The Perfect Woman

Title (Cover): The Perfect Woman
Title (Title Page): Perfect Womanhood for Maidens–Wives–Mothers
Subtitle: A Book Giving Full Information On All The Mysterious And Complex Matters Pertaining To Women
Genre: Relationships/Sex
Author: Mary R. Melendy, M.D., Ph.D.
Publisher: K. T. Boland (city/state not printed)
Year: 1903
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover with illustrated paperboard cover.
Provenance: Price sticker with “$1.00” on cover. Also contained two newspaper clippings from the early 20th century (see photos below).
Contents: The Human Body; Love, Courtship and Marriage; The Organs of Generation; Female Beauty and Accomplishment; A Doctor in the Home.
From the Preface: “‘Men may rule the race, but women govern its destiny,’ is a saying that grows stronger with each advancing decade. Woman’s labors and successes, in the various fields and affairs of life, are calling daily for more and more attention. While we admire her in her new role, with her efforts toward success in society, literature, science, politics, and the arts, we must not lose sight of her most divine and sublime mission in life—womanhood and motherhood.”
Random Passage: “When an infant is sent out for exercise in the winter time, be sure that he is well wrapped. He ought to have under his cloak a knitted worsted sack; and if the weather is very cold, a shawl over all. He will then come from his walk refreshed and strengthened, for cold air is an invigorating tonic.” (from Infants—And How to Care for Them)
Notes: Based simply upon the number of secondhand copies still circulating on used-book sites, I’m gathering that The Perfect Woman was a best-seller upon its publication. The blog Nurse Ratchet’s Place has an excellent review of this supremely odd, encyclopedic yet sadly condescending guide to relationships, marriage, menstruation and motherhood.


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