“cult of efficiency" "efficiency craze."

Teddy Roosevelt 1901-08, conservation program for land, forest, water.

19thC idea of "separate spheres", man's role public & woman's private.


1700s & early 1800s division of labor.


Later 1800s – industrialization, commercialization;


Charlotte Perkins Gilman - alternatives to traditional housework;

1914 NY Feminist Alliance - "Feminist Apartment House", 170 kitchenless apartments. 

1880s NY, Boston cooked-food delivery services. 


early 1900s ideal of “domestic science” or “domestic engineering”;


new group of experts.

Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) –

MIT "special student" 1873. 

Woman's Laboratory at MIT;

MIT sanitation lab.

1873 "science to teach people how to live",

annual conferences at Lake Placid

1908 American Home Eeconomics Association.


women "call in the help of the experts".

home ec would help reduce "infant mortality, contagious diseases, divorce, insanity, & competition of labor between the sexes."

late 1800s, bacteriologists germ theory of disease.

"Contagion from the Telephone", "Disease from Public Laundries", "Do Cockroaches Cause Cancer?".

AN Medical Assn.: "establish a sanitary regime in every room in the home." Otherwise, it "will be reckoned akin to murder".

Lysol, "Even the doorknobs threaten children with disease."


"one best way" to design kitchen;

Ladies Home Journal 1912, Christine Frederick;

"if a woman undertakes homemaking as her occupation, she should make that her business, and use the time gained from effic to further prepare herself". 


1916, 20% public high schools courses in home ec.

Iowa State College, Cornell, Wisc., Illinois, Calif. - 1916, over 250 college & univ programs in home ec.

- Iowa State women admitted 1869 – trustees, "essential that young women should be educated in a manner that will qualify them to properly understand & discharge their duties as wives of farmers & mechanics.  We must teach the girls... through our Agric College to acquire by practice a thorough knowledge of the art of conducting a well-regulated household." 

Mary Welch, new curriculum –

"experimental problems in foods", "scrub lab". home management houses. Equipment study.


Toys of the Machine Age:

airplane models, chemistry set, Erector set;

radio show, "real engineers and their hair-raising adventures,"

model kitchens, sewing machines;

1920s 25% boys wanted to be engineers. 


idea of the electric house –

domestic technology big business;

1917 20% homes electrified; 1940, 90% (FDR’s Rural Electrification Administration). 

1919-1929, annual production of washing machines doubled, 66% urban population. 

1920s General Electric railroad tour;

1939 New York World's Fair - "The World of Tomorrow"


Shape of household technology not inevitable – refrigerator design; gas vs. electric;



physically easier;

1924 surveys 52 hours/week on housework; 1965 55 hours.


appliances mass produced, affordable;

Commercial canning - 1880s Heinz & Campbell;

1930s frozen foods - Clarence Birdseye.


Late 1800s almost 2000 patents filed for washing machines;

1914 first electric washing machine for home use.

automatic fillers & drains 1930s;

1940s, Levittown. 


raised expectations. 

Work saved - man's share of housework – electric stove;

New chores – bathroom;

Less household help;

"more work for mother."


auto – family chauffeur;