Cleaning: A New Occupation for Women

Among the many new avocations undertaken by the clever modern woman, when suddenly thrown upon her on resources, is that of professional glove cleaner.

It is work that any girl of average intelligence can do, and for which there is always good demand.

A trade is usually obtained by cleaning gloves for one’s wealthy friends, gradually widening the circle among mutual acquaintances and the outside world.

The glove cleaner calls once a week o once a fortnight, according to arrangement, at the house of the customer.

She goes armed with a small work case, which contains all the furnishings necessary for repairing torn kid, and with a bottle of some good liquid cleaner.

An expert worker gives the following rules for the work:

The fluid is poured into a large bowl, and two pairs are cleaned at a time, using enough to cover the gloves well.

Wash the cleaner pair first, treating them just as if washing with water.

Rub one glove with the other, with special attention to the seams.

Have a little cloth for scrubbing spots.

Clean the fingers by dipping them into the fluid, then rubbing hard on a clean towel.

Wooden glove hands in the different sizes are invaluable for this work.

The gloves should be dried by squeezing, not wringing.

Before hanging out to dry inflate with a bellows. Dry in the wind.

Be careful, if your cleaning fluid contains any explosive, not to use it near a light.

Marion Harland

A Simple Summer Dessert – by the French Method

This is the second article in June of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Jun 12, 1904, and is a recipe.

School for Housewives – A Simple Summer Dessert – by the French Method

Here is a little cooking school lesson in pictures, given by a French pastry cook – a pâtissier.

The subject is a dainty summer dessert which can be varied from month to month by employing the different fruits as those come into season.

The pastry, if well made, is not unwholesome, and stewed fruit is unquestionably more appetizing served in these pretty shells than ungarnished in a dish or bowl.

To make the puff paste, use exactly equal parts of flour and butter, a little water and a pinch of salt.

Sieve the flour, preferably upon a marble-topped table. By stirring with the fingers in the centre of the heap thus formed, make a hollow ring of the flour as shown in the illustration. Have this ring equally thick and wide all around. Now put the salt and water into the hollow formed by the ring; melt the salt; stir in the flour a little at a time.

When the mixture has begun to thicken, stir in the rest of the flour as rapidly as possible.

Using both hands, roll the paste away from you upon the table. Now gather it together and work it with the base of the thumb, pushing it away from you in small pieces, little by little.

Sprinkle the table with flour, make a ball of the paste, pat the top down a little to make it lose some of the elasticity acquired in the working, and let it stand for a moment.

Now for the butter. Dust the surface of a clean towel with flour, place the butter on this. Fold the edges of the cloth over the top and bear down it to soften the butter, this movement several times from different sides, giving the batter a square shape.

Take the ball of paste which lies in front of you on the table, sprinkled with flour; flatten out into a square, put the butter on this and fold it in tightly as shown in the picture.

Sprinkle the table once more with flour, hold the paste in the hand at some height and dash it down upon the table. Take the roller gently roll out the embryo crust in a forward direction, using moderate force and proceeding without jerks, which last are sure to create unevenness in the crust.

Roll out very thin. Fold over a third part in a forward direction and bring another third over toward you.

Turn the paste half way around, that is to say, let the side which is at your left hand come directly in front of you. Take the roller, roll out once more and again fold it in the same way. Flour a baking board, a dish or a pie plate, put the paste on it, and set aside in a cool place for fifteen minutes.

Roll out and fold over twice; then allow it to stand another quarter of an hour.

Roll out in circular shape and place on a round plate or dish. In the middle pour four generous spoonfuls of the fruit as for any tart.

Spread out the rest of the paste which remains intact. Place this upon the foundation piece on which the fruit is spread; cut it by pressing down the ring and passing the point of the knife all around. Brush over with raw egg, indent a trifle with the point of the knife and bake forty minutes.

When finished dust with the finest of powdered sugar, and put back into the oven for a moment in order that the sugar may melt. Remove at once from the pan on which it is cooked, or it will taste of the metal.

Marion Harland

Dainty Table Furnishings Give a Flavor to Home Cooking

This is the first article in June of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Jun 5, 1904, and is an article on dining room furniture.

