Flashback: A 1930s ‘Domestic Handbook’ for Housewives


In 1930, the Jewish Times wasn’t only publishing a weekly news magazine.

As a companion to the Feb. 7 edition, the JT also published a “Domestic Handbook,” provided for “the purpose of aiding the housewife” in matters regarding meal preparation, table settings, cleanliness, home decor, luncheons and even stain removal, to which a full half-page is devoted.

“The Editor trusts you will accept this booklet with their compliments and use it advantageously,” reads the foreword.

The various tutorials — “We Judge a Woman by Her Home,” “Hospitality: The Mark of Civilization” and “Make Your Meals Dainty and Attractive” — have no identifiable author. No matter who the author might have been, it’s hard to read the handbook without a set of 21st-century eyes.

The tones of the tutorials are quite matter-of-fact, more telling than suggesting. “No room is truly beautiful, a real success, unless the lights arrangements are right,” reads one.

“Black coffee is always served after a formal dinner. The men usually have it in the dining room as soon as the ladies withdraw. It is served to the ladies in the drawing room,” another says.

With the exception of ads for things like Ritter Catsup, Colonial Ice Cream and Gelfand’s Mayonnaise (“The Housewife’s Only Competitor”), pages 27 through 58 contain mostly recipes, hundreds of them. From white caviar appetizers to salmon and brown bread sandwiches, no meal is forgotten, though some might have been invented.

There are plenty of etiquette tips, too. The pamphlet reads, “There are several things a hostess should be careful to train her waitress in. Dinner should be announced promptly, service should always be from the left side, and the food should be very hot. During the progress of dinner she should stand opposite the hostess so that she can be summoned at any time.”

Flashback is a feature that honors the JT’s 100th anniversary. Have a particular date you’d like us to look at? Let us know.


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