Popular Science Monthly/Volume 43/October 1893/Household Arts at the World's Fair



THE visitor who wishes to learn what the World's Columbian Exposition has to teach in regard to the domestic arts will not find the exhibits in this field gathered in a separate building, as are those relating to Transportation or Agriculture. He will not find them entered as one class in the Official Catalogue, but must search them out in nooks and corners, and will often stumble upon them in the most unlikely places.

To begin with the house itself: two specimen dwellings of low cost are exhibited. Away down near the southeastern corner of the grounds is a neat wooden cottage, forming part of the New York exhibit, and known as the Workingman's Model Home. The house, with cellar, would cost ordinarily $1,000; it measures 20 X 28 feet, and is designed to stand on a lot of 25 X 40 feet. On the first floor are a hallway, living room, kitchen, bath room, and storeroom; on the second floor are three bedrooms, each with a closet, and a large closet at the front end of the upper hall. The house is furnished, and clothing for a family consisting of a man, wife, and three children is hung in the closets. Posted in the several rooms are lists giving the cost of the furniture, the clothing, and the living expenses. The outfit of furniture amounts to $300. The yearly expenses are estimated at $500, apportioned as follows: Rent, $120; food, $200; clothing, $100; fuel, $30; miscellaneous, $50. Experiments in feeding a family of five are carried on in the house by Miss Katherine B, Davis, of Rochester, and the bill of fare for each day since the beginning is posted in the living room. The cost of food for the whole family has ranged between fifty and sixty cents a day.

Just inside the Midway Plaisance stands the Philadelphia Workingman's House. It is a two-story structure of brick, the dimensions being 1543 feet, and it was erected by the Social and Economic Science Committee of the Woman's Auxiliary of Philadelphia. It contains six rooms and a bath room, has a furnace, and the cellar is concreted. Such a house could be built in most places for $2,300. Floor plans of both this and the New York house can be had for a small charge.

The several exhibits of cooking processes and appliances would make a very creditable display if brought together in one building. Opening from the gallery of the Woman's Building is a large room, where a lecture on cooking is given daily, after which the lecturer spends several hours in answering the questions of interested listeners. This room is called a Model Kitchen in the Official Catalogue, but it is fitted up as a lecture room, and not as a kitchen. The National Columbian Household Economic Association, organized by the Committee on Household Economics of the Board of Lady Managers, provides a lecturer, Mrs. Emma P. Ewing, for two months of the season that the fair is open. She lectured on bread-making during June, and is to return for the month of October. During the whole six months Mrs. Sarah T. Rorer lectures under the auspices of the Illinois Woman's Exposition Board. The board has assigned to her the special task of making known the proper way of cooking corn products to American and foreign visitors, with the object of widening the too restricted market for this product of our soil. Accordingly, Mrs. Rorer describes only dishes into which corn enters in some form. Her list is far from being so narrowly restricted as many might suppose; she has over two hundred recipes available, including breads, puddings of cornmeal and cornstarch, griddle cakes, mushes, hominy, blanc mange, and (not to be omitted) Philadelphia scrapple. A selection of these is included in the little recipe book given away at the lectures. Mrs. Rorer also gives lessons to a class of girls, the purpose of which is to show how cheaply instruction in cooking may be introduced into public schools.

Returning now to the southeastern corner of the grounds, we find close to the Anthropological Building a small structure devoted to demonstrations in cookery. Owing to various obstacles it was not opened until about August 1st. These demonstrations form part of the Massachusetts exhibit. They are conducted by Miss Maria Daniell, under the general direction of Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, Instructor in Sanitary Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The building is called the Rumford Kitchen, after the scientist of Massachusetts birth who did so much to advance the art of cooking just a century ago. Selections from three classes of dishes are prepared and served; namely, soups, luncheons for school children and students, and foods for the sick. Leaflets containing instructive matter are distributed, but no set lectures are given.

Beside the Rumford Kitchen stands another small building, also devoted to the teaching of cookery, and opened about the same time as its neighbor. This is a part of the New York exhibit, and is in charge of Miss Juliet Corson, the head of the New York Cooking School.

