Women Working Harvard Libraries Women Working Home

Teacher Resources

Kitchens, Conveniences, Cooperation, Consumption

Featured Sources

  A Well-Lighted House, from Farm Homes In-doors and Out-doors (1881) by E. H. Leland.
"A Well-Lighted House," from Farm Homes In-doors and Out-doors (1881) by E. H. Leland.
  This Plan and Book
Fig 4. A Well-Lighted House
Catalog record

More Plans from This Book
Fig 6. "for a small family"
Fig 8. "awaits an added parlor"
Fig 10. "a western farmhouse"

"A Milk Cupboard"
"A Home-Made Butter Worker", in Halsted,
Household Conveniences (1884)

"De Laval Cream Separators," in:
The Ladies' Home Journal (1907)

"Milk and Butter", in Beecher,
Motherly Talks with Young Housekeepers (1873)
"Dairy and Bacon", in Martineau,
Our Farm of Two Acres (1865)
"The Dairy-Room"
"Farm Neighborhoods", in Leland,
Farm Homes (1881)

Click on the links in the right-hand column above for materials that describe, among other things, how large kitchens, pantries, and milk rooms and the equipment they contained supported women's roles as food producers on their own farms and in their own households.

The pamphlet below advertised a beater intended to help housewives prepare meals more efficiently. Click the links in the right-hand column below for other tools and spaces designed to save women's time and energy.

  Use the Tivolia beater :a woman's practical invention, [18--].   This Trade Catalog
Read more
Catalog record

More Advertising
"Women Spare Yourselves, " 1900
"Ideal Steam Cooker," 1903 in
Woman's Home Companion

"The 'Universal' Bread Maker," "Food Chopper," "Cake Maker" 1905, in: The Ladies' Home Journal

Illustrations in Books
"A Convenient Arrangement," and "Hot Water Within Easy Reach", in Dodd, The Healthful Farmhouse, 1911

"Compartment Sink, Open," and "Compartment Sink, Closed", in Kellogg, Science in the Kitchen, [190-]

"A Poorly-Arranged Kitchen," and "The Same Kitchen, Properly Arranged", in Wellman, Food Study, 1917

"A Handy Waiter", in Kellogg, Science in the Kitchen, [190-]
"Kitchen Conveniences", in White, Housekeepers and Home-Makers, 1888
  From, Use the Tivolia beater: A Woman's Practical Invention, [18--].
From Use the Tivolia Beater: A Woman's Practical Invention, [18--].
  "Domestic Architecture as Woman's Occupation", in Candee, How Women May Earn a Living, 1900

All unpaid household work


  From Women of the Future (1916) by Meta Lilienthal.   This Text
Read more
Catalog record
  From Women of the Future (1916) by Meta Lilienthal.
From From Women of the Future, (1916) by Meta Lilienthal.
  More Texts
Introduction, August Bebel, Woman in Socialism, 1910
"The Changing Status of Women", in Ellis, The Task of Social Hygiene, 1912
"Changes Socialism Would Bring", in Simons, Woman and the Social Problem, 1899
"The External Results of the Woman Movement", in Key, The Woman Movement, 1912
"Consumption (I)", in Gilman, Human Work, 1904

All Socialism

Some women and men believed that a few cooks working together in a central facility could prepare better-quality meals more efficiently than many individuals laboring in even the best-equipped separate kitchens. They hoped their proposals would free many women to choose other kinds of work. Arguments for and experiments in socialized and cooperative domestic work are featured above and below. Click the links in the right-hand column for additional examples.

  Community Kitchen, New York City, from For God, For Country, For Home (1920) by Bessie Rowland James.
"Community Kitchen, New York City," from For God, For Country, For Home, (1920) by Bessie Rowland James.
  This Photograph and Book
"Community Kitchen, New York City, " in Bessie R. James,
For God, For Country, For Home (1920)
Catalog record

More Photographs from This Book
"School Children in Community Kitchen"
"Demonstration Centre, TX" | "Community Cannery, NC"
"Community Cannery, inside" | "Canning Kitchen, NY"

Text from this book
Home Economics in the War


  From The Rumford Kitchen Leaflets, 1899.   This Magazine and Photograph
Read more
"The New England Kitchen (2)"
Catalog record

More Photographs from This Magazine
"The New England Kitchen (1)"
"The New England Kitchen (3)"
"Lunch Room in the Rumford Kitchen"
  The New England Kitchen, Pleasant Street, Boston, from The Rumford Kitchen Leaflets (1899) No. 17.
"The New England Kitchen, Pleasant Street, Boston," from The Rumford Kitchen Leaflets,No. 17 (1899).
"Cooperative Housekeeping," in
The World's Congress of Representative Women (1894)
"Public Kitchens," in Mary Abel,
Successful Family Life on the Moderate Income (1921)
"Food and Living Services," in Elizabeth Adams,
Women Professional Workers (1921)
"Can Land Be Overloaded?," in,
Housing and Town Planning (1914)

With words and with house plans, others argued against these socialist proposals. They thought women living in even the smallest houses should stay home and cook for their families in individual kitchens. Click on the links in the right-hand column below for more examples.

