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January Blog Series Round-Up

In January we looked at the different housekeeping tips that were published throughout each decade of the Twentieth Century.  This is the series end round-up, if you will. 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1951-1960

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 6 and we'll be looking at the the 1950s, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here,  for part 3 about 1921-1930 click here, for part 4 covering 1931-1940 click here, or for part 5 covering 1941-1950 click here.

This is the last part of our series on cleaning and organizing tips from days past.  By the time the 1950s came, the United States was in an economic boom.  The 1950s marked the beginning of the suburbs, there were televisions in many homes and automobiles in most driveways.  In recognition of this change, here are some retro television ads for cleaning products from the 50s.  


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1941-1950

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 5 and we'll be looking at the the WWII Era, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here, for part 3 about 1921-1930 here, or for part 4 discussing 1931-1940 click here.

World War II swept the United State radically changed the role of women, they were no longer primarily homemakers with the occasional job outside of the house.  Now they were their own breed of freedom fighters, saving the world by working in factories, growing victory gardens and patching old garments.  Yet another way that women in WWII were expected to rise to the call of duty was through caring for their own sick.  Today we will be revisiting a later issue of the Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers entitled "Home Care of The Sick"  published in 1943.  

HOME CARE OF THE SICK

ORDER

The sickroom should be kept neat at all times, with the dresser drawers and closet doors closed; window shades straigth and even; blankets folded and put away when not in use; soiled drinking glasses, used tissues , and the like removed; and medicines out of sight, in the dresser drawer.  

One must, however, guard against insisting on order to such an extent that the patient feels that he must lie absolutely still in bed to avoid disarraying the covers, or that he cannot have newspapers, magazines, or recreational materials on hand to use as his illness permits.  

CLEANING

The room should be cleaned once a day, preferably immediately after the bath and after the bed has been changed in the morning.  Rugs may be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or carpet sweeper.  Wooden floors may be cleaned with oiled mops.  Dust cloths, a fresh one every day, should be oiled, or moistened with water.  

If the floor is covered from wall to wall by matting or carpet and if the absence of electricity makes the use of a vacuum cleaner impossible, the carpet will have to be swept with a broom in the following way: First soak several newspapers in water, wring them out very dry, tear them in small pieces, and sprinkle them over the carpet.  After about five minutes sweep the floor: little dust will be raised.  

For the full text of the Bulletin click here. 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1931-1940

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 4 and we'll be looking at the the Depression Era, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here, or for part 3 about 1921-1930 here.

With the 1930s comes a new national obsession with thrift and the documents written about housekeeping seem to reflect it.  There is less material, and the percentage that discusses cleaning is comparatively minuscule.  The new topics at hand seem to be how to get the most bang for your buck and making sure that your children are not malnourished.  Because of this, we are taking a slight departure from our previous look  at the Good Housekeeping  archives to look at the Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers, "Letters From a HOmemaker to her Friend on House Cleaning" by Ella M. Cushman.  

Cornell bulletin for homemakers: Part V, Number 262 - Letters From a Homemaker to Her Friend on House Cleaning

By Ella M. Cushman

A CHAIR IS WASHED

Greenacres Farm, Saturday.

Dear Friend:

Mrs. Livingston has certainly cheered up since I saw her last.  She shampooed her large living-room rug with soap lather and it looks almost like new.  She said she really enjoyed doing it.  She decided to be experimental, too, and went so far as to try the soap lather on an upholstered chair which she has had for ten years and which had never been cleaned.  She said it was so dirty you couldn't tell what color it was, and you could hardly distinguish the pattern.  First she was careful to test the colors behind the back and found they were fast.  The top of the back was greasy where people had rested their heads, so Mrs. Livingston was afraid the soap lather might not take out this grease.  She poured some carbon tetrachloride into a saucer and with a soft brush scrubbed the soiled part until she felt sure that the grease had been cut.  In cleaning it, she used exactly the same method she used with her rug, and was particularly careful not to allow any water to soak through, as she was afraid it might rust the springs.  

When Mr. Livingston came home that night he said, "Where did you get the new chair?" 

I saw the chair myself and felt that Mr. Livingston was justified in his question.  The chair was a very good one, of solid mahogany.  Mrs. Livingston wanted to know what to do with the mahogany so it would be as clean as the upholstery, so I told her how Mrs. Broome had cleaned her varnished furniture.  When I left, she was mixing the solution and I suppose that the next time I drop in all the varnished furniture and the woodwork in the Livingston house will be clean, for Mrs. Livingston certainly does like to try new ideas.  

These are the directions Mrs. Broome gave me.  I know that she had good results:

Into a dish containing one quart of hot water, put three tablespoons of linseed oil and one tablespoon of turpentine and set this dish in a pan of hot water.  Wash the varnished surface with the mixture until all the dirt is removed, then dry and polish it with a soft dry cloth.  As soon as the mixture becomes dirty, throw it away and mix up a new solution.  

Cordially yours,

Mary Smith.  

For the complete text of this letter, and the others included in the Bulletin click here.


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1921 - 1930

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 3 and we'll be looking at the the Roaring 20s, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here or for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here.

The 20s brought with them new intensity to the debate on women's rights, many of the articles from this decade in Good Housekeeping grapple with the husband's role in housekeeping and how to balance work outside of the home with household responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and child-rearing.  I chose a less politically loaded article to stick more closely with our theme of examining cleaning techniques.  The article we will look at today is from the January 1927 issue, and is entitled "Short Cuts in Housework: From Our Readers Who Have Made Their Work Plans Work."

