Saw this post and thought I’d share a piece of life during the Civil War. This is a word-for-word copy of what an Alabama grandmother gave to a new bride, with spelling errors and all.

I think it’s funny because I hear people complain all the time about having to “do wash.” Really? Putting clothes into a washer and taking them out is hard work? Most people then do the time-consuming task of taking the clothes from the washer and throwing them into the dryer. I still do that part the old-fashioned way and hang them outside or on a clothes rack inside, depending on the weather. I might use my dryer an hour a year, if that.

After reading this, I hope you agree that “doing wash” isn’t so bad a chore after all.

(FYI: For non-southerners, wrench means rinse.)


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles

1 pile white,

1 pile colored,

1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don’t boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed.

Scrub porch with hot soapy water. (Ha! Love this one)!

Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

Jessica James


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