It always amazes me how eloquent and descriptive published writers were in the past. Being a very plain writer with a straightforward way of speaking, I have always been impressed when reading old-time books!
Without further ado, here is chapter 1. I have bolded key statements.
I have skipped the next section as it is not as relevant as the section following, which describes the changing role of the home:
In our study of the modern woman movement, which as teachers in any department of educational work we are bound to make, the fact is immediately impressed upon us that home life has undergone marked changes. Conditions once favorable to the existence of the home as a sustaining economic unit are no longer to be found. New conditions have arisen, compelling the home, like other permanent institutions, to alter its mode of existence in order to meet them.
Briefly reviewing the causes which have brought about these changes in home life, we find, first, the industrial revolution. A large number of the activities once carried on in the home have removed to other quarters. In earlier times the mother of a family served as cook, housemaid, laundress, spinner, weaver, seamstress, dairymaid, nurse, and general caretaker. The father was about the house, at work in the field, or in his workshop close at hand. The children grew up naturally in the midst of the industries which provided for the maintenance of the home, and for which, in part, the home existed. The home, in those days, was the place where work was done.
With the invention of labor-saving machinery came an entire revolution in the place and manner of work. The father of the family has been forced by this industrial change to follow his trade from the home workshop to the mechanically equipped factory. One by one, many of the housewife’s tasks also have been taken from the home. To-day the processes of cloth making are practically unknown outside the factory. Knitting has become largely a machine industry. Ready-made clothing has largely reduced the sewing done in the home. In the matter of food, the housekeeper may, if she chooses, have a large part of her work performed by the baker, the canner, and the delicatessen shopkeeper. Even the care of her children, after the years of infancy, has been partly assumed by the state.
The home, as a place where work is done, has lost a large part of its excuse for being. Among the poorer classes, women, like their husbands, being obliged to earn, and no longer able to do so in their homes, have followed the work to the factory. As a result we have many thousands of them away from their homes through long days of toil. Among persons of larger income, removal of the home industries to the factory has resulted in increased leisure for the woman—with what results we shall later consider. Practically the only constructive work left which the woman may not shift if she will to other shoulders, or shirk entirely, is the bearing of children and, to at least some degree, their care in early years. The interests once centered in the home are now scattered—the father goes to shop or office, the children to school, the mother either to work outside the home or in quest of other occupation and amusement to which leisure drives her.
Photograph by Brown Bros.
Glove making. Women, like their husbands, have followed work to the factories
A second change in the conditions affecting home life is found in the increased educational aspirations of women. Once the accepted and frankly anticipated career for a woman was marriage and the making of a home. Her education was centered upon this end. To-day all this is changed. A girl claims, and is quite free to obtain, an education in all points like her brother’s, and the career she plans and prepares for may be almost anything he contemplates. She may, or may not, enter upon the career for which she prepares. Marriage may—often does—interfere with the career, although nearly as often the career seems to interfere with marriage. Under the new alignment of ideals, there is less interest shown in homemaking and more in “the world’s work,” with a decided feeling that the two are entirely incompatible.
Keystone View Co.
Employees leaving the Elgin Watch Company factory. Thousands of women are away from their homes through long days of toil
The girl, educated to earn her living in the market of the world, no longer marries simply because no other career is open to her; when she does marry, she is less likely than formerly, statistics tell us, to have children—the only remaining work which, in these days, definitely requires a home. Marriage and homemaking, therefore, are no longer inseparably connected in the woman’s mind. Girls are willing to undertake matrimony, but often with the distinct understanding that their “careers” are not to be interfered with. To them, then, marriage becomes more and more an incident in life rather than a life work.
Photograph by Brown Bros.
A typical tenement house. Congestion means discomfort within the home and decreasing possibility for satisfying there either material or social needs
A third disintegrating influence as affecting home life is the great increase of city homes. Urban conditions are almost without exception detrimental to home life. Congestion means discomfort within the home and decreasing possibility for satisfying there either material or social needs; while on every hand are increasing possibilities for satisfying these needs outside the home. Family life under such conditions often lacks, to an alarming degree, the quality of solidarity which makes the dwelling place a home. No longer the place where work is done, no longer the place where common interests are shared, the home becomes only “the place where I eat and sleep,” or perhaps merely “where I sleep.” The great increase of urban life during the last half century is thus a very real menace, and, since the agricultural communities constantly feed the towns, the menace concerns the country-as well as the city-dweller.
Photograph by Brown Bros.
In the cities there are increasing opportunities for satisfying material and social needs outside the home
Believing that for the good of coming generations the true home spirit must be saved, we shall do well to admit at once that the old-time home was an institution suited to its own day, but that we cannot now call it back to being. Nor would we wish to do so. There is no possible reason for wishing our women to spin, weave, knit, bake, brew, preserve, clean, if the products she formerly made can be produced more cheaply and more efficiently outside the home.
There is danger, however, of generalizing too soon in regard to these industries. There is little doubt that in some directions, at least, the factory method has not yet brought really satisfactory results. How many women can give you reasons why they believe that it no longer “pays” to do this or that at home as they once did? Do the factories always turn out as good a product as the housekeeper? If they do, does the housekeeper obtain that product with as little expenditure as when she made it? If she spends more, can she show that the leisure she has thus bought has been a wise purchase? Is she justified in accepting vague generalizations to the effect that it is better economy to buy than to make, or should she test for herself, checking up her individual conditions and results?
The fact is that the pendulum has swung away from the “homemade” article, and most of us have not taken the trouble to investigate whether we are benefited or harmed. It may be that investigation will show us that the pendulum has swung too far, and that, in spite of factories mechanically equipped to serve us, some work may be done much more advantageously at home. It is even possible, and in some lines of work we know that it is a fact, that homes may be mechanically equipped at very little cost to rival and even to outclass the factory in producing certain kinds of products for home consumption.