 

Excerpts from "SHORT CUTS IN HOUSEWORK: From Our Readers Who Have Made Their Work Plans Work" (Good Housekeeping, January, 1927) 

Under the Challenging title, "Minute, Minute, Who's Got a Minute?" one housekeeper lists her seven greatest time-saving methods of work.  Here they are:

1. "There are but twelve hours in any day -- and isn't it a short pattern?  It takes considerable contriving to turn them around so that a full day will cut to advantage, and still allow trimmings of recreation, but it can be done. 

2. "Isn't it a waste of valuable time to stand in line awaiting one's turn in the stores? I do my marketing around 8 o'clock.  Usually I'm the only customer.  I not only get prompt service, but I also get the pick of the stock -- especially at the green grocer's.  Then I come home to make the beds, which have been airing and wash the dishes which have been soaking.  

3. "Isn't it a waste of precious time to wipe the dishes and then carry them to cupboards when those same dishes must be taken out and used at the next meal?  I wash mine, put them carefully in a wire drainer, pour scalding water over them and leave them covered with a clean towel.  I wipe the silver, but that is all.  Neatly arranged, clean dishes on the drainboard do not seem 'shiftless' to me.  I use the time saved in this way to prepare, as far as possible, the next meal.  I make my mayonnaise as soon as the bowl is empty, instead of waiting until I want to mix the salad.  I mix and sift the dry ingredients for biscuits and keep this on hand.  

4. "I have learned to cut out the non-essentials.  I find that cookies, and baking powder biscuits, too, are not unattractive and taste just as good when the butter is made a little thinner and dropped from a spoon as when I rolled them out and cut them with a cooky [sic] cutter.  I know I make them much more frequently than I did, when I thought they had to be rolled.  

5.  "On Monday mornings I read my paper in the laundry, while the washing machine sings its lay.  Then, when the 8:10 trolley brings "Martha-by-the-day," the sheets are ready for her to hang out.  With this early start things dry much sooner, and she is able to finish the ironing the same day.  

6. "I straighten up the living-room and plump up the pillows before we go to bed.  This takes only a few minutes, and it helps the morale considerably in the morning.  

7. "I won't allow myself to dawdle over any task.  It can be made a habit to work briskly.  I had to force myself to speed up, at first.  But I find that I'm not so tired as when I poked.  If you sing about your work, don't retard it with a dreamy waltz."  

You can find the full text of this article and the rest of the issue here.  


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1911-1920

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 2 and we'll be looking at the second decade of the 20th century, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here.

Today's article comes to you from the April, 1919 Good Housekeeping issue.  The article is entitled "The Household Almanac: A Season for Sewing, Cleaning and Gardening." 

THE HOUSEHOLD ALMANAC

A Season for Sewing, Cleaning, and Gardening

IN APRIL begins the season when many housekeepers want to spend all their time in each of three different ways: spring sewing, spring cleaning and early gardening.  But try to plan a wise adjustment and average up the time.  On rainy days, sew. In pleasant weather, clean.  Garden a while each fine day.  You will find it a rest and a pleasant change, and the accomplishment of work will be gratifying.  Above all, allow a liberal margin for outside recreation and mental refreshment.  

FRESH vegetables are scarce, so use fresh the parsnips and salsify dug from the garden.  Try different recipes that you may get variety.  Have the garden plowed, have the lawn rolled and the perennial beds and shrubberies fixed for summer.  Transplant house-started seedlings to the cold-frames.  Plant in close rows in the frames flower seeds you wish to hurry.  Spade over the asparagus bed before the stalks begin to appear.  Take up the board walks.  Do any grafting you may have planned.

KILL the first flies and moth-millers.  If you can accomplish this you will save much further trouble.  Each month put a strong solution of washing soda, followed by clear hot water, down bathroom pipes.  Do the same thing each week in the kitchen sink.  Instead of the washing soda any one of the commercial  antiseptic solutions may be used advantageously.  See that the garbage can is in perfect condition before hot weather sets in.  If you do not find it strong enough to last through the season, discard and get another.  

THE entire contents of each clothes closet should have a day's sojourn on the line in the open, blowing air on a sunny day.  Pack them away in garment bags that come for the purpose.  In city homes, all winter garments should first be sent to the cleaner's for thorough pressing.  Garments thoroughly aired, brushed and put away early in the spring are seldom injured by moths.  Air and put away the remainder of the winter blankets and puffs, selecting a clear windy day. Put up the screens; they will help to keep out the first flies, saving much trouble later.  

THE time has gone long since when mother "did all her own sewing." The increasing excellence of the read-made garment and the real financial gain in many cases make it a serious question if many garments should be made at home.  Most mothers, however, find the make-overs are still imperative and demand personal attention.  Plan a dress parade; note the garments to be lengthened or repaired, or to be made over.  Note any new garments and materials that must be purchased before hot weather.  

THIS is an ideal month to inspect kitchen and pantry equipment.  Fill in the tableware and utensils that have been depleted by breakage.  Weed out much-worn and out-of-order utensils.  Now is the time to have the kitchen walls painted and the ceiling whitened.  You can even do the painting yourself.  Take this season to install some little improvement or new idea you have had in mind but have not taken time to accomplish.  Glass containers are ideal for holding pantry supplies.  Make the shelves shipshape and trim in their new dress. 

INSTALL an incinerator in some corner far away from trees.  It may be home-made using one and one-half yards of yard-wide, square mesh wire.  Lap over and twist the cut end.  Use a square of the same mesh and hinge it for a cover.  Fasten to the ground with a couple of bent wires.  Empty the contents of scrap-baskets and surplus paper not good enough to keep, each week, and set afire.  The debris will burn rapidly with no danger of setting anything afire.  never let burnable rubbish pile up in your cellar. 

Find the full-text of this article and the entire magazine here


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


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