1914 P and G White Naphtha Soap Advertisement

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 14, 1914:  Had a job this afternoon, and it lasted quite a while, too.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1914)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. .. Grandma—

You aren’t giving me much to go on here. What was the job?. . . cleaning the house? (I don’t think so , since you just completed the spring housecleaning a few days ago.). . .   pulling weeds? . . . cleaning manure out of the barn? . . . doing laundry? . . .

I’m going to go with the laundry. . . Farmers clothes get very, very dirty; and it can be a lot of work to get the stains out of overalls and other work clothes.

17 Responses

  1. Maybe the ironing had to be done, too.

  2. What day of the week was the post written, do you know? Supposedly the schedule went like this:
    Monday: Wash Day
    Tuesday: Ironing Day
    Wednesday: Sewing Day
    Thursday: Market Day
    Friday: Cleaning Day
    Saturday: Baking Day
    Sunday: Day of Rest

  3. Perhaps I should have my “laundress” use this product on Motor Man’s greasy work clothes….

  4. You got me with this ad, my mother had mentioned it a time or two – but I guess (for once) I’m just not old enough to remember her ever using it.

  5. Fels Naphtha…I have some in my laundry area right now. I can remember my Mom having it. I bought it a long time ago and there is something very nostalgic about just having it there, right by the old washboard that she used. I used it too!!! Matter of fact, I may try it again because clothes aren’t as beautifully white as they should be!!!

  6. Naptha was originally used to get rid of poison ivy chemicals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fels-Naptha

  7. I agree Sheryl not a lot to go on :) Good guess on the laundry.

  8. Soap is a good choice, Sheryl. I have sung its praises (and its faults) on my own blog.

    Soap is an old invention, so old that nobody even knows who discovered it. I can’t figure out how it even happened. Who would think such a product could be made by combining wood ashes with fat? It’s counter-intuitive.

    Also, how odd that Mondays should be chosen for the wash all around the country. I recall my mother’s sisters doing that down on the farm.

  9. Maybe a neighbor hired her to do something and it took a long time, which is good if she got paid by the hour!
    Diana xo

  10. These vintage ads are priceless! Tells us so much about that era and the mindset of advertisers towards women.

  11. Doing laundry by hand…did it for a few months back in ’91, this ad made me think of that time :-)

  12. Oh my! Sometimes they boiled the wash?

  13. I’m always surprised in old family photo’s how tidy and pressed everyone looks given there were probably no washing machines or electric irons. Gives me a whole new appreciation for my own laundry day which I usually dread. Mostly the ironing :D

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