Tuesday, July 26, 2011

HEARTH - Tuesday's Tip

You won't find your ancestors but you can discover what their world might have been like at HEARTH - Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, and History. HEARTH offers scanned images of books, journals, and magazines published between 1817 and 1999. It is made available by the Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University.

If you are interested in how your ancestors might have built, ventilated, and plumbed their homes; mixed paint; bought food; raised their children; decorated their homes; fed their chickens; and myriad other topics, HEARTH is a source of wonder and knowledge.

With a perusal of titles by date I learned that beginning in the 1870s people were concerned about sanitation and sewage as well as the health of their children. Beginning in the 1880s diet became a topic of interest as did the psychology of the child and occupations for women outside the home. By the early 1900s people were thinking about how food and diet affected health. I was surprised that hand-spinning and home weaving were still of interest into the 1920s. Topics of continual interest seemed to be plans for and the building of homes and outbuildings and wise money-management. The first mention of home food preservation was in 1912 and electricity in 1913. Browsing the titles by date gives a brief overview of interests of the various time periods.

HEARTH offers several ways to find information.

Perusing by Subject you will find topics such as Childcare, Human Development, & Family Studies; Clothing & Textiles; Food & Nutrition; Home Management; Housing, Furnishing, and Home Equipment; etc. Each category offers the option to read a brief essay about the topic and/or view a bibliography of titles in PDF. The bibliographies are compiled alphabetically by author but HEARTH does not offer the option to click through to the online sources. As far as I can tell, not all books in the bibliography are available online.

Search methods include basic, boolean, proximity, and bibliographic. The site offer tips for performing searches, an especially handy option for anyone not familiar with search terms. Their search engine seemed somewhat cumbersome to me.

Browse by date in 20-year time periods or alphabetically by title or author. I enjoyed spending time looking at the offerings. The topics I mentioned above are a result of looking through the books available by date.

If you choose to look at an image as a PDF you can enlarge it to whatever size is easy for you to read. There is also the option to print pages or whole books. When you get to the book, you can click on arrows to page through the book or use the drop-down box to click on the page number you'd like to view.

HEARTH also offers issues of Harper's Bazaar, 1867-1900, and of Good Housekeeping from 1885 to 1950.

If you think HEARTH might be useful, I hope you find it so.


  1. This looks like a great resource. I'm looking forward to checking it out. I have been looking for social history info to help tell the stories of my great grandmothers. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you Nancy! What an interesting site. I love it!

  3. Thanks for sharing this awesome resource. I recently tried to make current jelly using an old pre- pectin era recipe and had a total failure. I found a great 1912 publication on the Hearth website on how to make jellies. I now think that I know what I did wrong--and look forward to trying some more old jelly recipes.

  4. Thanks for a great resource---resources such as this really help to fill in the blanks of my knowledge of the lives back then.

  5. neat to see a blog on heritage! awesome!

  6. Thanks for a link to a great resource. I am always trying to find books and articles that open a door to how my ancestors lived.


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