Spinning, weaving, and knitting are doubtless best left in the hands of the factory worker. But, under present conditions, buying ready made all the garments needed for a family may be an expensive and unsatisfactory method if the elements of worth, wear, finish, and individuality are worthy of consideration, just as buying practically all foodstuffs “ready made” presents a complex and disturbing problem to the fastidious and conscientious housewife. There is at least a possibility that it would be as well for the home of to-day to retain or resume, systematize, and perfect some of the industries that are slipping or have already slipped from its grasp. It is possible to reduce some processes to a too purely mechanical basis.
Keystone View Co.
Linen-mill workers. Spinning and weaving, whether of cotton, linen, silk, or wool, are more satisfactorily done by factory workers than in the home
A woman lived in our town
who wasn’t very wise.
She had a reputation for making homemade pies.
And when she found her pies would sell,
with all her might and main
She opened up a factory, and spoiled it all again.
Nonsense? Yes—but with a strong element of sense, nevertheless.
Entirely aside, however, from the industrial status of the home, unless we are to see a practical cessation of childbearing and rearing, homes must apparently continue to exist. No one has yet found a substitute place for this particular industry. It is a commonly accepted fact that young children do better, both mentally and physically, in even rather poor homes than in a perfectly planned and conducted institution. And we need go no farther than this in seeking a sufficient reason for saving the home. This one is enough to enlist our best service in aid of homemaking and home support.
From earliest ages woman has been the homemaker. No plan for the preservation of the home or for its evolution into a satisfactory social factor can fail to recognize her vital and necessary connection with the problem. Therefore in answer to the question “What ought woman to be?” we say boldly, “A homemaker.” Reduced to simplest terms, the conditions are these: if homes are to be made more serviceable tools for social betterment, women must make them what they ought to be. Consequently homemaking must continue to be woman’s business—the business of woman, if you like—a considerable, recognized, and respected part of her “business of being a woman.” Nor may we overlook the fact that it is only in this work of making homes and rearing offspring that either men or women reach their highest development. Motherhood and fatherhood are educative processes, greater and more vital than the artificial training that we call education. In teaching their children, even in merely living with their children, parents are themselves trained to lead fuller lives.
“The central fact of the woman’s life—Nature’s reason for her—is the child, his bearing and rearing. There is no escape from the divine order that her life must be built around this constraint, duty, or privilege, as she may please to consider it.” It is the fashion among some women to assume that it is time all this were changed, and that therefore it will be changed. They look forward to seeing womankind released from this “constraint, duty, or privilege,” and yet see in their prophetic vision the race moving on to a future of achievement. The fact, however, ignore it as we may, cannot be gainsaid: no man-made or woman-made “emancipation” will change nature’s law.
It was well that after centuries of repression and subjection woman sought emancipation. She needed it. But the wildest flight of fancy cannot long conceal the ultimate fact. Woman is the mother of the race. “The female not only typifies the race, but, metaphor aside, she is the race.” Emancipation can never free her from this destiny. In the United States, where woman has the largest freedom to enter the industrial world and maintain herself in entire independence, the percentage of those who marry is higher than in the countries where woman is a slave. Ninety per cent of the mature women in our country become homemakers for a certain period, and probably over 90 per cent are assistant homemakers for another period of years before or after marriage.
Any vocational counselor who fails to reckon first with the homemaking career of girls is therefore blind to the facts of life. All education, all training, must be considered in its bearing on the one vocation, homemaking. The time will come when the occupations of boys and men must likewise be considered in relation to homemaking, but that problem is not the province of this book.
Women will bear and rear the children of the future, just as they have borne and reared the children of the past. But under what conditions—the best or those less worthy? And what women—again, the best or those less worthy? Has woman been freed from subjection, from an inferior place in the scheme of life, only to become so intoxicated with a personal freedom, with her own personal ambition, that she fails to see what emancipation really means? Will she be contented merely to imitate man rather than to work out a destiny of her own? We think not. When the first flush of freedom has passed, the pendulum will turn again and woman will find a truer place than she knows now or has known.
Two obstacles to the successful pursuit of her ultimate vocation stand prominently before the young woman of to-day: first, the instruction of the times has imbued her with too little respect for her calling; second, her education teaches her how to do almost everything except how to follow this calling in the scientific spirit of the day. She may scorn housework as drudgery, but no voice is raised to show her that it may be made something else. With the advent of vocational guidance, vocational training of necessity follows close behind. And with vocational training must come a proper appreciation, among the other businesses of life, of this “business of being a woman.”
Must we then educate the girl to be a homemaker, and keep her out of the industrial life which has claimed her so swiftly and in which she has found so much of her emancipation? No, we could not, if we would, keep her from the outside life. We must rather recognize her double vocation and, difficult though it seem, must educate her for both phases of her “business.” She will be not only the better woman, but the better worker, because of the very breadth of her vocational horizon.
Training for homemaking, then, must go hand in hand with training for some phase of industrial life. Vocational guides must consider not only inclination and temperament, but physical condition and the supply and demand of the industrial world. They will consider the girl not merely as an industrial worker, but as a potential homemaker. They will, therefore, also study the effect of various vocations upon homemaking capabilities.
How then shall the teaching of this double vocation be approached? How shall we, as teachers of girls, make them capable of becoming homemakers? How shall we make them see that homemaking and the world’s work may go hand in hand, so that they will desire in time to turn from their industrial service to the later and better destiny of making a home? This book offers its contribution toward answering these questions.