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Title: Home Problems from a New Standpoint
Author: Hunt, Caroline L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             HOME PROBLEMS
                           A NEW STANDPOINT

                         _By_ CAROLINE L. HUNT

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                          WHITCOMB & BARROWS
                              BOSTON 1908

                            COPYRIGHT 1908
                           CAROLINE L. HUNT


                              THOMAS TODD
                    14 BEACON STREET, BOSTON, MASS.

                       To H. C. H. and A. G. H.


“Given a number of human beings, with a certain development of physical
and mental faculties and of social resources, how can they best utilize
these powers for the attainment of the most complete satisfaction?” Thus
J. A. Hobson states what he calls _The Social Problem_, adding that if
“complete satisfaction” seems too indefinite, owing to the various
interpretations of which it is capable, we may adopt Ruskin’s words and
say that the end to be sought is “the largest number of healthy and
happy human beings.” It is as a factor in the Social Problem, thus
broadly stated in terms of human life, that this series of papers will
consider The Home.

There was a time when the home could hardly have been said to be a
factor in the Social Problem. It had a problem of its own, to be sure,
that of the proper management of its internal affairs, and upon the
wisdom of that management the welfare of society was largely dependent.
This problem, however, was not greatly affected by conditions in the
world at large. The home was independent industrially and in no way
involved in the general labor problem. Its women members were not
tempted to prepare themselves for and to enter upon occupations
unconnected with its administration and welfare; the question whether a
woman could have a career and a home had not then arisen. The home was
at that time independent also of public work, looking to city or village
boards for assistance neither in maintaining cleanliness nor in warding
off disease.

Now all has changed. The home, by consenting to use factory products and
by employing outside help, has involved itself in the great labor
problem; by educating its daughters to support themselves in occupations
unconnected with its management it has complicated its original problem
of household administration; by entrusting the education of its little
children to schools, the care of its sick to hospitals, the protection
of its water supply, and other important interests, to town councils or
to village boards, it has entered into public affairs. It has brought to
itself new problems and to women and to men new responsibilities, new
opportunities, and new privileges. These new responsibilities,
opportunities, and privileges will be considered in the pages that


   I MORE LIFE FOR WOMAN                                               3

  II MORE LIFE FOR MAN                                                17

 III MORE LIFE FOR THE HOUSEHOLD EMPLOYEE                             33

  IV MORE PHYSICAL VIGOR FOR ALL                                      51

   V MORE JOY IN MERE LIVING                                          67

  VI MORE BEAUTY FOR ALL                                              83


VIII MORE CONSCIENCE FOR THE CONSUMER                                119

IX NEW WORK FOR THE HOME                                             135



More life for woman--not only in length through increase of years, but
also in breadth through increase in joyful, satisfactory, well-directed

A person is prompted to activity by certain instincts or desires. It is
common to divide these desires into two classes--the self-regarding and
the other-regarding. Among those of the first class are the desires for
nutrition, for parenthood, for intellectual activity, and for creating
objects of utility and beauty. Among those of the second class are love
and sympathy. It is common, also, to divide the activities prompted by
the desires into selfish and unselfish on the ground that some are of
value to him alone who engages in them, and some are of value to others
only. The latter division, however, is not rational, for it is easy to
show of any act, that if it is of benefit to the doer it must be to
others also, and _vice versa_. Eating, for example, is prompted by a
desire that is entirely self-regarding, but if we did not eat we could
not work for others.

Although there is no reason for a classification of activities based
upon the recipient of the benefit, there is a reason for a division
based upon the way in which the advantage comes to the doer or to
others. The self-regarding instincts inspire one to acts which lead
directly to the enrichment of his own life and only indirectly, and by
way of his increased power through activity and consequent increased
capacity for service, to the welfare of others. By such acts he
preserves his life, promotes his health, acquires knowledge, and
cultivates talents in whose expression he finds pleasure. The
other-regarding instincts lead one to activities which tend directly to
the welfare of others, and only by a circuitous route and by way of the
benefit conferred upon others, to the enrichment of his own life. By
such activities he sacrifices or endangers his life that others may
live, he gives up health for the health of others, imparts knowledge at
the expense of limiting his own store of information, and leads others
to the satisfaction of expressing their talents by sacrificing the
cultivation and exercise of his peculiar gifts.

Success in either form of activity is dependent upon activity of the
other kind. The man who teaches successfully finds that he at the same
time systematizes his own knowledge, makes it available for his own
purposes, and prepares himself for further learning. The woman who would
have strong children seeks to increase her own physical vigor, and thus
by work for others she secures the joys of health for herself.

On the other hand, activity of one kind, at the expense of the other,
tends not only to unbalance, but to narrow life. The mother who blindly
performs unnecessary services for her child, and thus curtails her time
for reading and study, runs the risk of becoming incapable of directing
wisely the education of the child in later life. She not only unbalances
her life by too much serving, but also narrows it by reducing her
chances for continued usefulness.

Breadth of life is dependent upon an equilibrium between the activities
prompted by the self-regarding and those prompted by the other-regarding

The wish to find expression for peculiar talents is self-regarding.
Occupations suited to talent, however, lead not only to pleasure in
work, but to development and to increased power for usefulness; and
while the interests of the well-balanced life may at any time demand the
sacrifice of talents for the sake of work for others, those same
interests demand just as imperiously that talents must not be
unnecessarily sacrificed for the sake of purposeless serving.

Upon woman’s opportunities for intensive cultivation of special talents,
Nature has set a limitation by specializing her for childbearing. This
limitation is probably not nearly so great as education and unhealthful
living make it appear, but it does exist. Considered alone, it seems an
unqualified disadvantage. Considered in connection with the fact that it
brings the joys of motherhood and of usefulness to society, it appears
to be a means for rounding out and broadening her life.

To this limitation set by Nature to woman’s chances for individualizing
herself, society has added another check by specializing her for
housekeeping. Does this tend to unbalance and narrow her life, or to
balance and broaden it? The answer to this question depends, first, upon
whether she has talents which do not find expression in housekeeping;
second, upon whether her specialization for housekeeping interferes with
their use; and third, if it does interfere, upon whether the
interference brings with it a compensating advantage.

First, have women talents which do not find expression in housekeeping?
That is easily answered. Women are successfully practicing medicine,
nursing, teaching, and working at the various crafts. Society is showing
its appreciation of their work by offering them employment in these
various occupations.

Second, does housekeeping impose a limitation upon the use of these
special talents, independent of the limitation imposed by childbearing?
In answering this it is convenient to suppose a woman’s life to be
divided into three equal periods. If she be granted threescore and ten
years of life, each period would be about twenty-three years long. The
first period in all women is, or should be, given chiefly to education
and preparation for life. The second, in the case of women who marry and
have children, is given chiefly to maternal cares. The third is
comparatively free.

