Wednesday, November 17, 2021

by Emilyn Linden

This week I decided to put together a list of books focused on reviving traditional skills that can help us reduce waste and our environmental footprint. While I was looking for books for that list, I came across an interesting book in our collection. How To Do Things: a compendium of new and practical farm and household devices, helps, hints, recipes, formulas, and useful information from the Farm Journal was printed in 1919 for rural residents. The copy we have is for rural Fond du Lac county residents and includes a directory of local farm supply businesses. It contains such helpful information as how to milk a cow by hand and a section called “The New Farm Helper -- Electricity.” If you’re interested in taking a look at what the Farm Journal thought rural residents should know around 1920, the book is in the local history section on the second floor of the library.

I've been interested in traditional skills for a few years now because they are often less wasteful (and less expensive). It seems like many Gen Xers and younger are interested in learning the skills we used to see our grandparents perform and are looking for ways to acquire them. I watch Youtube videos to get information about specific skills, but I also browse the books in our collection and in the Wisconsin Digital Library for ideas since I often don’t know what I don’t know. If you, too, are looking to learn a thrifty new skill or hobby, these books contain some great ideas for heritage skills, sometimes with a modern twist.

Books in the Library

Little House Living by Merissa Alink

Beginner’s Guide to DIY & Home Repair by Jo Behari and Alison Winfield-Chislett 

Home Ec for Everyone by Sharon and David Bowers

Shop Class for Everyone by Sharon and David Bowers

The Useful Book by David and Sharon Bowers

How to Sew a Button by Erin Bried

Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide by Jim Cobb

Do-it-yourself by Mike Collins, David Holloway, Brenda Legge, Diane Carr

The Back to Basics Handbook by Abigail Gehring

Self-sufficiency by Abigail Gehring

Who Knew? by Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Homegrown & Handmade by Deborah Niemann

Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini

100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (As We Know It) by Ana Maria Spagna

Self-sufficiency for the 21st Century by Dick Strawbridge and James Strawbridge



Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell

The Modern-Day Pioneer by Charlotte Denholtz

Urban Homesteading by Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume

Heritage Skills for Contemporary Life by Elizabeth Miller

Smithsonian Makers Workshop

Emilyn Linden is a librarian in the FDL Public Library Information and Outreach Services department