Synopses & Reviews
In the pivotal decades around the turn of the century, American domestic life underwent dramatic alteration. From backstairs to front stairs, spaces and the activities within them were radically affected by shifts in the larger social and material environments. This volume, while taking account of architecture and decoration, moves us beyond the study of buildings to the study of behaviors, particularly the behaviors of those who peopled the middle-class, single-family, detached American home between 1880 and 1930. The book's contributors study transformations in services (such as home utilities of power, heat, light, water, and waste removal) in servicing (for example, the impact of home appliances such as gas and electric ranges, washing machines, and refrigerators), and in serving (changes in domestic servants' duties, hours of work, racial and ethnic backgrounds). In blending intellectual and home history, these essays both examine and exemplify the perennial American enthusiasm for, as well as anxiety about, the meaning of modernity.