The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child, published in 1828, is a nuts-and-bolts how-to manual for home management. Crammed full of recipes, helpful hints, stain-removal techniques, parenting advice, herbal remedies, cures, and essays on the virtues of thriftiness, this slim volume became the housekeeping bible for legions of nineteenth-century wives. I myself have relied on Mrs. Child’s expertise (both in Frugal Housewife and her other books) for many small details in my Charlotte books.
In the days ahead it will be my pleasure to share with you some of Mrs. Child’s pearls of wisdom. We shall begin with her cure for chapped lips, which I am quite confident in declaring none of you have ever tried. And never will.
“EAR-WAX.—Nothing is better than ear-wax to prevent the painful effects resulting from a wound by a nail, skewer, &c. It should be put on as soon as possible. Those who are troubled with cracked lips have found this remedy successful when others have failed. It is one of those sorts of cures, which are very likely to be laughed at; but I know of its having produced very beneficial results.”
—The American Frugal Housewife, p. 116.