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AshlynM's avatar

Role and history of the 1950s housewife?

Asked by AshlynM (10234points) June 19th, 2011

Does anyone know of a website or books I can buy that explain the role and history of the 1950s housewife?

I need info such as the wife’s daily routine, morning routine, how the household worked, what type of equipment and food was available back then, what was acceptable in society, what was expected of the wife, that kind of thing.

I’ve tried looking online but none of the websites have a detailed description of what I’m looking for.

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11 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

I’m sure there are plenty of members that actually lived it :)

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Maybe you can go to a bookstore and ask them to help you search for such a book.. That’s usually what I do. Kind of easier that way, they are pretty guiding. Also, librarians too! Search up keywords on the library computers and go have a look at the resulting books. Otherwise, sorry, I don’t really know any websites or books like that.

YARNLADY's avatar

I typed 1950’s housewife into my search and found dozens of good sites. Now keep in mind, these are the affluent family descriptions. The poor families lives were nothing like this.

TexasDude's avatar

You can start with this primary source material.

ETA: ...which may actually be fake.

lillycoyote's avatar

You’re looking for serious scholarship? Here are a couple of things.

Not June Cleaver

Homeward Bound: The American Families in the Cold War

Also, there was no one single, unified experience for the 1950’s house wife. Middle class, upper class, working class, white, black, immigrant women would all have had different experiences and histories of being a “1950’s housewife” if they even had the luxury of being merely a housewife and not a working woman and a housewife.

Nullo's avatar

I suspect that housewifery involves a lot in the way of looking after the house and family, as the name implies.
From what I can recall, my paternal grandmother (who housewifed from about 1932 until 1987, when her husband died) would spend her days cooking, cleaning, shopping, mending, sewing, gardening, visiting with friends and relatives, and participating in the local chapter of the Women’s Club. They had a TV and a tasteful hi-fi set, so I can only imagine that entertainment figured in someplace in the 24-hour day. Sundays would be similar, but with more Mass and less work.
Sometimes the whole extended family would go camping.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

The Illustrated History of the Housewife, 1650–1950
The great American housewife : from helpmate to wage earner, 1776–1986

If you go to your school library (if you have one) and go to HQ.141… section, you should find more materials (HQ1419 .M34 1988, HQ1410 .O36 1986, etc). You can also try to find magazines that were around in the 1950s that were focused towards women and see what they say. It’s probably going to be hard to find resources specifically on 1950s housewives, you probably have to find ones on how the role changed over time, on the rise of feminism, etc that will have some info in a few places on what it was like in the 1950s. History is reading an entire book just to find those 2 paragraphs you need.

adamwilliams's avatar

After WW2 ended, it was “necessary” to get women out of the factories they had worked in during the war, so that men could go back to work. So the act of “not” sublimating oneself to being a housewife was not politically correct. Women who wanted to keep their positions or even enter the workforce for the first time were considered pushy, manly, even lesbian whether or not they were.

zenvelo's avatar

I would look at primary sources of back copies of Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@zenvelo – That’s definitely a source of how the cultural narrative was going; the ideal, if not the reality.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@aprilsimnel @zenvelo You could probably get some Dear Abby columns to balance it out and find out what the real problems were of the day.

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