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August 18, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

A WOMAN'S PLACE: Yesterday's Women in Rural America by Norton Juster (Fulcrum: $20.95, 320 pp., illustrated, paperback original). During the second half of the 19th century, a substantial portion of Americans lived on farms or in small towns. Juster has compiled an intriguing anthology of poems, stories, articles, recipes and helpful hints, culled from "The Household" and other popular magazines of that era, designed to help women face dreary hours of cleaning, cooking and sewing.

Much of the material seems impossibly removed from urban life in the late 1990s, e. g., "So much depends upon the woman that we might almost pronounce the happiness or unhappiness of the home to be woman's work." (John Fraser in "Youth's Golden Cycle," 1885).

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