  Albany Home Building Co. (Albany, NY), Plan 1, c. 1903. From the housing category of the Social Museum Collection.
Albany Home Building Co., (Albany, NY), Plan 1, c. 1903, from the housing category of Harvard's Social Museum Collection.
  This Plan
Catalog record

More Plans
"A Seashore Bungalow," (1915), and
"A Five-Hundred Dollar Cottage," (1899), in:
Woman's Home Companion

"A Complete Small Suburban House," (1907),
"A $3500 Shingle House," (1896), and "A Small House..., by Frank Lloyd Wright," (1901), in:
The Ladies' Home Journal

Harvard's Social Museum Collection
(Browse, "Architectural drawings" and "Housing plans")

"Wonderful Range with Three Ovens...less than four feet long," (1921),
"Now Serving 2,000,000 Homes," (1915), and
"Low Fuel Cost," (1903), in:
Woman's Home Companion

"The Western Electric Toaster," (1903), in:
To Lighten the Labor of Your Home, (1919?)

Food manufacturers and advertisers offered other ways to help women save time in their kitchens.

"The modern housewife has been forced by these industrial and economic changes into even a more responsible position [than that of producer], that of spender and buyer—she has become the purchasing agent of the home and of society," wrote Christine Frederick in The New Housekeeping (1924). "It took manual labour and skill to supply the needs of her family with her own hands 50 years ago; but it takes more thought and intelligence to purchase for the needs of her family by wise expenditure at the present day."

For more materials on women as consumers, click the links in the right-hand column below.

  Malta-Vita Pure Food Co. Advertisement from The Woman's Home Companion (March 1903).
Malta-Vita Pure Food Co. Advertisement from The Woman's Home Companion, (March 1903).
  This Advertisement
View ad
Catalog record

More Advertising
"Back of every housekeeper," (Campbell's)
"Here's a meal already cooked," (Heinz)
"Perfection," (Quaker Oats)
"Particular people, previous to trying them, always had special soup stock prepared at home," (Libby's Premier Soups), in: Woman's Home Companion

"A Nutritious Food-Drink," (Horlick's Malted Milk), and
"The women hold the health of the entire community," (Shredded Wheat), in: The Ladies' Home Journal (1904)

"Possibilities in sight,", in Ellen Richards,
The Cost of Shelter (1905)

"Nothing to Do in the Home...How far is this true?"
in John Martin, Feminism (1916)

All consumerism


Selected Bibliography for Kitchens, Conveniences, Cooperation, Consumption

Adams, Annmarie. Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870-1900. Buffalo: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996.

This study focuses on England, but Adams discusses parallel trends in the United States and points out some differences. On pages 99-101 she says late-19th-century American women "were encouraged to make extensive renovations to their homes, including substantial changes to the plans of their houses." She specifically cites Helen Dodd and her book The Healthful Farmhouse.

Hayden, Dolores. The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1981.

In part III, "Cooperative Housekeeping," see especially chapter 4, "Housewives in Harvard Square," where the Cambridge Cooperative Housekeeping Society is featured. The New England Kitchen and the Rumford Kitchen are discussed in part IV, chapter 8, "Public Kitchens, Social Settlements, and the Cooperative Ideal." In part V, "Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Her Influence," see especially chapter 10, "Community Kitchens and Cooked Food Services." And in part VI, "Backlash," see especially chapter 13, "Madame Kollontai and Mrs. Consumer," where Christine Frederick, author of The New Housekeeping, appears on pages 285-289.

McMurry, Sally. Families and Farmhouses in Nineteenth-Century America: Vernacular Design and Social Change. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997.

See chapter 4, "The Spheres Diverge: Work on the Progressive Farmstead, 1855-1885," especially pages 99-104 and 111-118, which describe how kitchen design reflected changes in women's roles, responsibilities, and ambitions.

Wright, Gwendolyn. Moralism and the Model Home: Domestic Architecture and Cultural Conflict in Chicago, 1873-1913. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Plans published in The Ladies' Home Journal, including those by Frank Lloyd Wright, are discussed on pages 136-140 of chapter 4, "The Homelike World." In chapter 5, "Model Housewives and Model Houses," Mrs. Coleman Stuckert's cooperative housekeeping project and the Rumford Kitchen are included (page 152) in a discussion of the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.

Return to Teacher Resources