logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

The housekeeping curriculum for girls
in British state schools in the early 1900s

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Looking back, I think that the general grounding given by the school was very sound, although it was certainly designed to prepare us girls for the sort of life we were expected to lead - to be housewives and mothers. Any education beyond the age of 14 was only for a select few - and not for me.

So there was no such thing as maths, but being able to do quick and accurate calculations in one's head was deemed a good education for future housewives. I was always good at mental arithmetic, and when the teacher gave us children a question, my hand was always the first up from my sixty odd class mates.

We were also taught to read and write, but it was only very basic.

The emphasis was on household management:

We were taught how to make a hay box and we cooked a rice pudding in it. I suppose it was a war-time effort on how to make best use of resources but it wasn't successful as far as I was concerned. Although the rice pudding was edible, anyone would have to be very pushed indeed to bother with it. I much preferred the baked rice puddings that my mother made on the kitchen range.

We girls were also shown how to grow mustard and cress on pieces of flannel in a saucer of water. I suppose that taught us some elementary biology as well as preparing us for self-help with feeding a family.

We also had needlework classes making pillowcases by hand, using what was called a 'run and fell seam'.

If you can add anything to this page, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.