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American Home Life, 1880-1930

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Jessica Foy and Thomas SchlerethEdit

Thomas Schlereth is a Professor of History and a Professor of American Studies at Notre Dame. He specializes in a variety of fields, including U.S. material and visual culture, art and architecture, as well as history of science.

Jessica Foy???

American Home Life, 1880-1930: A Social History of Spaces and ServicesEdit

American Home Life is collection of essays on domestic space examining changes and developments in the home during the turn of the century--the period that marks the maturity of industrial mass production.

Points of InterestEdit

  • The lack of servants in the early 20th century (due to both availability of factory labor and various immigration holds) caused changes in the home--loss of butler pantries, music rooms, parlors, servant quarters, etc. There is a rise in sun rooms and kitchen nooks. (Volz)
  • Electricity in homes subsequently re-arranged furniture--no longer were chairs clustered around a table with an oil lamp on it--these tables were considered symbolic of the family circle (Grier); lamps moved to the perimeter of the room (to attach to outlets) and dark corners no longer exists (Volz)
  • Parlors were official social greeting rooms, rarely used except for guests and important occassions. They reflect a late 19th century interest in the 18th century European notion of gentility, "individual cultivation" based on being raised in the uppermost class (Grier). Parlors declined in the early 20th century as entertainment is engaged in outside the home--films and automobiles. Homemade entertainments diminish; telephones replace "calling".
  • Linoleum emerges in the 1870s as a luxury item (Volz).
  • Victorians employed a front-to-back arrangement in the home, public spaces up front and private, utilitarian spaces in the back (kitchens always in the back) (Grier). Early 20th century bungalow style homes changes this by dismissing the entry hall and including bedrooms on the first floor.
  • Domesticity can be defined as "a set of norms for family life, centered on a perceived dichotomy between the private household and the world beyond the boundaries of each family's private space" (53). The world of culture is to be brought within the home.
  • Gendering children's bedrooms doesn't begin until the early 20th century; Victorian and mid-centiry 19th century children were gender neutral until older

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