Considerable evidence may be found that cooking is being made a subject of school instruction in this and other countries. In the educational exhibits of the several States, which are placed in the gallery of the building of Manufactures and Liberal Arts, this subject is included in the school programmes of many cities and towns, and some pictures of classes at work are shown. From the gentleman in attendance at the educational exhibit of Japan the writer learned that domestic economy is taught in the schools of that country. In the German section of the Woman's Building is an alcove containing utensils, charts, and models of buildings used by the people's kitchen schools, household schools, and homes and schools for servants in Germany, with statistics concerning these and related institutions. This exhibit was prepared by Frau Lina Morgenstern, of Berlin. Near by may be found information concerning the housekeeping and other schools maintained by the Ladies' Societies of Baden, with pictures of the schoolrooms.

When we look to see what articles of home cookery have been sent for exhibition we find that the catalogue of the Woman's Building mentions fig preserves, other preserves, jams, jellies, home-made wines, and catsups, sent by four exhibitors, as being in the lecture room, but a diligent search in that room fails to reveal them. In the exhibit of woman's work in the Illinois Building, made under the management of the Illinois Woman's Exposition Board, is a neat case in which the Chicago Exchange for Woman's Work exhibits preserves, jams, jellies, and several kinds of pickles, very attractively put up. Preserves and jellies put up by women may also be found in the North Carolina section of the Agricultural Building and in the Florida and Colorado sections oi the Horticultural Building. In the latter building also is a large and varied assortment of apple jellies, each kind bearing the name of the variety of apple from which it was made, exhibited by a Maine woman. Across the avenue, outside the fair grounds, is the interesting exhibit of Manitoba. Here may be seen a large collection of preserved fruits and preserved and pickled vegetables, all put up by women in their homes.

The food stuffs, and especially the partly prepared foods exhibited by manufacturers, are numerous and varied. Most of these are placed in the gallery of the Agricultural Building, but there are a few important exceptions. Butter and cheese are to be found in the Dairy Building, coffee and tea in the foreign buildings or foreign sections of the large buildings. A great part of the exhibit in the Brazil Building consists of coffee, and this product is shown also by other countries of South and Central America and the West Indies. In some of the buildings a cup of the beverage may be had. Ceylon tea is served by Cingalese attendants in the Ceylon Court and in three or four of the general buildings. Four of the prominent chocolate manufacturers have separate small buildings in various parts of the grounds, and another has an attractive exhibit in the Agricultural Building. At all of these chocolate and cocoa are served. In the main food display the great packing houses exhibit canned, smoked, dried, and salt meats, canned fish and shell fish, mince-meat, lard, extract of beef, and canned soups. An English firm has gone one step beyond the canned soups and sends desiccated soups. Butterine or oleomargarine is shown by several manufacturers, and accompanied by clear and frank statements of how it is made and what it may be used for. Mixtures of beef suet and cotton-seed oil, under the names of vegetolo, cotosuet, and cottolene, are offered to take the place of lard. The value of rice and rice flour as food is well shown in the Louisiana section of the Agricultural Building. Brands of salt which are declared to withstand the attacks of "General Humidity" are exhibited in this building and in the Mining Building. In the inventions room of the Woman's Building are evaporated vegetables and sweet-potato flour prepared by a process which was invented by a St. Louis woman. Condensed milk and evaporated cream, baking powders, gelatin, fruit butters, pickles, and catsups are among the many other foods shown by enterprising manufacturers. At many of the food booths visitors are invited to taste the foods, and are requested to register their own names or those of their grocers.

