The American Girls Handy Book:

How to Amuse Yourself and Others

four Handy Books sale price: $42.00 (Regularly $57.80)

Explore, hike, discover, be crafty and have fun with friends or alone, indoors or outside! Written for children in 1893, and valuable for both kids and adults today, here’s a magical cornucopia of projects, devices, toys, gifts, dolls, recipes, decorations, perfumes, wax and clay modeling, oil and water-color painting and games, all with clear and practical directions for how to make and play them. Vintage Americana by the Beard sisters, two of the founders of the girls scouting movement.

In the Beard sisters’ version, ‘the American girl’ ranges in age from eight to eighteen. Healthy and spirited, she thinks nothing of taking a ten-mile ‘romp’ through woods and fields with a group of friends, and collects flowers and leaves for preservation or presentation to friends and relations. Above all, however, the Beards’ girl is handy. She can make a hat rack, a screen, or a bookshelf; fashion a macrame hammock or a cornhusk doll; and draw, paint, sculpt, or decorate a room. The American Girls Handy Book, in short, by emphasizing what girls can do, presents a portrait of girlhood that is vigorous, active, and full of possibilities.
—From the foreword by Anne M. Boylan


Lina Beard was the sister of Adelia Beard and Daniel Beard. With her sister, Lina co-founded the first American girls’ scouting group, known originally as the Girl Scout Society, then the Girl Pioneers, and finally as the Camp Fire Girls. She was greatly interested in equal franchise for women and was a member of the Equal Franchise Society of Flushing. Lina and Adelia co-authored several books together, the most well-known of which is The American Girls’ Handy Book.

Adelia Beard was the sister of Lina Beard and Daniel Beard. With her sister, Adelia co-founded the first American girls’ scouting group, known originally as the Girl Scout Society, then the Girl Pioneers, and finally as the Camp Fire Girls. She also contributed funds to the Good Citizenship League. Lina and Adelia co-authored several books together, the most well-known of which is The American Girls Handy Book.

Anne M. Boylan is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States and of women and gender, and holds a joint appointment with the Department of Women and Gender Studies.