From Library Journal
A sweeping survey of the changing image and perception of the housewife in America from colonial times to the present, this groundbreaking book provides an essential historical backdrop to Betty Friedan's classic The Feminine Mystique (1963). Using novels, letters, popular magazines, and cookbooks, the author demonstrates how the 19th-century cult of domesticity heightened the esteem accorded housewives. By contrast, industrialization, the growth of a consumer culture, and the emergence of professional experts in home economics transformed the nature of housework and led to its devaluation. By the 1920s, the factors to make the life of the housewife one of emptiness and dissatisfaction were already in place. For informed laypersons and scholars. Marie Marmo Mullaney, History Dept., Caldwell Coll., N.J.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"Excellent--not only for the information content, but for the intriguing thesis regarding the concept of "just a housewife." Good introduction, too, to women's history in a survey course."--E.H. McKinley, Asbury College
"A lively account of changing views of the housewife and the home from the colonial period through the 1960s....Matthews' portrayal of the currents surrounding the nineteenth-century household are fresh and convincing."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"It is the intriguing story of the ascendancy of the housewife in the American home that sets Glenna Matthews' original book apart....Her experience and good common sense enliven, and enrich, this valuable study. One looks forward to her next book."--The Washington Post Book World
"A sweeping survey of the changing image and perception of the housewife in America from colonial times to the present...groundbreaking."--Library Journal
"A fascinating study that is sure to be of interest to a general audience, as well as to subject specialists."--Booklist
"A fascinating and significant guide to the history of housewifery in the United States."--Kathryn Kish Sklar, State University of New York, Binghamton
"An understanding and insightful book on America's homes and the women who, over the years, sustained them....It is especially valuable at just this point in history when the old time domesticity is passing from the American scene and a new domesticity is struggling to be born."--Carl Degler, Stanford University
"A rich compendium of anecdotes and information on American housekeeping from 1750 to the present."--New England Quarterly
"Matthews has done an excellent job of synthesizing recent scholarship on the conditions surrounding the development of domesticity....A provocative book. It may anger some scholars. It will certainly fascinate many. The author has done a fine job of producing a book with a bold argument that will keep scholars busy for a while. Matthews is to be commended for her willingness to put forth her ideas about domesticity and gender politics and for her lively use of language."--History of Education Quarterly