There is no lack of appliances and utensils for cooking. The ranges are too numerous to mention, but a few unusual features may be noticed. One make has a round iron plate on the floor of the oven which revolves easily when it is desired to turn a pan that is set upon it. Another has a round piece cut out of the upper side of each cover and held in place by screws, its object being to prevent cracking. Still another has one cover made up of concentric rings so as to furnish five different-sized holes. Mrs. Rorer exhibits at her lectures a range having a perforated oven door lined with wire gauze. This, she says, enables meats to be really roasted in an oven instead of being baked. A range with which is combined a hot-water house-heating apparatus, the invention of a Chicago woman, is also shown in the lecture room and in the Manufactures Building. A long line of cooking apparatus for gas is shown, at one end of which is a simple hot plate and at the other a range with baking oven, broiling oven, dish warmer, and water back. The larger ranges have a flue to carry off the products of combustion. There is also a variety of gasolene and kerosene stoves. One novelty in this line is the parlor-lamp stove. It consists of an ornamental tripod supporting a top on which the cooking is done, an ordinary large parlor lamp being placed inside the base. When used for lighting, the lamp is set on top of the tripod. Among the kitchen appliances used in the New York Working-man's Home is the Aladdin oven, invented by Mr. Edward Atkinson, and fully described in this magazine about four years ago.

The greatest novelty in cooking appliances at the fair is unquestionably the apparatus for cooking by electricity, shown in operation in the gallery of the Electricity Building. The electric current is conducted into plates of enamel, where it meets with resistance and is converted into heat. These plates are attached to specially constructed ovens, broilers, griddles, flatirons, etc. An ordinary stewpan, coffee or tea pot, or steam cooker may be heated on the "disk heater." An outfit of articles necessary for a private house costs $60, or $77.50 if a heater for a kitchen boiler is included. Electricity has the same advantages over coal that gas has; its advantages over gas depend upon the fact that combustion, with its needs and limitations, is wholly done away with. There are no products of complete or accidentally imperfect combustion, there is not even a slight loss of heat into the room or up the flue. The strongest points of electrical cooking are comfort and convenience, but claims are made for it also on the score of economy. It is said that the cost of cooking by electricity is less than the cost with coal and about the same as where fuel-gas is used. This is on the supposition that the electricity is furnished at half the price charged for lighting.

Kitchen utensils are no less well represented than are stoves and ranges. The main exhibit of these is in the Manufactures Building. Among them may be mentioned stamped ware enameled in granite and other colors; spiders that will suit both right-handed and loft-handed cooks, having a lip on each side; two forms of "self-basting" roasting pans, designed to prevent meats from drying in the oven; knife-edge, torsion, and spring balances; and cast-iron ware polished and even nickel-plated. Portable ovens for gas and kerosene stoves also steam cookers jacketed with asbestos are shown. The jacket prevents the conduction of heat from the cooking food, thus utilizing a scientific principle which is too commonly disregarded in cooking. Cylindrical tin receptacles for flour and meal are shown which may be fastened against the wall at a convenient height. The flour is made to pass through a sieve by turning a crank and comes out by an outlet at the bottom. A measuring cup, which fits on to the outlet when not in use, forms part of the apparatus. There are quite a number of machines worked by a crank which save a great deal of tiresome and time-consuming hand work. One company exhibits a meat chopper, a fruit press, a sausage stuffer, and a cherry stoner. The same company makes a simple utensil, like a saucepan in form, for shaving ice. Another exhibitor has a little nutmeg-grater that is worked by a crank. A small roojn in the Woman's Building is devoted to inventions by women. Most of these are household articles, while some are of a wholly different character. These inventions are generally modifications of articles already in use, novel departures being rare. Among the cooking utensils in this room are a metal kneading-board, a kitchen knife especially adapted for slicing, a frying j>an with a hood and a flue to carry the smoke from the food down into the fire, and an egg and cake beater with a new form of stirrer. Another cake beater invented by a woman, and resembling the tin flour bin described above, is shown in the Agricultural Building. Inventions by women appear also in the Illinois Building, among them being a funnel, a baking pan, and a kettle holder for a stove. A fruit evaporator small enough for household use is shown in the Horticultural Building. The capacity of the smallest size is about half a bushel of apples. In the same building a German exhibitor shows knives of peculiar shapes, for paring and slicing vegetables and cutting them into ornamental shapes; also a cherry stoner. Household woodenware is to be found in the Forestry Building; one make has electrically welded flat hoops set in grooves in the staves, instead of the common riveted hoops; another has welded wire hoops which are imbedded in the wood at several points in the circumference. Near by are shown tubs, pails, keelers, bowls, milkpans, measures, etc., of indurated fiber (paper pulp), which are molded in one piece.