During the first period there is no bent which can be given to education
for the sake of preparing a woman for motherhood that does not prepare
her for life itself. Study of food, hygiene, psychology, all are useful
in any form of life. Not so, however, with the bent that is given to
woman’s education because of her specialization for housekeeping. In
manual training, for example, except in the most progressive of schools,
her work is confined to cooking and sewing. This prevents her from
finding out whether she has talents for work in wood and metal or for
engineering, thus defeating one of the first purposes of education, the
exploration and discovery of talents. This means a waste of time in
early life and frequently a failure to find a life work suited to her
natural endowment. If she does not marry, it offers an unnecessary
handicap to her in business or professional life. If she does marry, it
brings her to the period when childbearing imposes its necessary
limitation, not so well prepared as she might be for carrying on her
special work in hours of leisure. The same thing could be said of the
bent given to the more theoretical parts of woman’s education, for the
purpose of preparing her for housekeeping.

During the second period, housekeeping adds its check to that imposed by
the care of children. Ask a woman why she does not work at her specialty
and she is quite as likely to say, “Because I cannot get good help in my
kitchen,” as “Because the care of my children interferes.” If it were
not for housekeeping, she might give the time now spent in this
employment to reading the literature of her chosen subject, and
oftentimes to active work in her trade or profession--to office
practice, if a doctor; to private classes, if a teacher. If she had
chosen a craft, her work would be practically uninterrupted, for it
could be carried on at home.

During the third period, housekeeping imposes two limitations, one
directly and the other in the form of an inefficiency projected from the
second period because of disuse of her talents. It is during this time
that the sacrifice of woman’s talents for the sake of housekeeping is
most apparent. She is free from the care of young children, and if she
were not handicapped by inexperience could enrich her own life and add
to her usefulness by systematic work in her own line.

Housekeeping, then, does provide a check upon the development of woman’s
individuality through the use of special powers, a check which extends
over all her life and is independent of that imposed by childbearing.

Finally, is this check necessary to the well-balanced life? This must be
determined for individual cases. In trying to answer the question, we
must keep in mind that whenever an activity is necessary to the
realization of the ideal of home, it is necessary to the complete life,
whether it involves the sacrifice of talents or not; when it is not so
necessary and does not provide an outlet for special talents, it is an
unjustifiable waste of woman’s life and of society’s resources.

That which is necessary for good home-making can be determined only by
holding fast to the highest ideal of home and by having a clear
understanding of changing social conditions. The ideal never changes;
the best home-making must always be an intelligent, affectionate effort
to help others to attain as nearly as possible to completeness of life
by securing for them those essentials of good living which they cannot
obtain in other ways as well or better; but while the ideal remains
always the same, the means by which it must be realized undergo constant
change. Once it was necessary for a woman to make candles or to leave
her husband and children in darkness. That time passed, for husband and
children found a better light than that of homemade candles. And yet
the woman continued her candle-making for a long period. She has done
this with most of the varied activities of housekeeping, continuing them
long after they had become only an obstacle in the way of her own
independent development.

The reason for this useless clinging to outgrown activities is to be
found in our conception of the purposes of housekeeping. We have thought
of its multiple activities as the ends toward which the talents of all
women should be bent, no matter how difficult or how wasteful the
bending process. A frank recognition of the varied character of women’s
talents and of society’s need for the full and free exercise of these
talents, and an appreciation also of the value of good home-making, not
only to the world at large, but to women themselves as a means of
rounding out and balancing their lives, will lead to a different
conception. A special trade, craft, profession, business, or form of
public work will seem the end toward which the peculiar talent of a
given woman should be directed, while housekeeping will appear, not as
an end in itself, but as a means, the means which at a given stage of
industrial development all women may find it necessary to employ if they
would give expression to their love by making homes.

In this spirit of double appreciation we see that when the home-maker
continues one of the activities of housekeeping after it has become
unnecessary to good home-making, she unbalances her life by
over-serving; that when she sacrifices home for the sake of a “career,”
she destroys the equilibrium of her life by failing to find expression
for the other-regarding desires. In this spirit alone can we view the
changes which are going on in society, and separate those which tend to
narrow and impoverish woman’s life from those which tend to broaden and
enrich it.

Looking in this spirit, we see an advantage in boarding-house life
because it reduces the amount of work necessary for cooking and serving
food. We see another advantage in the reduction of the amount of
superintendence when compared with the amount of work done.
Housekeepers today are being nerve-racked by an amount of
superintendence out of all proportion to the labor necessary for
housekeeping. On the other hand, we see disadvantages in this kind of
life because it is incompatible with the retirement that is necessary
for mutual helpfulness, for successful child training, and for good
fellowship. The adoption of a scientific and up-to-date modification of
the “lodgings” system in vogue in England, or some other plan of
professional catering for private families, might be the means of
preserving the good in boarding-house life without perpetuating the

We see in the increase of prepared foods upon the market a saving of
labor but a menace to health. Women’s clubs, made possible partly
because of the saving of time through the use of these foods, are
largely responsible for the pure food laws that have been passed, and we
are looking to them for an educational campaign which will result in
further legislation and a better enforcement of present laws.

In the movement toward economic independence for woman, we see
advantages and disadvantages. When it leads her to sacrifice home and
motherhood and the opportunity to do work in which her soul delights
rather than to be economically dependent, it enslaves her and her
talents, for economic independence is worthless unless it brings
expressional freedom; when it brings her the opportunity to do the work
she loves and can do best, it frees her and her powers.

We see in the revival of handicraft tremendous significance to woman,
because it opens up to her a great field of industries which offer
activities for both hand and brain, and which can be carried on at home
without interfering with the care of children. We see why it was
necessary for the handicrafts to fall into disuse while we were working
out the system of division of labor, which now, upon their revival,
makes it possible for women to become more than mere amateurs in them.
These and many other interesting movements we see in society, if we have
our eyes open, both to the value of woman as a home-maker and to her
value as an individual.

More life for woman--not through sacrifice of the joys of motherhood and
home-making, but by the addition of the pleasures in satisfactory
cultivation of special talents to the privileges of service.


The changes which are enlarging woman’s educational privileges and are
giving to her an opportunity to prepare herself for work not directly
connected with the home, and which by simplifying housekeeping methods
are making it possible for her to carry on such work in connection with
home-making, may be said to be bringing _more life to man_, providing we
understand the word _life_ in its broad and not in its narrow sense, and
providing we mean by _man_ no particular individual nor class of
individuals, but composite man.

The individual man may be inclined to dispute this statement. If so, it
is probably because of one of two facts. Either he does not see life
whole, and thinks only of what he has lost by woman’s progress and not
of what he has gained, or he forgets that he is only a small part of
composite man, and, as such, may fall below the average with respect to
his joy in living.

If he likes homemade bread and is compelled to eat baker’s bread because
his wife likes to study Dante better than to cook, he may think that he
is not so well off as he would have been if he had lived a half century
ago, when Dante classes for women and baker’s bread were practically
unknown. But if he considers the advantages of eating his supper under
the eaves, as it were, of the Dante class, and of having his baker’s
bread flavored with drippings of information concerning the great poet
and his times, he may conclude that baker’s bread with Dante sauce is
more to him than homemade bread without it.

