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Housekeeping and Hygiene

Photographs

These photographs show, among other things, the teaching of housekeeping skills and hygiene standards, a focus of widespread concern during the Progressive Era and in the settlement house movement. Click on the photograph to view larger images or to magnify image details, or click the links in the right-hand column for more related photographs from the Social Museum Collection.

  Washing Lesson, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Association.
"Washing Lesson," c. 1900, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Association
 
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Washing
Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Association
Social settlements

From the Social Museum Collection.
 

  Housekeeping class, Kingsley House, Pittsburgh, Social Museum Collection.
"Housekeeping Class," c. 1900, Kingsley House, Pittsburgh.
 
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Housekeeping
Kingsley House
Social settlements

From the Social Museum Collection.
 

  Cooking class, Calhoun Colored School, and Social Settlement, Calhoun Alabama, Social Museum Collection.
"Cooking Class," c. 1900, Calhoun Colored School, and Social Settlement, Calhoun Alabama.
 
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Calhoun Colored School
Social settlements

From the Social Museum Collection.
 

Text and Images

The passage below is part of a longer description of the settlement worker's experience and environment. "If the people whom she has elected to help were cultivated, refined, and highly moral, there would be no need for her presence among them. She will find immorality, dirt, disease, unthrift, and all the faults that produce poverty and misery." Instruction in domestic science was expected to address the physical conditions settlement workers encountered; because physical and moral hygiene were inseparable in people's minds, it was also favored as a remedy for less tangible problems. Click on the excerpt to page through the book, or click the links in the right-hand column for more related texts and photographs.

  From Helen Churchill Candee, How Women May Earn a Living, New York: Macmillan and Co., 1900.
From Helen Churchill Candee, How Women May Earn a Living, New York: Macmillan & Co., 1900.
  This Text
Catalog record

Related Photographs
A Resident's Room
Polish Family
Typical Italian Courtyard

Texts: Settlements
The Burden of the City, 1904
The House on Henry Street, 1904
Settlement Work as a Vocation for Women, 1912
20 Years at Hull-House, 1912

Texts: More Domestic Lessons
Housekeeping Notes, 1911
Welfare Work, 1923
Home Industry is Culture, 1914
All home economics

People
Jane Addams
Florence Kelley
 

Advertising

Some middle-school students who examined these materials thought the illustration below expressed for both the advertiser and the broader society, including settlement leaders, the expectation that soap would make young people polite, dainty, whiter, and more American, as well as clean. The links in the right-hand column lead to more advertisements for soap and more evidence of its cultural significance.

  Acme Soap, Lautz Bros. and Co. (n.d.), Buffalo, New York.
Acme Soap, Lautz Bros. & Co. (n.d.), Buffalo, New York.
  More Advertising
John Anderson, My Jo
What a Cake of Soap Will Do
All trade catalogs

"Fairy Soap Purity"
Souvenir Program of the Ninth Biennial Convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1907)

"Think of Soap" (1907), Ladies' Home Journal
"Packer's Tar Soap" (1903), Ladies' Home Journal
All magazines

Price Lists
"Laundry Soaps, Etc."
"Toilet Department: Soaps"
S. S. Pierce, Importers and Grocers [1886]
Cobb, Bates & Yerxa Retail Price List [1889]
 
  Use Acme Soap, Lautz Bros. and Co. (n.d.), Buffalo, New York, verso of trade card.   Texts
"The Soap Industry"
Elementary Industrial Arts (1922)
"Report on Hygiene and Physical Culture"
Report of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union (1881)
 

 

Selected Bibliography for Housekeeping and Hygiene

Bushman, Richard L. and Claudia L. Bushman. "The Early History of Cleanliness in America." The Journal of American History 74.4 (March 1988): 1213-1238.

Through 1900. In the last six pages, the Bushmans discuss the interaction of cultural and economic forces in the industrial production of soap and in soap manufacturers' advertising.

Lasch-Quinn, Elisabeth. Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement, 1890-1945. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Lasch-Quinn discusses Calhoun Colored School and Social Settlement on pp. 83-100.

Mohun, Arwen P. Steam Laundries: Gender, Technology, and Work in the United States and Great Britain, 1880-1940. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Chapter 1, "Technical and Cultural Origins" pp. 29-39, "Making a Cleaner Society."

Rury, John L. "Vocationalism for Home and Work: Women's Education in the United States, 1880-1930." History of Education Quarterly 24.1 (Spring 1984): 21-44.

Rury discusses the home economics movement on pp. 22-29.

Valverde, Mariana. The Age of Light, Soap, and Water: Moral Reform in English Canada, 1885-1925. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, Inc., 1991.

"The economic and cultural developments that form the background to the reform movement analysed here were not unique to Canada: similar developments in the northeastern United States and in urban Britain have been described by many historians" (16). Valverde links the practical uses and symbolic significance of soap in interesting and unusual ways.

Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience. 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994.

In Chapter 12, "The Rise of the New Woman, 1860-1920": "Social Housekeepers," pp. 298-302; "Educated Homemakers," pp. 292-298. Chapter 11, "The Founding of Hull-House," pp. 253-268. Other editions of Woloch's book were published in 1984 and 2000, and it is widely available in libraries.

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