But few appliances are required for laundry work, hence the exhibits in this line are not conspicuous. Of course, wringing machines are no novelty, but one whose good points are actively exhibited by an attendant attracts considerable attention. It can be put on or taken off the tub with wonderful ease, and adjusts itself to any article from the thickness of a handkerchief up to that of a door-mat. A washing machine for domestic use, shown in the Forestry Building, consists of a round, covered tub with a corrugated bottom and having an axle passing through the cover. The axle carries a corrugated disk on the lower end and is turned by a crank at the top. In the Machinery Building a German invention may be seen. Its tub is three or four feet high and stands on a low frame. It is worked by pushing a lever back and forth. This action turns the drum containing the clothes, and rotates in the opposite direction a stirrer shaped like a four-legged stool. The "self-heating" washer has a box-shaped tub set on legs. Inside is a washboard hung horizontally from a frame, which is pushed back and forth upon another similar board by a long handle. The tub has a metal bottom to which a flame can be applied by means of a gasolene attachment. This attachment can also be swung out and used for making starch or heating a flatiron. One of the most creditable of women's inventions to be seen is the well-known "cold-handled sadiron," with a detachable handle. Another woman's invention for the laundry, shown in the Woman's Building, is called a "convertible chair," and is described as a combination of clothes rack, ironing board, clothes receptacle, and bosom board. Still another is a waist and sleeve pressing board. Plain laundered articles are shown in the exhibit of the London Board Schools, each piece being marked with the name and age of the girl by whom it was done up. The Lette-Verein, of Berlin, also exhibits laundered articles in the Woman's Building.

One branch of domestic economy which is finely illustrated is the care of children. In the western end of the Children's Building is a large room occupied by the Fitch Creche and Training School for Nursery Maids. It is fitted up with bassinets and cribs of various styles, one crib being suspended from the ceiling, while on the floor is a square inclosure in which a baby may be safely left to creep about without watching. Here a class of girls is learning the proper care of infants under competent instruction, and here mothers may leave their babies to be cared for through the day while they are seeing the fair. The creche is an exhibit of the Kindergarten Society of Buffalo. Let no one imagine that sightseers are allowed to wander at will through the room; they can only look in through a glass partition. The middle of the Children's Building is occupied by a gymnasium and there is a playground on the roof, each being suitably fitted up. On the second floor are several rooms in which kindergarten, sloyd, and other classes are taught. Children's books and papers are shown in the library. In connection with the rearing of children it is perhaps appropriate to mention a collection of photographs of children whose mothers have gone through college, shown in the British educational exhibit. This in refutation of the assertion that college education unfits young women for motherhood.

Ornamental needlework occupies much space at the fair, but useful articles made with the needle are few. In the woman's room of the Illinois Building is a large and attractively arranged case of children's clothing, called the Lilliputian bazaar. Here and in the Woman's Building are a number of women's inventions to facilitate needlework. The women of Manitoba, together with their embroidery and fancy work, send a creditable display of plain sewing and knitted articles. A similar exhibit comes from Uruguay, and, strange to say, is placed in the Agricultural Building, in the space assigned to that country. It is evident that sewing is being made a subject of school instruction in many parts of the United States and also in other countries. The various educational exhibits contain many samples of sewing and mending done by schoolgirls, and the subject is mentioned in a large number of school programmes. Samples of simple millinery, as well as of sewing, appear in the exhibit of the Workingmen's School, of New York. Plain needlework may be seen in the educational exhibit of Japan; also in that of the Board Schools of London. The exhibit of the Lette-Verein, already mentioned, includes plain and ornamental needlework, dressmaking, and millinery.