Or it may be that his doubt of the statement is due to the fact that his
quota of life is below the average. Perhaps his wife goes off to her
class and does not bring back to him the information and inspiration
which she has received. If so, the trouble is not with the times, but
with human nature. Selfishness always has existed and always will exist.
If a man has a selfish wife, the only thing he can do to assure himself
that men are really better off than they used to be is to look abroad
and to see if, for every one like himself, there are not two others who
are profiting by woman’s broadened life and who bring up the average of
life for modern man above that of his middle-of-the-nineteenth-century

To live, what is it? To be healthy, to enjoy the pleasures of the
senses, to taste good tastes, to hear sweet sounds, to see beautiful
sights, to learn, to do (if we object to the word “work” because it is
sometimes applied to drudgery), and to love. The last is most important
of all. It modifies all the rest, and they at times must be sacrificed
to it. It is interpreted by all the rest, for only by knowing what we
consider real life for ourselves can we know what our love should seek
for others.

Taking the desire to love first, woman’s expanding life is making
possible for man the expression of an ever better and higher form of
affection. To see how this comes about, we must read the present in the
light of the past.

There was a time when man’s work as well as woman’s was almost all
directly connected with the home. He raised wheat, kept cows, pigs, and
chickens, hewed timber, built his own house and barn, and gathered his
own fuel, while she spun, dyed, wove, sewed, cooked, and cared for the
house. Neither was then a specialist. Then came division of labor,
which, however, affected man’s work more than woman’s. This made it
possible for him to become a farmer, a carpenter, or a coal merchant,
and to provide for the needs of his home by the fruits of his
specialized labor instead of by direct labor, as he had done in earlier
times. To woman there has never come any such privilege. Although her
duties are much lightened, she must still be a housekeeper if she would
be a home-maker.

One explanation that has been given for the differences in the courses
that man’s and woman’s activities have taken is that woman is less
progressive than man and more opposed to change. Another is that her
work is so closely connected with personal needs and has associated with
it so much of sentiment that it cannot be delegated to outsiders.
Whatever the cause may be, the average married man’s work today has
certain distinct advantages over the average married woman’s. It is more
varied and more likely to call special talents into play, and it takes
him out among people and gives him a broad outlook.

If we view the situation in a bargaining spirit, it may seem fair that
when man earns the money woman should care for the house. If, however,
we consider the amount of life that each is securing from work, the
inequalities of the situation become apparent. There is always, to be
sure, an occasional man who, recognizing the disabilities under which
his wife labors, seeks to equalize matters by accepting a share in home
responsibilities and work. The discovery of the necessity for such
action, to which neither tradition nor custom points, is a mark of
intelligence. The acceptance of the responsibility after it is
recognized is the result of an unselfishness of the highest form, to
which society does not direct him as it does to activities for the
purpose of supporting the family, nor instinct prompt him as it does
woman to her self-sacrifices in caring for the family. His recognition
of the unequal distribution of life and his efforts at equalization are
triumphs of wisdom and love over nature, tradition, and custom.

Unselfish man has in the past been woefully handicapped. Fifty years ago
he could not have said to his wife, as he can now, “Do no cooking today,
but buy some baked beans or boiled ham for supper and you go to the art
exhibition.” Fifty years ago there was little object in trying to
relieve his wife of her household cares, for then there was little else
upon which she could profitably spend her time. Now, when he wishes to
be unselfish, his opportunities for accomplishing something worth while
thereby are great. Of course he is always encountering his wife’s desire
to be unselfish also, and to stay at home and cook the food he likes and
otherwise to provide for his comfort, but the two must settle that
between themselves, with due regard on the part of each for preserving
the proper balance in the life of the other. In this struggle the
greater possibilities in the way of development and increase of life
lie with man. To woman it is given to accept a self-sacrifice which
nature has mapped out for her by specializing her for childbearing and
which society has mapped out for her by specializing her for
housekeeping. To man it is given to map out for himself a new path into
unselfishness and to secure the expansion of powers that comes from

Nor is this higher affection merely its own reward. To the increase of
life brought by love is added increase in all other directions,
presupposing always ideas and ideals in woman as well as in man. With
leisure created by man’s unselfishness, woman can study and secure
mental development which makes her a wiser conserver of man’s health, a
better comrade in his leisure, and a more intelligent helper in his
labors. To use the phraseology of our definition of life, she can better
assist him to secure health, to enjoy the pleasures of the senses, to
learn, and to do.

He wishes health. There was a time when his work demanded life-giving,
muscular exercise in the fresh air, when his house was so loosely built
that it was inevitably well ventilated, when he lived so far from his
neighbors that there was no danger of catching their diseases either
through contamination of water supply or otherwise, when his food passed
directly from garden to table, fresh and unadulterated. Then health came
almost unbidden. His wife, though she could help him in many other ways,
could do little for his health except to cook his food properly.

Later, things changed. He moved into the town and his neighbor’s sewage
percolated into his well. His house was tightly built and admitted
little air through the cracks. His work became sedentary and kept him
indoors most of the time. His food was brought to him from the four
corners of the earth, passing through many hands on the way, and was
liable to deterioration and adulteration.

For a time he failed to see that with changed conditions his health
problem had changed. If, as a result, he did not die of consumption or
typhoid fever, he became anæmic and dyspeptic, his chest sank, his
circulation became impaired, and his liver sluggish. Then he awoke to
the fact that if he would have good air he must adopt a system of
ventilation for his closed buildings; that if he would have good lung
capacity, quick circulation, and an active liver, he must take regular
physical exercise; that if he would have safe water, he must stir up the
municipal authorities to do their duty or must himself adopt means to
sterilize his drinking supply; that if he would have wholesome food,
there was something necessary besides good cooking. Dairies and markets
must be inspected and laws against adulteration must be made and

Scientists came to his rescue and put at his disposal an abundance of
literature on hygiene, sanitation, and physical culture, but he had
little time in which to read it. So it has come about that with his
altered health problem there has been opened to woman the opportunity to
do something more for man’s health than to cook his food. If she is
intelligent and has leisure, she can study sanitation and hygiene and
make practical application of their principles in her home. She can take
lessons in physical culture, pass them on to her husband and exercise
with him a few minutes every day, thus helping him to overcome the
effects of his sedentary occupation. She can, through her clubs, stir up
the town authorities to provide good water, to clean the streets and
prevent disease-laden dust from blowing about, to care properly for
garbage and sewage, and to inspect places where food is kept for sale.
In many ways she can help in the struggle against disease which man made
necessary when he became a town dweller.

