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Home Life In Colonial Days Paperback – April 1, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"When the first settlers landed on American shores, the difficulties in finding or making shelter must have seemed ironical as well as almost unbearable. The colonists found a land magnificent with forest trees of every size and variety, but they had no sawmills, and few saws to cut boards; there was plenty of clay and ample limestone on every side, yet they could have no brick and no mortar; grand boulders of granite and rock were everywhere, yet there was not a single facility for cutting, drawing, or using stone. These homeless men, so sorely in need of immediate shelter, were baffled by pioneer conditions, and had to turn to many poor expedients and be satisfied with rude covering. In Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and, possibly, other states, some reverted to an ancient form of shelter: they became cave-dwellers; caves were dug in the side of a hill and lived in till the settlers could have time to chop down and cut up trees for log houses."
--from Chapter I

In this comprehensive study on the way of life of the early settlers in the New World, Alice Morse Earle accurately details the new experiences of the colonists and the daily struggles and problems they faced.

Once the settlers built homes, they were met with such problems as providing lighting and preparing and storing food. How they met these challenges, how they lived, and how they survived are all brought to life in Home Life in Colonial Days.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alice Morse Earle was an American historian born in 1851, who wrote many engaging books that cronicled the details of everyday life in colonial America.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 538 pages
  • Publisher: Heritage Books, Inc (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788415123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788415128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,342,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 90 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Alice Morse Earle has written several books on life in Colonial America. This is the first one of her books I've read, and I am eager to move on to another volume, perhaps Child Life in Colonial Days. Mrs. Earle's "Home Life" is a fascinating description of everyday life --- the chores, the tools, the dwelling places, the foods, the sights and sounds --- that Colonial Americans knew. Have you ever seen a strange tool or implement in a museum, an antique shop, or hanging on the wall at a country restaurant, and no one seems to know exactly what it is or what it was used for? Read this book: its many illustrations will more than likely include that mysterious object; and Mrs. Earle will describe clearly what it was and how it was used. This book should be in the library of every enthusiast of American antiques. Without a doubt, this book contains information found nowhere else in a book now in print. This is not a history of Colonial America --- although it contains many interesting tidbits about our country's earliest days. It is, however, an excellent description of everyday life in America, 1600 - 1800, with special emphasis on New England and Virginia. As such, this book would be useful not just to historians and antique collectors, but to writers, museum curators, and anyone who wants to understand Colonial America.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By WD Grissom on November 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
This hundred-year-old work retains its vitality and usefulness.
In her wonderfully readable narrative, Earle conveys life in the colonies with vividness missing from most conventional texts. Starting with basic shelter, which were sometimes actually caves in the earliest days, she goes on to describe in detail the critical element of food supply, with careful explanations of culinary practices and useful drawings to illustrate the often-obscure utensils. (This latter feature will fascinate antique buffs.) Also covered are the home production of textiles, the dress of the colonists, travel, religious and social practices, flower gardens, and other matters, providing modern readers an insight into everyday colonial life hard to find elsewhere.
Earle's work is a feast of enjoyable information for history readers, collectors, and anyone else who wants to know how the early settlers lived. (The "score" rating is an unfortunately ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By rural girl on July 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book and I loved it.

First, Alice Morse Earle is descriptive and it is fascinating to read her personal feelings as she looks back in time, writing this in the late 1800's. She often speaks of things that they were still doing or using in the late 1800's that I have never heard of and she'll say "much like we still use" when she spoke of how they cleared snow from roads with horses and plows.

Each chapter is more interesting than I could have imagined:
Homes of Colonists
The Light of Other Days
The Kitchen Fireside
The Serving of Meals
Food from Forest and sea
Indian Corn
Meat and Drink
Flax Culture and Spinning
Wool Culture and Spinning (and cotton)
Hand-Weaving
Girls' Occupations
Dress of the Colonists
Jack-knife Industries
Travel, Transportation and Taverns
Sunday in the colonies
Colonial Neighborliness
Old-time Flower Gardens

Alice went over in detail the tools, fixtures, techniques and reasons for techniques. It was amazing to read about how much exercise and time women spent making material for clothes.

She talks about the earliest forms of tools and how they developed and why they developed and often mentions important inventors, most of whom we would never think about, because we don't have these crafts or trades like flax weaving anymore.

She writes about sustainability and surprised me in the weaving chapters on how colonists were able to gain freedom from England with their abilities and work ethics.

There are line drawings so we can grasp a better understanding of what these objects and tools looked like.
Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Puck on November 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased Alice Morse Earle's "Home Life in Colonial Days", which in its full, illustrated form, is extremely valuable to someone interested in colonial life. I paid the highest price I could afford, $27, thinking the edition would be a good one. It wasn't. The text was all run together, not even a separate page for titles, dedication, or chapters. There were NO ILLUSTRATIONS! Anyone who has held the true book in his/her hand would NOT appreciate such treatment of a dear classic. I'm still looking for the real book.
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Format: Paperback
A 1970s reprint of a very interesting 1898 look back at what were even then somewhat distant and fading pioneering/colonial days, and an antique way of life that was already mostly gone by then and which is, now, wholly gone; the mind-set, machinery, techniques, grit, determination, work ethic, industry, and vocabulary of our pioneer and founding days.

A wealth of information here, but what struck me most was how industrious our ancestors were, and how unremitting was their toil.

Very often they had only the ersatz and farthest approximation of the "finer things" in life but, nonetheless, every day, from dawn to well after dusk, by the inadequate, wavering, smoky light of pine knot, candle, or fireplace, in sweltering heat but more often in the icy cold, there was always hard work to be done--by everyone, high and low--if they were to survive (and, then, sometimes, prosper), and they persevered and did it. Grunt work some of it, but some of it precise; over twenty distinct, careful, intricate, labor-intensive steps--taking weeks worth of labor--needed just to process flax to the point where it could be spun into thread to be woven into the varieties of linen that clothed many people in those days, and that weaving process involving many more steps.

Soft, spoiled, lacking their grit and enterprise, and largely unaware and unappreciative of their skills and sacrifices, as most of us are today, we are not anywhere near their equal.
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