School for Housewives – Dainty Table Furnishings Give a Flavor to Home Cooking

It requires so little in the way of painstaking to produce a dainty, welled take, that there is little excuse for the slovenly board to which the average family is asked to sit down.

Does the average house mother realize how easy it is to keep the home table looking as well groomed as that of a fashionable cafe?

An occasional polishing will keep the table top bright and fresh. If centrepiece and doylies are substituted for the cloth at luncheon and any informal meal, the table linen can always be crisp and spotless without appalling increase in the laundry bill. Flowers, during a large portion of the year, may be had for the gathering, and even during the winter a flowering pot in a pretty jardiniere entails no great extravagance.

Today’s illustrations suggest a few of the little elegances hat may be applied to the breakfast, luncheon or dinner at home.

Artificial light is not considered requisite for breakfast, therefore the candlesticks, which may very correctly appear for luncheon, are not employed for this meal.

The ideal breakfast menu commences with fruit of some sort, and, as every fruit course calls for finger bowls, this little nicety should be observed at every home table. Have the bowls standing on the place plates with a doylie between when the breakfast arrives. They are lifted and placed at one side before beginning the repast, as shown in the illustrations.

The napkin is seldom now folded around a roll upon the place plate, as used to be the custom. It is laid at one side of the plate in the position indicated by the photograph.

It adds much to the daintiness of the household board to have the glass and silver prettily arranged as if for a more formal repast, with replenishments for each succeeding course.

Marion Harland

A New Glass for Serving Grape Fruit and the Various Fruit Mixtures Comes Just in Time for the Warm Weather Luncheon Table

This is the fourth article in May of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on May 29, 1904, and is an article a fruit glass.

School for Housewives – A New Glass for Serving Grape Fruit and the Various Fruit Mixtures Comes Just in Time for the Warm Weather Luncheon Table

A new glass for serving grape fruit, salad and kindred appetizers is going to be a boon to more than one housewife this summer.

For the sensible first course of fruit is no longer limited to hotels and fashionable cafes, where trained chefs are well aware of its appetizing, refreshing qualities.

The housekeeper who keeps abreast of things has adopted the idea for the home table. Instead of a hot soup or shell fish, the languid appetite is quickened by a mixture of fruits in season, palatably chilled with perhaps a taste of wine as flavoring.

The new glasses for serving these fruit mixtures come in various styles. Perhaps the most convenient among them is one in the shape of a tall goblet of cut or tinted glass having a small handleless bowl to match. The mixture is filled into the bowl, which is set in the goblet and packed in with shaved ice, so as to come just to the upper rim of the glass.

Of course all manner of dainty finishes are possible. Maraschino cherries, strawberries and hothouse grapes may be dotted over the surface of the preparation, and for state occasions a narrow ribbon can be tied around the glass, as shown in the picture.

The several methods of preparing grapefruit are pretty generally known and appreciated.

For a delicious fruit salpicon now served at the Waldorf use the following recipe:

Make such a selection of fruits as is desired. Pulp cut from halves of grapefruit, maraschino cherries, cut in halves, brandied peaches, cut in pieces, orange pulp, and slices of banana afford a choice. Chill thoroughly, then sprinkle lightly with sugar, and dispose in grapefruit glasses packed around with shaved ice.

Marion Harland

Where Some Women Fail as Home Makers

This is the third article in May of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on May 22, 1904, and is an article on homemaking.

School for Housewives – Where Some Women Fail as Home Makers

Photographs Taken Especially for This Newspaper Illustrating Some of the Things Which Do and Don’t Make the Home Happy

You understand why so many marriages “prove unhappy” and why so many husbands are promptly “disillusioned” when you see some women in their household attire.

The little photographic sermonette preached today, unhappily for our homes, requires no elucidation here.

“Gaze first on this picture, then on that.”

We all know the type.

She invariably wears a wrapper – or, at best, a soiled kimono with bedraggled petticoat – and she is morally certain to have a limited number of curl papers aureoling her brow.

The visitor who drops in for an afternoon call catches a flying glimpse of her as she scurries through the hall for a two minutes’ grooming in the bedroom.

Or the maid is out, and she herself comes to the door pinning on a collar all awry and struggling with a coiffure that threatens momentarily to escape from the anchorage of three wire hairpins.

