Our Own Snug Fireside

Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860

Jane C. Nylander

View Inside Price: $34.00


May 25, 1994
334 pages, 8 1/4 x 9 1/2
162 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300059533
Paper

This charming book portrays domestic life in New England during the century between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Drawing on diaries, letters, wills, newspapers, and other sources, Jane C. Nylander provides intimate details about preparing dinner, spinning and weaving textiles, washing and ironing laundry, planning a social outing, and exchanging food and services. Probing behind the many myths that have grown up about this era, Nylander reveals the complex reality of everyday life in old New England.
 
"Nylander . . . invites her readers to enjoy her copious knowledge of the interiors and domestic management of late-18th-century New England homes. The imaginatively illustrated [book] is dedicated to the notion that the details of everyday life form the core of human experience."—Martha Saxton, The New York Times Book Review
 
A fact-filled, copiously illustrated, revealing survey of Yankee life and households in an earlier time, . . . informative and valuable for its many glimpses of American interiors."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"A delightfully intimate portrayal of New England home life. . . . Enlivened by 162 period illustrations, [Nylander’s] survey affords a rare glimpse of middle- and upper-class housework, clothing, kitchens, diet, socializing and much else."—Publishers Weekly
 
A century-long portrait of day-to-day activities in a New England home. . . . Nylander’s nitty-gritty approach is absorbing. . . . Photographs from various historical societies along with period sketches and paintings add pizzazz and authenticity."—Booklist
 
"A  visual and narrative feast."—Robert St. George, University of Pennsylvania

"A fascinating evocation of home life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. . . . It is so highly detailed, even intimate, in its treatment of its subject matter that it manages to achieve a quality of universality and timelessness."—Richard Grant, Down East



“’Welcome, welcome, every guest’ to a rich portrait of life in the New England home and neighborhood. Jane Nylander writes brilliantly about the qualities and parameters of living among rank and file New Englanders from the late colonial period until the Civil War. From parlor to privy, from wintertime to wash day, she has mined hundreds of manuscripts and reminiscences for an understanding of the myths and realities of the Yankee ethos. Rather than discount early antiquarians as biased ancestor worshippers, she explains their perspective and explores their words and photographs as viable documents of domesticity, climate, hygiene, nutrition, celebration, and so on. Once you have read Jane Nylander’s book, you will find that it, like the legendary Yankee home, is ‘a place where the fire never went out’.”—Philip Zea, Curator, Historic Deerfield, Inc.

"Jane Nylander’s Our Own Snug Fireside is rich in vivid detail about the material realities and rhythms of domestic life in New England past. Historians, museum professionals, and preservationists will find this volume indispensable while, happily, the general reader also will find it a pleasure."—Katherine C. Grier, Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Utah

"Using every conceivable source, Jane Nylander had written as complete account of New England housekeeping as we are likely to get. All the details are there about the elusive routines of everyday life. Only a scholar with Nylander’s knowledge of written records and the artifacts could be this comprehensive."—Richard L. Bushman

"No one knows more about the daily work of home life in pre-industrial New England than Jane Nylander. Her careful reading of diaries, letters, memoirs and probates, as well as the wide range of visual evidence, captures that lost domestic world in first-person."—Richard M. Candee, Professor, American & New England Studies & Director, Preservation Studies Program, Boston University

"Obviously a labor of love for Jane Nylander, Our Own Snug Fireside takes us through the experiences and reminiscences of old New Englanders. For those tired of the depersonalization of quantified history, this fascinating book describes the daily domestic life of women who ran households, fed and clothed extended families, and still found time to write about an endless round of chores under less than ideal conditions. This is a must read for anyone interested in domestic life before the Industrial Age."—Betty C. Leviner, Curator of Exhibition Buildings, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

"Our Own Snug Fireside is a visual and narrative feast, a book brimming over with the people, objects, and daily routines that made New England a mythic place. With clarity and a passion for the human side of history, Jane L. Nylander argues the centrality—and amazing flexibility—of the family in New England culture. From the predictable rhythm of the passing seasons to the orderly rooms of a Yankee farmhouse to the year’s culmination in Thanksgiving, this wonderful book, like the New England it portrays, offers something for everyone."—Robert St. George, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

"Jane Nylander skillfully conjures the voracity of detail, leading us through the years, months, days and hours of domestic life in New England between 1760 and 1860. I would urge all students of the early American house and family to settle before their own snug fireside and explore the promise and pleasure of this book which is as encyclopedic in content and as astute in observation as it is warm and welcoming in tone."—Elisabeth Donaghy Garrett, Sotheby’s

"Nylander sees like a curator, listens like a playwright, and explains Yankee household work like the most practical materfamilias. Everyone who studies social history, or restores old houses, or writes and produces costume epics, is going to have to start over by reading this book."—Richard Rabinowitz, President, American History Workshop

"In this thoroughly researched and beautifully written cultural history, Jane Nylander reveals the patterns and poetics of New England family and community life between 1760 and 1860. Nylander brilliantly illuminates the development of Americans’ historical consciousness and its attendant mythology."—Harvey Green, Associate Professor of History, Department of History, Northeastern University

"America should celebrate Jane Nylander’s new book. Better than anyone, she understands family patterns in early New England. With salty delight she mines written records, pictorial sources, and the full array of furnishings—from chairs to burial shrouds. Reasons and habits are thoroughly mixed and we ’see’ times and places and can reconstruct them in our minds or in historic houses."—John T. Kirk, Boston University

"We have much recent knowledge, statistical and factual, about the early American family. Jane Nylander adds a thoroughly human dimension, and through intimate contemporary documents transforms academic conclusions into a warm drama of remote peoples, played upon a stage of impeccable scholarship."—Abbott Lowell Cummings, Yale University (Emeritus)

"Nylander . . . invites her readers to enjoy her copious knowledge of the interiors and domestic management of late-18th-century New England homes. The imaginatively illustrated [book] is dedicated to the notion that the details of everyday life form the core of human experience."—Martha Saxton, The New York Times Book Review

"A fact-filled, copiously illustrated, revealing survey of Yankee life and households in an earlier time, . . . informative and valuable for its many glimpses of American interiors."—Kirkus Reviews

"A delightfully intimate portrayal of New England home life. . . . Enlivened by 162 period illustrations, [Nylander’s] survey affords a rare glimpse of middle- and upper-class housework, clothing, kitchens, diet, socializing and much else."—Publishers Weekly

"A century-long portrait of day-to-day activities in a New England home. . . . Nylander’s nitty-gritty approach is absorbing. . . . Photographs from various historical societies along with period sketches and paintings add pizzazz and authenticity."—Booklist