What Young People Should Know:Olde Farmer’s Almanac of 1867

by admins on December 21, 2008

Far more was expected of young people in the agrarian culture of 1800s America than is expected today. Children were needed on the farm. They were entrusted with important responsibilities. They contributed to the family economy. This was not a bad thing by any means.

The following excerpt from the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” of 1867 is titled What Young People Should Know and it provides some perspective on the expectations of rural youngsters in that day and age.
The best inheritance that parents can leave their children, is the ability to help and take care of themselves. This is better than a hundred thousand dollars apiece. In any trouble or difficulty, they will have two excellent servants ready, in the shape of their two hands. Those who can do nothing, and have to be waited on, are helpless, and easily disheartened at the misfortunes of life. Those who are active and handy, meet troubles with a cheerful face, and soon surmount them. Let young people, therefore, learn to do as many different useful things as possible.

EVERY FARMER’S BOY should know how, sooner or later,

1. To dress himself, black his own shoes, cut his brother’s hair, wind a watch, sew on a button, make a bed, and keep all his clothes in perfect order, and neatly in place.
2. To harness a horse, grease a wagon, and drive a team.
3. To carve, and wait on table.
4. To milk the cows, shear the sheep, and dress a veal or mutton.

5. To reckon money and keep accounts accurately, and according to good book-keeping rules.

6. To write a neat, appropriate, briefly expressed business letter, in a good hand, and fold and superscribe it properly; and write contracts.

7. To plough, sow grain and grass seed, drive a mowing machine, swing a scythe, build a neat stack, and pitch hay.

8. To put up a package, build a fire, whitewash a wall, mend broken tools, and regulate a clock.

There are many other things that would render boys more useful to themselves and to others—these are merely a specimen. But the young man who can do all these things well, and who is ready at all times to assist others, and be useful to his mother and sisters, will command far more respect and esteem, than if he knew merely how to drive fast horses, smoke cigars, play cards, and talk nonsense to foolish young ladies at parties.

EVERY GIRL should know how,

1. To sew and knit.

2. To mend clothes neatly.

3. To make beds.

4. To dress her own hair.

5. To wash dishes and sweep carpets.

6. To trim lamps.

7. To make good bread, and perform all plain cooking.

8. To keep her room, closets, and drawers, neatly in order.

9. To work a sewing machine.

10. To make good butter and good cheese.

11. To make a dress, and children’s clothes.

12. To keep accounts, and calculate interest.

13. To write, fold, and superscribe letters properly.

14. To nurse the sick efficiently, and not faint at the sight of a drop of blood.

15. To be ready to render efficient aid and comfort to those in trouble, in an unostentatious way.

16. To receive and entertain visitors when her mother is sick or absent.

A young lady who can do all these things well, and who is always ready to render aid to the afflicted, and to mitigate the perplexities of those about her, will bring more comfort to others and more happiness to herself, and be more esteemed, than if she only knew how to dance, simper, sing, and play on the piano.




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