If she were one of these sorely burdened creatures who do their own housework with half a dozen little ones to be tended and red and amused withal, your sympathy would be readier.

But in nine cases out of ten she is nothing of the kind. Mrs. June Bride, with at least one servant to do her bidding, and almost without cares, is as great a sinner in this respect as anyone.

Indeed, it is frequently the struggling sister, from whom one would naturally expect least, who presents the most creditable appearance indoors.

It is she, too, who manages to slip on a pretty bodice every night before coming to the dinner table.

The material may be cheap, and as for the flowers – they were culled from the window garden, costing nothing – but you see the picture that she makes across the table. Is it any wonder that the dinner tastes delicious!

Occasionally, too she wears “the company smile” at home. She of the wrapper-and-curl-paper type is apt to keep this charming possession laid away with her best dress for visiting purposes only.

Marion Harland

Keeping House by Electricity

This is the second article in May of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on May 8, 1904, and is a short article on electric lighting.

School for Housewives – Keeping House by Electricity

Many Old-Time Drudgeries Abolished and New Pleasures given by the Use of the Current

The electric current is now being harnessed in a dozen and one little ways to do the work of the modern housekeeper and her bidding.

The ceaseless treadmill of the sewing machine is done away with. A little motor getting its power from the ordinary lighting circuit does the work without labor and much more evenly. The speed can be regulated by means of a small lever. Any comfortable position can be assumed and an invalid can safely operate the machine.

The electric flatiron is particularly good for people occupying boarding houses or flats.

This iron heats up in a few minutes and can be kept at even temperature as long as the attachment is connected with the electrical circuit.

Electric curling irons working automatically are found in many progressive hotels. The popularity of this apparatus lies in the fact that no soot occurs, as is the case in heating with gas.

The electric chafing-dish is really a small stove which can be regulated so as to give the desired intensity of heat.

It can be carried in the overcoat pocket, and in a train, hotel or wherever electricity is available it can be set up and used for preparing coffee, tea, welsh rabbit and other viands.

None of these require more than the expenditure of three-quarters of an hour to operate. The greatest advantages of electricity are absolute cleanliness and safety.

Marion Harland

Individual Chafing Dish Course for a Woman’s Luncheon

This is the second article in April of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Apr 24, 1904, and is a short article on the chafing dish.

School for Housewives – Individual Chafing Dish Course for a Woman’s Luncheon

Serve one course of your informal luncheon in chafing dishes if you would have a flavour of extreme novelty and up-to-dateness permeate the little function. Wee individual chafing dishes, just large enough to contain an individual portion, are now sold in the shops, and hostesses who appreciate the value of novelty are taking advantage of the innovation. The materials for a delicious dish – creamed sweetbreads o chicken or mushrooms, we will say – are found in the little silver cooker set before each guest. The alcohol lamp under the dish is filled ready for lighting, and seasoning as well as any additional ingredients are passed by the maid. New stories, witticisms and good humored gossip circulate around the board, while spoons stir and silver or nickel dishes emit tempting odors. Every hostess of experience appreciates the value of some little innovation in entertainment-giving. A single touch of novelty is often sufficient to insure the success of the whole affair and it stamp it with the seal of originality.

Marion Harland

Furnishing a Room to Conceal Its Architectural Defects
Household Topics Discussed Briefly
Many Recipes Which are Recommended
Talks With Parents and Children

The New Dutch Designs for Embroidery

This is the second article in April of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Apr 10, 1904, and is a short article on embroidery.

School for Housewives – The New Dutch Designs for Embroidery

While scattered examples of the picturesque “Dutch” designs have been displayed on fancy-work counters for the last year or more, it is only of late that we have come to realize the full possibilities of these quaint patterns.

A great liking for them is manifesting itself in the advance sales of summer fancy work. Even the Japanese motif, with its topical interest, will prove no more than a powerful rival.

The sturdy Hollanders, with vrouws and children, are to be found upon every class of handwork. Whether for needle, carving tool or scorch pencil, what more effective treatment could be desired for the border of a table cover than a circle of tots in sabots playing some Dutch equivalent for “ring-around-a-rosy?”

Some good subjects for the decorator are shown in today’s illustrations. The laundry or toy bag in heavy yellow linen is trimmed with a stamped band all ready to embroider, there’s an effective little box, also decorated by needlework, and a desk outfit which then could be copied either in stitchery or burnt wood.

