Every so often an item from our archive catches our attention and demands to be shared. Today, that item is a pink and ivory folder from the United States Department of Agriculture titled Packet for the Bride. This folder comes from our John Dowdy collection and includes ten individual booklets about various domestic subjects.
This particular packet was published in 1967, but others like it were available to American brides and bridegrooms throughout the ‘60s. These documents were available for free by request from the USDA’s Office of Information. Each folder provides guides to help ease the stress of newlyweds cohabitating for the first time by collecting knowledge about laundry sanitation, budgeting, and buying food. Nutrition is one of the packet’s focuses; the pamphlets inside give advice on using USDA food grades, selecting fruits and vegetables, and creating healthy meals. They also have tips on identifying fresh produce and choice meats by color and consistency as well as more esoteric information about the particulars of agricultural economics. Knowing market supply and demand, Tips on Selecting Fruits and Vegetables advises, can lead to more efficient and affordable grocery shopping.
Affordability is a major concern for most new couples, and A Guide to Budgeting for the Young Couple gives practical advice on “setting up and using a simple workable budget – one evolved from your own experience, tailored to your income and situation, and geared to your individual goals.” This pamphlet is surprisingly forward-thinking and emphasizes that marriage is a partnership. Couples are encouraged to consider each other’s desires and make money management a joint venture. The pamphlet even gives practical recommendations on cutting costs and adjusting plans as incomes change.
The nuances of purchasing instant nonfat dry milk also get their own booklet, but the packet’s overall goal is to help young couples succeed at married life. Even though some of the specifics are dated, most of the pamphlets give practical advice that’s still relevant to a modern marriage. If someone you know is getting hitched this month (which is statistically very likely), consider pointing them to the Baylor Collections of Political Materials to take a look at this unique and practical piece of history.