Man wishes to enjoy the pleasures of the senses, among which not the
least in importance is the sense of taste. This sense God gave for man’s
enjoyment, and then provided for its satisfaction many delicious natural
flavors. It is not, however, the man in whose house there is most
cooking done who gets the greatest pleasure from taste, and it is
frequently just he who gets the least enjoyment from the other senses.
If a man insists upon taking his wife to see the woods when the violets
are in blossom, instead of letting her stay at home to make shortcake
for his supper, he loses his shortcake, but plain strawberries and cream
and bread and butter often taste better after a brisk walk than
shortcake does without the walk, and in this case the man gets not only
the taste of the food, but also the smell of the woods, the sight of the
flowers, and the sound of the birds. Nor is it the man in whose house
there is most cleaning done who gets most pleasure from the sense of
sight. If a man insists on or acquiesces in the reduction of the number
of carpets, curtains, and draperies, because they make too much care for
his wife, he loses the beauty of these furnishings, but the absence of
curtains may make it possible for him to feast his eyes on the waving
trees and the ever changing sky, while the reduction of care may make it
possible for his wife to go with him to art gallery or concert, or to
make such a study of art and music as to increase his own enjoyment and
appreciation of them.

He wishes to learn. Most men do, even after their college days are over.
He wishes to have a background of information in order that he may
understand current events better, to know of the world and its progress,
and of the relation of his special occupation to the world’s work. But
alas! He has little time for general reading. Often he has not even time
to go to the library. An intelligent and educated wife can often,
providing she has leisure, do for him much which he would do in his own
spare moments if he had them.

He wishes to do. Who is there who does not occasionally say, “If I had
money, if I had time, I would do so and so?” This suggests the kind of
doing that is pleasurable, that is better than leisure, and which an
assured income cannot stop. It often happens that a man’s work borders
on this kind of activity. He is a teacher and loves his profession, but
in order to do his work satisfactorily he ought to have time for
independent study and research. If there were fewer papers to correct, a
little less routine, he might have time for original work which would
leaven all the rest. Or perhaps he is a draftsman working all day at
monotonous tasks, but amid surroundings that inspire him to do some work
on his own account, and to grow in his profession. The wide-awake,
educated woman has it in her power frequently to become conversant with
her husband’s work, to lessen his drudgery, and, having saved him a
little time for original work, to make it go further than it otherwise
would because of her intelligent coöperation and assistance.

If living consists in being healthy, in enjoying the pleasures of the
senses, in learning, in doing, and in loving, modern man stands a better
chance of living than his predecessor did. The reasons are many, and not
the least of them is the fact that his wife lives more.

Nor is the end in sight. If women’s opportunities to prepare themselves
for and to enter upon careers unconnected with the home multiply in the
future as they have in the past, men may be called upon to adjust
themselves to much more radical changes. But the indications are that
these changes will offer to them further opportunities for the
expression of disinterested affection and larger lives through the
expansion of the lives of those they love.


“I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the
same terms.” In these words of Walt Whitman’s can all of us who cherish
the democratic ideal of equality of privilege and opportunity express
our feelings with regard to domestic service, for when we are able to
rise above the trials and tribulations that the institution brings to
ourselves and to look upon it from an impersonal point of view, we find
that the chief source of our dissatisfaction with it is in the fact that
it gives benefits to one class by taking their counterpart from another.

The popular toleration of domestic service is due to a misapplication of
the theory that the family is the unit of society. This theory has, in
the past, played an important part in social evolution by calling
attention to and emphasizing the family relation. It has, however, led
to many undemocratic practices. This has been not so much because of
anything wrong with the theory, as because it has not been supported by
a clear conception of the value of the individual life. Thus
unsupported, it has, by allowing itself to become entangled with the
theory that man is the logical representative of the family in society,
taken from woman the incentive to, and the opportunity for, independent
action, and has also been responsible for the grossest infringements of
her property rights. Thus unsupported, too, it has, by emphasizing the
family as an institution, rather than the right of the individual to the
family relation, led to the condoning of the maintenance of certain
families at the expense of the freedom of individuals to enter into the
family relation. Thus in slave times the family connections of the
blacks were ruthlessly shattered in order to provide the service that
was thought necessary to preserve the family life of the whites.

A better working theory, and one that is less likely to lead to
undemocratic practices, is the one that sees in the individual the
unit, and in the family relation one of the most important means for
promoting his happiness and social usefulness. Such a view of the value
of the individual and of the importance of the family relation leads
logically to the conception of the obligation of the individual who
accepts the privileges of the family relation so to adjust his life to
the lives of the other members of his family group as to preserve their
individual freedom, and to coöperate with them in the effort so to
adjust the group to the social order as not to interfere with the
freedom of other individuals to enter into and to maintain the family

In the light of this view of society, domestic service looms up most
undemocratic. It is so ordered as to bring a combination of benefits to
a privileged class. This combination consists of the opportunity to live
in retirement with those to whom they are bound by kinship or affection
or by both, and thus to transform the places where they eat and sleep
into homes, and the privilege of getting rid of the multiple activities
which the maintenance of separate homes involves, the cooking,
cleaning, etc., and of being able to engage in activities of their
choice, and to secure leisure for social intercourse.

This combination of privileges is at present secured at the expense of a
corresponding combination of privileges in the serving class. The result
is three distinct disabilities for this class. The first, which arises
from the fact that the domestic servant has not free choice of
residence, and must accept the external form of home where her employer
has his real home, may be called ethical, because its most serious
result is that it takes from her the opportunity for moral development
that comes from home-making. The second is industrial, and arises from
the fact that she must offer in exchange for wages no particular
services, but her entire time, to be disposed of as her employer sees
fit. The third, which arises from her intimate personal relation to her
employer, is social, and results in the determination of her position in
society, not by her worth nor by her qualifications for social
intercourse, but by her position as a member of the serving class.

These three disabilities on the part of the servants react on the
employers, and bring them three forms of inconvenience. The first is a
feeling of responsibility for the sex relations of the employee, a
responsibility that is not felt with reference to those with whom the
relation is a purely business one, such as the butcher, the grocer, the

The second is the difficulty of making the servants “know and keep their
places.” This leads at times to such serious dilemmas as the one in
which the man found himself who appealed to Marion Harland, through her
queries column in one of the daily papers, to know whether he ought to
recognize his family servant on the street, and if so, whether he ought
to lift his hat or merely to nod his head. One can imagine this poor man
staying closely within his office on Thursday afternoons, if Marion
Harland was not prompt with her reply, for fear that if he ventured
forth upon the street he might on turning a corner come suddenly upon
his household helper, and, being still unsupplied with a code of
etiquette, not know how to conduct himself.

The third inconvenience to the employer is the lack in the servant of
personal responsibility for good work, the inevitable result of time

To remove these three disabilities from the employee and the three
inconveniences from the employer, certain changes in household
administration must be made. First, the relation of mistress and servant
must be changed to the more democratic one of employer and employee.
Second, the work of the household must be so arranged as to allow a
person to perform one service, such as cleaning, for many families,
instead of many services for one family. Third, the work done in the
home must be reduced, and then compressed within the limits of a
reasonable working day, in order that it may not interfere with the home
life of the employee.

For these modifications in household administration the changes that are
going on outside of the home are paving the way. Public education is
removing the stigma from domestic service by refusing to recognize class
distinctions in the distribution of its benefits. Commerce, industry,
science, and art are coöperating to reduce the amount of work
necessarily done in the home.

