House-Keeping in the Sunny South — 1885 book with old folk remedies

house keeping bk

Here is a relic from the past, House-Keeping in the Sunny South by Mrs. E. R. Tennent, published 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia.

That was 130 years ago, when most people lived on farms, so the nearest doctor might have been several hours (or days) away by horse and buggy. Households back then — out of necessity — had to keep a diverse medicine cabinet to meet whatever ailments came their way.

From the book:

“You cannot afford to be without a medicine chest. Have it in the family room, under lock and key. The following medicines should always be found inside:

Spirits Camphor
Sweet and Castor Oil
Linseed Oil
Lime Water
Ground Quassia
Pulverized Alum
Black and Red Pepper…”

Hmm… looks like there’s nothing here that we would find in today’s medicine cabinet.

I had no idea what “ground quassia” or “laudanum” was until I looked it up. I do remember we had a bottle of Paregoric in the cabinet when I was a child, decades ago. And doesn’t turpentine belong in the garage?

What did they know back then about these medicines that “we” have forgotten? Or do we now just assume that these are quaint, obsolete preparations, best relegated to the dustbin of time?

There is a chapter in the book titled “Remedies”, with a few pages that I have scanned below. I think they are interesting, from a historical perspective. Many of the ingredients mentioned may no longer be available or legal in the U.S., or may be restricted in some way. Again, these pages are presented as historical information only. I’m not suggesting that you try any of them.

— Azul





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1 Comment on House-Keeping in the Sunny South — 1885 book with old folk remedies

  1. While researching “House-Keeping in the Sunny South”, I was interested to find it mentioned in your blog. The copy came to me by way of my aunt’s mother-in-law. Although falling apart at the seams, it has provided me with much entertainment. Trying to translate/decipher the old recipes and remedies has been quite a challenge at times.

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