Here at Downtown Homestead, we are committed not just to urban homesteading, but also to the heritage of homesteading. We have an extensive collection of homesteading books from the US Library of Congress, along with books from other sources, which we are making available here to download, to read and to share, 100% FREE.
These books offer us an invaluable bank of knowledge. Sure, as an urban homesteader you may not have 100 acres to tend to, but you should be able to translate some of the skills in the books into useful knowledge for your journey.
Butchers, Packers, and Sausage Makers Red Book This book is from 1913 and provides many old recipes to making your own cured meats and instructions on how to make your own sausage. You might find some great forgotten recipes in this book.
Balanced Meals with Recipes This is a 1917 collection of recipes, food drying tips, and cold pack canning procedures put together by the Lakeview Women’s Club. Some good bread and biscuit recipes in here as well. I highly recommend the deviled olive sandwich on page 72.
Canning, Drying and Preserving Eggs by the Ohio Branch Council of National Defense was published in 1917 and offers many great tips on how to properly preserve food when you don’t have access to proper refrigeration.
Making your own vinegar, cider and preservatives This guide book explains not just how to make vinegar, but also explains in detail how to preserve things like vegetables, meats, fish and eggs. These skills are often forgotten, or overlooked, but you can learn them here, and incorporate them into your homesteading life, whether off the grid on 100 acres or in an urban environment.
Preserving Vegetables by Salting, Drying, and Storing This book from 1918 by the US Food Administration, Division of Home Conservation is a great guide on how to store vegetables long term, without having refrigeration, food preservative chemicals, or anything like that.
Bulb Gardening This book from the Cornell University Library is about how to properly start bulb growing. It includes beautiful hand drawn illustrations, along with great bulb gardening instructions. This book will provide great instructions, along with a glimpse of how to garden without all the chemicals.
Productive Plant Husbandry This book from 1917 by Kary C. Davis is a definitive guide to the practice of plant husbandry. This book offers a guide to raising productive and healthy crops. No GMOs needed, but just good old fashioned gardening.
Greenhouse Construction: a Complete Guide This book from 1894 by L. R. Taft explains in detail how to build a fully functioning greenhouse without all the fancy modern items people want for greenhouses in the modern day. No electricity, no fancy watering systems, just good quality growing conditions.
Canning in the South This is a turn of the century informational booklet about the canning industry in the south, it offers not just a perspective of the industry then, but also discusses in-depth about the methods of canning used. This booklet also contains some great vintage advertisements.
Canning and Preserving This is a book from 1893 on how to can and preserve food without refrigeration. Besides classic canning and preserving, this book contains great recipes for catsups, jellies, jams, flavored vinegar, and pickling.
Composting This isn’t a vintage homesteading book, but it is an ebook of our composting guide, available for free download.
Deadfalls and Snares This book from 1907 teaches the reader how to make basic traps for sma animals. Not a skill often needed in Urban Homesteading, but useful if you ever want to go camping and want to live off the land. Make sure if you want to try this you comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws.
Primitive Shelters This 6 page booklet will help you have the knowledge to build primitive shelters in any conditions. While it isn’t an old booklet, the skills taught in it are beneficial and can help you survive in an emergency situation.
How to Build a Water Snare This booklet teaches people how to build various water snares. This skill is beneficial but also a lost skill for many. No matter your knowledge, this booklet can help you sharpen your skills.