Central plants for the distribution of hot water for heating, cleaning,
and bathing purposes are now in use in many places. One city, Colorado
Springs, is said to be considering the construction of a central
pneumatic cleaning plant. Central refrigerating plants are practicable.

Commercial changes are continually making it possible to buy commodities
which it was formerly necessary to prepare at home. This has been
referred to so often that it need only be mentioned here, although it is
one of the most important of the social changes that are affecting the
conditions of home life. Improved methods of transportation are bringing
us fresh fruit all the year around, and thus reducing the work of
preserving and of making desserts. Industrial changes are making it
possible to have performed outside of the home services like laundry
work, mending, and carpet cleaning, which it used to be necessary to
include in household labor.

Advances in medical science are putting nursing on the plane of the
professions, and making the hospital seem a better place than the
private house for the care of the sick. Hygienic considerations make it
seem wise that maternity cases also be cared for in hospitals.

Advances in sanitary science are making it not only desirable, but
possible, to transfer one whole class of duties from the housekeeper and
her assistants to the individual members of the family. These are
connected with the care of the bedroom and its furnishings. Now that it
seems best that each person should have a separate sleeping room, and
now that knowledge of hygiene is available for all, there is no reason
why every able-bodied adult should not assume full charge of his own
room, having it cleaned and changing bedclothes and towels as often as
he thinks necessary considering the state of his health, the amount of
sun that his room receives, and the amount of dust to which it is

Kindergartens are continually taking children at a younger age.
Clubrooms are being made available for private entertainments.

Art is lightening household labor by teaching a better way in house
decoration and furnishing. By teaching form, color, and design it is
showing that a good color on the wall, which, being vertical, sheds the
dust by reason of the force of gravity, may give so much esthetic
satisfaction as to take away the necessity for many of our
dust-entrapping decorations; that one piece of pottery of good color and
form may please the eye more than a whole mantel shelf full of
nondescript articles of bric-a-brac; that plain furniture of good form
may be more beautiful than that which is covered with carving and brass
filigree. Plain, substantial furniture and simplicity in decoration are
not only lessening work, but are making it more practicable to turn
houses over to professional cleaners.

Another change should be mentioned which, though at first thought it
seems to have little connection with household management, may prove to
be of much significance. This change has come about through the fact
that the time of preparation necessary for the professions is
continually lengthening. The result of this is that there is in college
towns (and with the spread of university extension and of correspondence
study there is coming to be in other towns) a class of young people who
are still studying, but who must and should support themselves. The
young men of this class now take care of furnaces, beat rugs, and
perform other such services. The young women take care of children. If
it were not for the popular feeling with respect to housework, they
might be employed in many other ways. There is a whole class of tasks,
like the cleaning of silver, the making of beds, and the serving of
meals, which require less skill and experience than cooking and less
strength than the heavy cleaning. These, as Lucy Maynard Salmon says in
“Domestic Service,” are frequently not well performed, yet, on the other
hand, they involve no principles which an intelligent person cannot
master in a very short time. After the principles have been learned the
tasks become only light routine work, suitable for relaxation after
brain work. These tasks might be given to the students referred to above
with profit both to themselves and to housekeepers.

The changes of which mention has been made, particularly the commercial
and industrial ones, have been due chiefly to man’s enterprise. This is
because man’s life has given him a broad and general view of society and
its needs which woman’s life has not given to her, and because his
position as breadwinner has given him an incentive to anticipate human
demands and to meet them with business ventures, an incentive which
woman’s position as housekeeper has not given to her. Woman is now,
however, fast getting the far view, and has the advantage of having also
the intimate view of human needs which she has secured through her care
of the family. So it is happening that while man is going on ahead and
initiating great changes, woman is following close behind and directing
the changes into channels which lead to the satisfaction of real human
needs. Thus men, by establishing great bakeries, showed the economic
advantage of having bread made in large quantities. Women, like Mrs.
Brainard, of Chicago, who started the Home Delicacies Company, have
followed after and shown that man’s methods could be employed in making
bread that meets the demands of taste and health. Men, by establishing
public laundries, showed the economic advantage of having the laundry
work removed from the home. It was left for women, like the Misses
White, of Brookline, Massachusetts, who started the Sunshine Laundry, to
show that public laundries could make clothes really clean, and at the
same time preserve them for the future use of their owners (a point
which all who patronize laundries will appreciate).

This control of changes woman must continue to exercise. She must also
accept the task of adjusting household work to the social changes that
have already taken place. For this double work she is well prepared. As
an individual she can make the adjustments in her own home. As a club
member she can, in coöperation with other women, look after the social

She can, through her clubs, establish residence clubs where household
employees can live in comparative freedom, public kitchens from which
food can be sent to be served in private houses, and in which the
workers will be on the same footing as the workers in any other trade,
bureaus from which special helpers can be sent to work by the day or
hour, and public nurseries which shall combine the bacteriological
cleanliness of hospitals with the educational advantages of
kindergartens. Women’s clubs are particularly well prepared to do these
things, first because failure would mean no serious loss to any
individual, and second, because the members are intelligent enough to
make their failures as well as their successes of benefit to those who
come after them, an important consideration in all progressive work.

Besides this public work, woman can arrange the work in her own home so
as to give her helper a limited day’s work--of ten hours, say--and thus
make her free to choose her own place of residence. This she may do by
preparing her own breakfast and employing her helper from ten in the
morning until eight at night, or by going out for her evening meal and
employing the helper from six in the morning until four in the
afternoon, or in some one of the numberless ways which special
conditions will suggest. Or she can make such adjustments as shall make
it possible for her to employ special helpers. In this her greatest
difficulty will probably arise from the fact that one helper cannot
perform the same service in several places at the same time, and the
housekeeper’s time schedule will have to be changed. It will require an
effort for her to realize in her conduct that difference between
disorder and dirt which she recognizes with her intellect, and to act
upon the belief that delay in dishwashing involves disorder, but not
necessarily uncleanliness, and that beds left open in the sun for many
hours are really cleaner than those which are closed up early in the

With cooking done in public kitchens, with washing done in public
laundries, with cleaning done by specialists, with the individual
members of the family taking charge of their own rooms, with hospitals
to care for the sick, and with public nurseries and kindergartens to
help with the care of babies and young children, there would still be
left certain connecting links of work even in families employing regular
helpers for a limited number of hours each day. It is these odds and
ends that the various members of the family will have to accept as their
tasks and perform in payment for the privilege of preserving family life
without shattering democratic ideals.

With these changes the household employee will emerge from the
restricted existence of “domestic service” to the broader life of
ethical, industrial, and social freedom.


     “ ...the words health, whole, holy, are from the same stock.” “The
     doctor does not give health, but the winds of heaven; ...”--_Edward

There are conditions in life which favor physical vigor. There are also
conditions which stimulate mental activity, and tend to provide for it
the necessary time and energy. Unfortunately these two sets of
conditions, far from being identical, are often directly at war with
each other.

