Less Work For Mother?

Modern technology enables the housewife to do much more in the house than ever before. That’s good- and not so good.

Things are seldom what they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream. And laborsavine household appliances often do not save labor. This is the surprising conclusion reached by a small army of historians, sociologists, and home economists who have undertaken, in recent years, to study the one form of work that has turned out to be most resistant to inquiry and analysis—namely, housework.

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The Fuller Brush Man

Connoisseurs have long regarded him as the master of cold-turkey peddling. He’s been at it for eighty years.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, a doorbell would ring almost anywhere in America, a housewife would run to answer it, and there would stand a wellgroomed, smiling gentleman. “I’m your Fuller Brush Man,” he would say, stepping back deferentially. “And I have a gift for you.” It was the famous Handy Brush. “I’ll just step in a moment,” he would go on, scooping up his sample case and kicking off his rubbers (which were, by intention, bought a size too large so they would slip off easily).Read more »

Edward Bok & The Simple Life

At the turn of the century, a crusading magazine editor exhorted women to seek peace of mind and body through simplicity. For a generation, they listened.

FOR THE THIRTY YEARS between 1889 and 1919, Edward Bok and the magazine he edited—Ladies’ Home Journal—exerted a profound influence over middle-class American values. His message was direct: The Simple Life was joyous and good, and too many Americans, seduced by the clutter and false values of Victorian materialism, had drifted away from it. Read more »

Southern Women & The Indispensable Myth

How the mistress of the plantation became a slave

“WE’RE USED to living around ‘em. You Northerners aren’t. You don’t know anything about ‘em.” This is or was the allpurpose utterance of white Southerners about blacks. Everybody from Jefferson Davis to Strom Thurmond has said it, in some version, at one time or another. Turned on its obverse, the old saw means, “You can’t know how bad they are.Read more »