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"Eateth Not the Bread of Idleness": Church Cookbooks and Victorian American Domesticity

Bailey, Emily Jean (2011) "Eateth Not the Bread of Idleness": Church Cookbooks and Victorian American Domesticity. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The Victorian era in the United States saw significant changes in the social, domestic and religious roles of women. This period, from shortly after the Civil War until the First World War, marked a shift for women from traditional middle-class female responsibilities to more domestically challenging ones. This study examines late Victorian Protestant church community cookbooks as moral and cultural guides written by women for women, documenting the domestic roles and Christian practices of women in the years before and after the turn of the twentieth century. This paper first defines the American Victorian period. It considers the relationship between women and Protestant Christianity during the era in relation to female social roles. It then examines church community cookbooks as uniquely viable and valuable historical and autobiographical sources through which to better understand Christian domestic practice in Victorian America. Protestant Victorian female ideals and gendered piety reveal the role of women as moral matriarchs, and how men factored into the domestic equation during the period. Eleven American Protestant Christian cookbooks published from 1881 to 1913 serve as case studies throughout. These texts illuminate the late Victorian period through the words and recipes of the women who wrote them. They also present recipes for food and life in broader terms as domestic and religious guides, and advertisements from the texts offer additional information about the connection between domesticity and religion during the era. This argument concludes with an analysis of the lasting influences of the church community cookbooks on domestic manuals through the mid-twentieth century, reflecting on the relevance of the texts to the generations of women who have shared them.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bailey, Emily Jeanejb43@pitt.eduEJB43
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberChilson, Clark
Committee MemberCarr, Jean Ferguson
Committee MemberKane, Paula
Date: 27 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 December 2010
Approval Date: 27 January 2011
Submission Date: 9 December 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religious Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Beecher; Betty Crocker; Bible; piety; recipe; suffragist; Temperance
Other ID:, etd-12092010-211658
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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