Pillow covers are especially attractive carried out in this way. and half a dozen or more of smart patterns have appeared.

For bureau boxes, wooden mirror backs, and the thousand and one little furnishings of boudoir or living room, it would be difficult to name a more satisfactory decorative scheme.

Marion Harland

Council Table Talks, Mainly About Babies and Mothers
Good Recipes by the Contributors

How Uncle Sam Teaches Gardening to Children

This is the first article in April of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Apr 4, 1904, and is about teaching children gardening.

School for Housewives – How Uncle Sam Teaches Gardening to Children

Photographs Reproduced by Courtesy Of “Floral Life,” Philadelphia.
Practical Work among Vegetables and Flowers for Public School Scholars

A few years ago the Department of Agriculture hit upon he happy idea of interesting public school children in practical gardening.

The plan was received with enthusiasm by the little circle of thinkers to whom it was first made known.

Here was a simple and pleasurable way of accomplishing a number of good ends. A way to keep the children interested and occupied in the open air and to stimulate their power of observation, at the same time causing forlorn or dilapidated back yards to blossom like the wilderness.

In he beginning the philanthropy was beset by many difficulties. One of the greatest of these was the fact that few teachers knew a pea vine from a pie plant.

Various methods were used to introduce the children to the seeds. In some instances little envelopes containing the latter were distributed to the pupils, with the laconic direction, “Plant.”

It is likely that all of the seeds were planted – but not all of them grew.

One tot carefully covered the envelope with six inches of soil, and eagerly awaited results. Several bricks were removed from the pavement by another youngster, the seeds most carefully distributed upon the earth and the bricks as punctilious returned to their former location.

Since that time civic leagues, woman’s clubs and similar institutions have helped along the good cause by distributing seeds, with directions for planting on the packet.

The results here have been much more satisfactory than by the first method.

The lasting and most valuable results, however, must be obtained through intelligently teaching the subject in the schools. In a short time the public schools of Washington, D.C., hope to be a model in this work for other cities.

The chief of the Bureau of Plant industry of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. E.T. Galloway, realizing the value of well-organized work through the medium of the public schools, placed at the disposal of the Normal School, a workroom, a greenhouse and all material necessary for an elementary course in horticulture. The course is under his careful guidance. Two ??? a ??? during one term is the time allotted to it.

By this method the child receives an addition of ??? to its teaching crops each year, equipped to handle the subject intelligently with children under their immediate care and to give inspiration and ideas to other teachers.

All facts are taught by experiments, the workroom being really a laboratory.

Germination experiments are performed in the spring, showing seed vitality, conditions for planting and depth of planting. Plant propagation by cuttings, budding and grafting are taught. Geraniums scarlet sage, hydrangeas, begonias, ivy are propagated in the fall and grown in the greenhouse during the winter. Cuttings of forsythia and privet for hedges are buried in sand to be ready for planting in the spring. Young apple seedlings are grafted. Bulbs are ??? for winter blooming. This material is used to beautify schoolrooms during the winter and school grounds in the warm weather.

In the spring each student has her home garden in which she applies her learning.

The beautifying of back yards is not the primary object in this course. it comes usually as a result of the effort expended, but the real aim is to cultivate close observation of plant life; to instil a love for plant culture, and by so doing awaken the young student teachers to the ??? influence of plants ins school or home, and to enable them to be an inspiration to others from the fullness of their pleasure in the work. Some of the students prefer to devote their ??? to but one variety of plant, bringing it to a high state of perfection. Sweet peas, poppies and nasturtiums have been prime favorites for such work. Others have remodelled yards after methods of good planting, keeping the centre of the yards in grass and massing the plants in borders. A number of them have had to resort to box gardening, but, whatever the form, i has always brought pleasure with it.

In addition to the work mentioned, the course of instruction calls for planning improvements of school grounds.

A school very much in need of attention is selected. Each student submits a plan for improving its grounds without reducing the playground.

The best plan is accepted and followed.

Marion Harland

A Collection of Good Recipes of General Interest
Housewives, Parents and Children Discuss Topics of Mutual Interest – Little Talks with Marion Harland
Starching – For Young Housekeepers