Monday, November 30, 2009

The “One Best Way” to Wash: A Home Economist Explains

In the early 20th century, new household technology was both accomplished and inspired by the tremendous increase in American industrial production. As in industry, mechanization and scientific management were part of a larger reorganization of work. And as in industry, efficient housekeeping was partially a response to labor unrest—both the “servant problem” and the growing disquiet of middle-class wives. A major proponent of the new housekeeping, Christine Frederick was consulting household editor for Ladies Home Journal from 1912 to 1919 and the author of numerous books and pamphlets on scientific management in the home. Frederick’s pamphlet, You and Your Laundry (1922), instructed women in the daunting complexities of washing clothes—a process comprising fifteen different steps. You and Your Laundry also illustrated the close alliance between scientific housework and consumption. Written under the sponsorship of the Hurley Machine Company, Frederick’s pamphlet frequently invoked its brand name and products. The pamphlet ended with a pitch for buying on installment, a payment plan that helped to spur consumption. Read the full article by clicking the link.

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