During the 19th century, numerous guides such as this were published. While there were considerable changes occurring in regards to women's roles in society, there was also a movement to preserve the traditional aspects of womanhood, such as needlework, home decoration, and cooking. A strong supporter of this idea that a woman's intellect was best suited for housework was Catharine Beecher; author of American Woman's Home (1869); this movement would become known as the "cult of domesticity." These guides were written by women with the intention of "professionalizing" the level of domestic care. The Workwoman's Guide focuses on the basic principles and techniques of needlework and sewing, containing "instructions to the inexperienced in cutting out and completing those articles of weaving apparel which are usually made at home.
This image depicts the tradition of older women instructing younger females. Even with the increased accessibility of inexpensive fabrics and household linens, many women were still producing their own domestic linens. Most girls began their needlework at age five or six illustrated by the presence of very young girls in the background. Commitment to home and family in the 19th century was believed to be based in Christian traditions. A biblical verse below the image supports this idea: "She stretcheth out her hand to the Poor- She looketh well to the ways of her household." (Proverbs, Chapter 31)