Suppose, as an example of the former conditions, a man living apart from
his fellows and obliged to secure his own food. The trees hang their
fruit at such a height that in order to reach it he must exert himself
moderately, not enough to exhaust himself, but enough to insure a good
digestion. In pursuit of game he must keep out of doors and be much
afoot. Unpolluted mountain streams invite him to drink and to bathe. To
keep within easy reach of his food supply summer and winter, he must
frequently change his abode. For this reason he depends upon clothing
rather than upon closely built walls for shelter, and moves away from
the _débris_ which collects around him before it has endangered his
bodily well-being. Thus the conditions of his life combine to give him
the exercise and fresh air and sunlight and good food and good water and
cleanliness that are necessary for his physical vigor.

Now, suppose a man living under the other conditions--those that
stimulate mental activity. A library tempts him to read, a university to
study. The sight of great works of art or of other material products of
human genius awakens any talents he may have. Association with thinking
men and women induces currents of thought within him. Finally, contact
with people who are willing and glad to climb his tree for him and
pursue his game makes it possible for him to find time for brain work.

But the opportunity to read and study instead of the necessity for
climbing trees and chasing game means the loss of the condition that
made for muscular activity, for good circulation, and good digestion.
The decline in muscular activity makes his body produce heat less
rapidly, and creates a demand for closely built walls and roof in
addition to clothing. This means a loss of the condition that insured a
plentiful supply of sunlight and fresh air. The permanent shelter makes
it impossible for him to move away from the _débris_ of his food and the
excretions of his body, and thus destroys the condition that in itself
favored and practically compelled cleanliness.

All this would make no difference, providing physical vigor were not
necessary to mental activity. This, however, is a theory with which in
the past we toyed to our sorrow. We conceived of a physical life and of
an intellectual life, of a healthy body as necessary for the physical
but not for the intellectual, and of development as coming through the
putting off of the physical and the putting on of the intellectual. But
we found that we were mistaken. The man from whom we were expecting
beautiful poetry breathed bad air, weakened his lungs, fell a victim to
tuberculosis, and we lost him and his song. The man to whom we were
looking to plan for us beautiful buildings, to compensate in part for
the natural beauties we had lost, weakened his body by insufficient
exercise, then drank polluted water, died of typhoid fever, and we lost
him and the beauties he might have created.

Then we began to think, and we realized that there is only one life;
that that life is a bundle of desires, of loves, of sympathies, and of
hopes; that development is not a putting off, but an expansion, coming
when the desires increase, when the loves widen, when the sympathies
broaden, and when the hopes get a farther view into the future; that for
the outward expression of this inner and invisible life the body is the
only tool, and that for the expression of the whole life, whether it be
a life of few desires or many, a “whole” or healthy body is necessary.
Acting upon this conviction, we began to establish kindergartens, and
schools for manual training, for handicraft, and engineering, in order
to train the hand to execute in material form what the mind conceived
as an abstraction. We added departments of physical culture to the
departments of Latin and Greek in our colleges, in order to train the
“whole” man and the “whole” woman.

To fit a body to be the tool for the satisfaction of a few desires, and
those mainly the desires for food and drink and shelter, is not a
difficult task. It is only when we try to make it satisfy the many
desires, including that for intellectual activity, that trouble begins.
Then the poor body, put upon the stretch, is likely to develop a weak
spot. To provide a suitable shelter for a body of few desires would
puzzle no one. To build a fit habitation for a body of many desires is a
problem that calls for all our experience and ingenuity.

At this point comes along the man who pooh-poohs at all things hygienic,
and tells us that if we will only cease to think of our bodies we shall
be all right; and this man has much on his side of the argument. He
forgets, however, that what we have broken we must also mend, if we
would have a whole. In the future there may be born a “whole” child
under such favorable conditions that he will develop harmoniously
without thought on his part or upon that of others. At present, however,
amid the conditions that we brought upon ourselves by conceiving of an
intellectual life apart from the physical, harmonious expansion is
impossible without a conscious effort to regain bodily “wholeness.”

The harmful effects of dwelling upon “unwholeness” are not to be
overlooked. To avoid them we must keep our attention upon the good as
far as possible. There have been in the past, if we can believe the
testimony of ancient statuary, fine, well-developed, full-chested, and
straight-limbed bodies. These we must study, and think of our own
underdeveloped bodies only long enough to learn how we can restore them
to the proportions of the body beautiful. There are conditions that
favor the development of the body beautiful. These we must analyze,
thinking of bad conditions only long enough to learn how to make them
good. Our model for our drinking water must be the water of an
unpolluted mountain stream; for our air, the air of the open country;
for our exercise, the varied movements of “the natural man” in his
efforts to secure food; for our food, that which the man eats whose
surroundings favor physical vigor.

To be sure, we cannot hope to regain the body beautiful, nor to have
houses that shall favor its development, until we have secured the city
beautiful, which shall unite fresh air and good water and abundance of
sunlight and the opportunity for enjoyable exercise and the chance to
get good food with the stimulus to and the time for intellectual
activity. There are some things, however, that we can do and some things
that we can leave undone which will help to restore good conditions.

Why, in the matter of fresh air, do we act upon the principle, _Windows
closed except when it is absolutely necessary to open them_? Why do we
not adopt the motto, _Windows open except when it is absolutely
necessary to close them_? Why do we not have soft woolen jackets, such
as the golfers use, to put on as the first expedient to avoid cold,
leaving the closing of the windows till the last? Why, in the winter
time, do we not put strips of wood in the lower parts of our windows, so
as to leave an open space between the sashes, where the air can enter
without striking us directly? Why, in the summer weather, do we ever
close our windows? Is it because of the dust? If the dust is
unreasonably great, why do we not stir up the town authorities to keep
the streets in such condition that we can have fresh air? If it is not
unreasonably great, but we have draperies that we value more than fresh
air, perhaps we need to make a little reëvaluation. Why, in the
beautiful autumn and spring days, when it is just too cool to have the
windows open without a fire, do we not, instead of closing our houses,
have a little fire and open the windows? Is it because that would be too
expensive? Then could we not have one less course at dinner or one less
dress a year and keep the air? Why do we wait until we have time for a
promenade before we “air” the baby? Why do we not put the baby in its
carriage on a sunny porch? Is it because we think that the baby, in
some mysterious way, derives benefit from the exercise of our legs? Why
do we always eat and sleep within doors? Why, when we plan new houses,
do we not arrange them so that the kitchen and serving pantry will
communicate as easily with a porch as with the indoor dining room? Why
do we not have roof gardens, where we can sleep under the beautiful
stars in warm weather? A shower bath open at the top, so that we could
take water and air and sun baths all at the same time, would add to the
attractiveness of the roof, and it might also be possible to have
arrangements there for our European breakfast or our afternoon tea. Why
do we ever shut the sun out of unoccupied rooms? Why do we not let it
blaze in its life-giving, sterilizing rays? Draperies again? Carpets?
Curtains? Well, there is one consolation. The old-fashioned, fast dyes
are being revived, and we may in time have furnishings that will stand
the sun.

