Beginning with a fascinating genealogy of the Royal Institution's establishment (led by Joseph Banks, Count Rumford, and Thomas Bernard), Part One of Klancher's book focuses on "Questions of the Arts and Sciences." In five chapters and a groundbreaking Introduction, Klancher delves into the public, political, social, and intellectual dimensions of these popular institutions' diverse programs for improving and progressing modern knowledge, and why these institutions conceived of the arts as forms of knowledge.
Aspects of what would become home economics date at least to the late 1700s through the sweeping ingenuity of the American-born British loyalist Count Rumford (Sir Benjamin Thompson), a physicist and inventor.
He later moved to England, and then to Germany, where he took the name Count Rumford. Rumford served with the Bavarian army fighting the Turks, and was among the first to recognize that his men marched on their stomachs.