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"Just a Housewife": The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America Paperback – May 11, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0195059250 ISBN-10: 0195059255

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"Just a Housewife": The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America + First Generations: Women in Colonial America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 11, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195059255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195059250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,886,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"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



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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By 104364.314@compuserve.com on July 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
The concluding thought of this work is that "a successful society and successful homes are inextricably intertwined" Pivitol to my personal growth in realizing and peacefully accepting my importance at work, as an attorney, and my importance at home, as a mother, wife, and spiritual mentor for my family. Before reading this I hypothesized that the duties of home had been denegrated becuase of the struggle of women. After reading Ms. Matthews work I realized there have been many other American influences that have caused us to neglect the fundamentals of nurturing ourselves and those we love through our activities at home. The impact of this neglect is the work of others, and personally resulted in a leaking roof that had gone unrepaired for months, one inch of water on our laundry room floor, and no milk for our 2 year old in the refrigerator. Neither me nor my husband, a second year resident could take time away from "more important" responsibilities.
The most refreshing idea supported by Ms. Mathews was that the 1820s was a time in America's history, in which great thinkers (women and men)viewed the activities of home as central to raising and nurturing citizens capable of participating in a democratic form of government. WOW! Such community value for the time spent at home playing with children, fellowshiping over a nutritious home cooked meal, reading books, etc. helped me become more content and noble as I more fully engaged the responsibilities occuring at home.
This work is thick with references to other works: revisiting American history from the perspective of the institution of home, separating it from the history of gender.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By famousCook on November 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found it interesting to read the history of housewives and now I understand why we view housewives as we do now in our society. We have more freedoms as women but not honored as "just a housewife". It was interesting to read how being a housewife was once highly valued in the early nineteenth century and to see what difficult work it was (such as laundry). Also, to see how the value went down as time continued and circumstances happened. If you like history and especially history of women, read this book. Some of it was a little boring and redundant to me but overall it was interesting to me as I wasn't familiar with a lot of the ideas.
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By Carol A. Zehosky on August 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Satisfied customer, fast shipping, no problems.
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0 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dana Jenkins on May 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
My usual Amazon experience - EXCELLENT! to say the least. The order arrived in a timely manner, and gave me an excellent resource to add to my library of housework books.
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