In the matter of muscular exercise, why do we have our working clothes
(humorously so called) made so that they weigh down our legs and bind
down our arms; while our play clothes, our golf, tennis, and bathing
suits, are made so as to permit free muscular activity? Why do not
women, when they do their housework, which would give play to every
muscle if it had a chance, wear suits akin to gymnasium suits, less
abbreviated in the skirt, perhaps, but not long enough to be stepped
upon when the body is bent over? Why do we put skirts on the baby that
is just learning to draw himself to his feet, when we know that he
cannot avoid stepping upon them and wrenching his head forward? Why, in
short, do we put skirts on any living creature until that living
creature demands them? If we did not put skirts on our girls until they
discovered that they were differently dressed from the rest of their
sex, what a long period of free, healthful, muscular activity they would
have! One of the prettiest sights I ever saw was the little girls of a
New England town dressed for coasting in woolen tights and sweaters and
tasseled caps.

On this subject of clothes the hygienist and the teacher of physical
culture have done their best to reform us. The former has shown us
grewsome cross-sections of people who have had their ribs displaced by
tight lacing. The latter has stood up before us at exhibitions and
assumed graceful poses. But somehow neither has related the subject
sufficiently to life itself. It is only when we think of life as made up
of desires that find expression only through the body, when we think
that by a motion, by a posture, we can express love, hatred, sympathy,
cordiality, that we begin to cherish the smallest muscle and to think of
clothes, not with reference to whether they are tight or loose, but with
reference to whether they help or hinder the body in its effort to
express the inner life.

As to baths, why do we locate our bathrooms on the north side of the
house, and then make junk shops of them by filling them with blacking
boxes and medicine bottles and hot water bags and any other thing that
is not wanted elsewhere? Given a nice, clean, white tub in an airy room,
with the morning sun falling directly upon it, and who can resist a

Last of all comes food, and here is where the man who fears the physical
effect of self-consciousness sees most danger. “Eat what you wish and
don’t think about it, and you will be all right.” Alas, that is what the
world has been doing, and instead of being all right, it has fallen a
prey to numberless diseases that can be traced either directly or
indirectly to dietetic errors. In food, as in other matters, we have a
standard to guide us. That is the amount and kind of food that a person
eats who lives under conditions that favor physical vigor. Perhaps the
best we can do for ourselves is to think of the food that we ate with a
relish when we were camping. Then when we find that this plain, simple
diet, without “made dishes” and pastry, is no longer palatable, we will
probably decide that we need a long walk, and will take it if we can
possibly find the time.

Fresh air, sunlight, cleanliness, exercise, good food, good
water--these, the conditions of physical vigor, come to that part of the
world that is living under the intellectual stimulus only as the result
of a conscious effort; but to what better use can we put our intellects
after they are aroused than to the endeavor to regain bodily


The machinery of life and life itself are continually getting mixed up,
both in our theories and also in our practices, and it is frequently
difficult to say of a given act whether it is a part of life itself or
whether it is just a means of preparation for life. It was this fact, I
suppose, that Henry Drummond had in mind when he said that, even at the
worst, the struggle for life was really life itself. He applied this, to
be sure, to the fierce struggles for food and other necessaries of life
in which, during early stages of development, human beings engaged for
the purpose of self-preservation. It is just as applicable, however, to
our present struggle for life, for the care and the foresight that we
must exercise in order to secure the food and the shelter and the fresh
air and the sunlight which are necessary simply as preparation for what
we consider our life work really involve just the thought and the
exercise of reason that make life for us as distinguished from mere
existence. Thus the fact that the harder we must struggle for life the
greater is that mental activity which is an essential part of life
itself is the first source of consolation for the fact that we have to

But there is another and a greater source of consolation. It was
Drummond, I think, who originated the expression, _the struggle for the
life of others_, making it cover all the activities to which we are
prompted by love. Of these activities the most important is home-making,
and it is the opportunity that home affords for merging _the struggle
for life_ into _the struggle for the life of others_ that takes the
sting from the work necessary for self-preservation. Thus, in providing
a shelter to protect himself from the elements and to keep him in
condition for work, man, if he be a home-maker, performs the same
service for those he loves; and in providing for herself food that shall
fit her to be an efficient working member of society, woman, if she be a
home-maker, performs the same service for those who are bound to her by
affection. Herein lies the second source of consolation for the fact
that the greater part of our time and energy must be given to securing
and caring for the machinery of life.

In getting ready to live, and in helping others to get ready to live--in
these two ways we spend the greater part of our lives. But there are
some activities in life which are simply a part of living. Of these, or
of part of them, Browning makes David sing in “Saul”:

    Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,
    The strong rending of boughs from the fir tree, the cool, silver shock
    Of the plunge in a pool’s living water, the hunt of the bear,
    And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair,
    And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine,
    And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine,
    And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
    That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
    How good is man’s life, the mere living! how fit to employ
    All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy!

To the pleasures which are here suggested, and which are chiefly those
of the senses, should be added, if we are to have anything like a
complete list, those pleasures which come from going to the theater,
from listening to music, and from looking at works of art, providing, of
course, we do not take any of them too seriously; those pleasures which
come from social intercourse with friends, and which are not dependent
upon “improving conversation,” but which spring from the opportunity to
be near and to talk with those we love; and those pleasures which come
from meditation on life and its meaning, but which do not involve any
effort to straighten out its tangles. “Improving” conversation and
efforts to achieve artistic appreciation and to make the world better
are parts of life, but they are also parts of its struggle, and
therefore must be excluded from “the joys of mere living.”

If these pleasures that are _ends_ and in no sense _means_ are a
legitimate part of life, they must be taken into consideration not only
in adjusting the machinery of our own lives so as to have time for them,
but also in adjusting the machinery of home-making so as to secure them
for others. I know a woman who has four of the healthiest and happiest
children in the country. She is also the fortunate possessor of horses
and a carriage. If the day dawns bright and the woods seem to call for
her, she has the horses harnessed, bundles the children into the
carriage, puts a basket under the seat, and starts off down the street.
On the way she picks up a congenial spirit or two, and stopping at the
market fills her basket with bread and fruit and cooked meat or other
kinds of food that can be bought ready for eating. Then, with no more
ado than this, she is off for a whole day of “the joys of mere living”
in the woods. This she is able to do because she has simplified the
machinery of her home-making by excluding useless decorations from
furnishings and clothing. Nor is it to be understood that she has
thereby traded off the pleasures of beautiful home surroundings for the
joys of frequent glimpses of nature. Her windows command broad views of
lake and lawn, in the presence of which elaborate draperies would seem
like impertinences, and her children have bright eyes and clear skins
and well-developed figures, which plain clothing sets off better than
ruffles and flounces.