A few exhibits of a miscellaneous character remain to be mentioned. Three concerns show reversible window sashes, which may be turned into the room, permitting the outside of the glass to be cleaned without discomfort or danger. Among the women's inventions is a wooden roller, covered with some rough material like Turkish toweling, and designed to take up dust from carpets or hard-wood floors. It may be attached to a carpet-sweeper or trundled by a handle independently. With one of the exhibits of domestic hardware in the Manufactures Building is a water motor for driving sewing machines, fans, ice-cream freezers, etc., in any house that has a water supply. Small electric motors adapted to the same purposes are shown in the Electricity Building. These can be used wherever electricity is supplied for lighting, and some are made to be run by a galvanic battery. The water motor can be set in motion and stopped by turning a faucet, and the electro-motors by turning a switch. An interesting application of a scientific principle is seen in a cooler for food, beverages, and provisions, which the agent of a Belgian inventor has placed in the Machinery Building. It is in the form of a high dish cover, is made of tin, and covered with a cloth jacket. The jacket is kept wet by dipping into a moat containing water, and the constant evaporation from the cloth produces the cooling action of the apparatus. One of the schoolrooms in the Children's Building is a "Kitchen Garden," in which housework lessons with toys are given to very young girls. Its aim, as stated on its placards, is "to take the drudgery out of so-called menial work and elevate the home duties of women by inspiring the pupils with the right way of doing things at an age when life-long impressions and habits are formed." The lessons include waiting on the door, passing a tray, bedmaking, and a broom drill. There is an advanced course for older girls which includes cooking and laundry work. The originator of the Kitchen Garden is Miss Emily Huntington, of New York, who may be consulted daily upon the organization of industrial classes for girls.

Domestic economy has not been omitted from the list of congresses held in connection with the fair. Its congress will be held in the second week of October, under the direction of the Woman's Committee on Household Economics, in the Woman's Branch of the World's Congress Auxiliary. This committee has also been charged with the duty of presenting its subject in the agricultural, labor, sanitary, and other congresses. Unfortunately, more than half the usefulness of all the congresses has been thrown away by holding them seven miles from the center of attraction and in noisy surroundings.

After everything relating to household management has been sought out, the visitor can not resist the conviction that the exhibits at the Columbian Exposition fall very far short of what they might have been and should have been in justice to the importance of the subject. Two of the excellent exhibits of cooking processes are placed in an out-of-the-way spot. Few products of home cookery are shown, and nothing except preserves. Domestic laundry operations are not illustrated at all; laundered articles are sent from schools in England and Germany, but nothing from any American school, and no American woman has shown her skill in washing flannels without their shrinking, colored goods and embroideries without the colors running, or in putting-a gloss upon starched linens. In needlework the ornamental has buried the practical out of sight. The difference between the right and the wrong way of making a bed, of sweeping and dusting a room, of cleaning windows and woodwork, and of setting and decorating a table, might all have been illustrated to the great profit of many thousands of visitors. The difficulties in the way of such exhibits are no greater than those that have been overcome in other cases. According to the census, more than half the men of the United States engaged in gainful occupations are occupied with agriculture; and this industry is adequately represented in its special building and in many of the Western State buildings. An even larger portion of the women of this country are occupied in home management, and it might have been expected that, under the direction of the Board of Lady Managers and in the Woman's Building, some systematic representation of this important occupation would be found. But no; the women of America have preferred to be represented by their painting, their books, their embroidery, their societies for inducing other people to become wiser and better, their work as hospital nurses, by paper lampshades and indescribable things in cardboard and colored wools—by anything, in fact, that is either pretty on the one hand or mannish on the other, or is remote from every-day affairs. This criticism must not be taken as evidence of a wish to restrict women to housework alone. The real feeling of the writer can not be better expressed than by the following words from the preliminary address of the Woman's Committee on Household Economics: "It is not necessary to consider whether woman's sphere is limited to her home—it concern us to so improve the work done in the home that out of it shall come a power so well trained, by careful study of scientific and economic principles, that it will facilitate and lighten, as well as dignify, household labor."