In passing, we must not fail to note that this woman has done something
more than to simplify housekeeping. She has also simplified the
machinery of picnics--a great art. We have not, all of us, horses and
carriages, but we can get some kind of conveyance--an electric car, if
nothing better--and we can pick up on the way to the picnic food which
will taste just as good in the open air as that over which we frequently
wear ourselves out before starting.

It is interesting to see how things work themselves out in this world.
We used to clean house in the spring. Although spring is violet time,
and a season of enormous possibilities in the way of real living, yet
this custom for many years worked little hardship, because most people
lived reasonably near to nature all the time. Later, however, life
became so artificial that we really needed occasional excursions into
the country. Then, too, the kindergartens began to teach the children
to _see_ and to enjoy nature. Then, just in the nick of time, just as we
had encountered the need of and the incentive to trips into the country,
the necessity for “spring cleaning” was taken away. We began to have
hardwood or painted floors, which made it possible to do housecleaning a
little at a time all the year around. Thus there is now no great piece
of work left to be done in the spring, when we really ought to be in the

Perhaps the most interesting of the recent movements in the direction of
simplifying housework is that in favor of sun-dried underwear, towels,
bed linen, etc. This stands for another “working together for good.”
When life became complex we began to begrudge the time necessary for
ironing, and sometimes, if we thought we could use our time more
profitably than in ironing, we used our clothes “rough-dried.” But now
we no longer speak of “rough-dried” clothes, because that suggests only
their negative advantage in saving work; but we say “sun-dried,” because
hygienists have told us that articles that contain in their meshes
fresh, sunned air are more healthful than those that contain the impure
air of kitchen or laundry. They have told us, also, that because air is
a poor conductor of heat, and because clothes that have not been pressed
contain more air than those that have, we can get more protection from a
given weight of underwear that has been sun-dried than from the same
weight of that which has been ironed.

But no one is going to make effort to get time for “the joys of mere
living” until he sees a prospect of getting them. For a long time we
have recognized the possibility of getting these pleasures in large
quantities in the summer time, during our vacations, but we have not
recognized half the chances that lie about us all the year. Of all
seasons the winter seems most unpromising, and yet I have experienced
more joy from simply being alive in the winter than at any other time.
On the greater part of the west shore of Lake Michigan there is a bluff.
This serves to protect the shore from the west winds which prevail in
that part of the world, and it also receives and reflects the morning
sun. In cold weather the sand is hard and as easy to walk upon as a
cement walk. On winter mornings, even when the thermometer is below
zero, one can walk along the shore in perfect comfort in clothing that
is light enough to make walking pleasurable. It is possible, also, with
perfect comfort, to stop and build a fire, make coffee, and eat a lunch.
And the lake and the sky present constant but ever changing beauties,
and the sun sparkles on the ice that is heaped up near the shore. It is
indeed good to be alive on the west shore of Lake Michigan of a bright
winter’s morning, and yet, although I have spent hours walking on the
shore on Saturday mornings, I have never seen a person besides those who
were with me. Where are the mothers? Why don’t they bring their children
down there? Don’t they know the fun of tramping up the shore and
building fires and having little camp lunches, and of watching the
winter landscape? This is but one instance of joys that are within the
reach of all, and yet are undiscovered. Doubtless each one of us knows
of some others such as these, and wonders why others do not avail
themselves of them. If so, let’s tell each other about them.

But we lose joys in life not only by failing to find them and by
complicating the machinery of life, but also by making machinery of
those things which are really ends in themselves. There is bathing, for
example. We take baths so many times a day or week in order to keep
clean and healthy. We might, if we arranged things properly, forget
about the necessity for health and cleanliness, and jump into the bath
just for the sake of “the cool, silver shock of the plunge.” We
perfunctorily “change the air” in our homes so many times each day, but
it is possible to get so enamored of living out of doors as to find even
the stillness of the air in the house unbearable. When one has reached
that point an open window is no longer a means to health, but a part of
the joy of living, because it brings the sensation of moving air.

What a difference, too, between a walk and a “constitutional”! I shall
never forget a woman whom I saw one summer at a resort in one of the
most beautiful parts of the Adirondacks. She used to come forth of a
morning after breakfast and, with a set, determined look upon her face,
walk so many times around the veranda, and then retire to the parlor for
the rest of the day. Poor lady! I suppose she never saw that woodsy path
that led up the hill behind the house, nor knew the joys of “leaping
from rock up to rock” in order to get to the top of the hill, nor
dreamed of the beauties of the moss-covered rock at the top, with the
red-berried bush hanging over it. She never knew the pleasures of
getting lost in the cranberry bog and having to wade the stream to get
out. Poor, poor lady!

As for the joys of social intercourse with those we love, we lose them
partly by letting them get mixed up with the machinery of education.
Study clubs are all very well in their way and in their place, but there
is such a thing as having too many of them. It is possible to get more
profit as well as more pleasure from reading a masterpiece of literature
for half an hour, and then talking with a friend for an hour and a
half, than from listening to a rehash of the masterpiece for an hour
and then talking with a lot of people we only half like for another
hour. It is possible, also, to lose the pleasures of the expression of
friendship by sacrificing them to formalities. If we give dinners and
receptions simply for the sake of discharging social obligations, we are
bound to throw away time which for the sake of the joy of living ought
to be given to those we love.

But it is possible, also, to lose the pleasures of friendship by
allowing them to interfere with the machinery of daily life, and to come
to a time when we have to sacrifice either social intercourse or
business. Perhaps there is no means of entertaining which yields so much
satisfaction with so little interference with that regularity in the
daily program that is necessary for health and work as the afternoon
tea. By this I mean, not the large reception which sometimes goes by the
name of “tea,” but the little, informal tea drinking. The food that is
served at such a time is not a means of life, but simply an addition to
the dietary made for the sake of refreshment and pleasure. It is not,
therefore, necessary to serve enough to sustain life from one meal to
another. Moreover, it is possible to buy ready prepared all the
materials--the biscuits, the wafers, and the candies--and to have them
always on hand. If busy people have it understood that they drink tea at
a certain hour when at home, and that their friends are always welcome
to drink with them, they are likely to get visits with real friends
which they could never get in any other way.

But there is another occupation which may be an end in life without at
the same time being a means. That is meditation on life and its meaning.
To stand off from life and to view its follies, its foibles, and its
inconsistencies, its pathos, its humor, to see all sides of it--this is
one of the joys of mere living. Perhaps the best time for this is during
a walk in town, and it is the chance to see life that can change a
constitutional upon city pavements from a means to life to a part of
life itself. He who is too busy with the machinery of life to get a
chance to look upon life itself, as upon a drama, loses half the joy of

To stretch the muscles, to breathe deeply, to feel the blood circulate
rapidly, to feel the wind blowing in one’s face, to love and to express
love, to stand off and see life from afar--these are joys for which it
is worth while to simplify the machinery of life.


We all seek beauty. We want the beauty of form and of color which
appeals to the eye, but we want also the greater beauties which, because
they belong, not to material, but to immaterial things, make their
appeal to the conscience and to the intellect, rather than to the
senses. We want the beauties of lives in harmony with their physical and
their social environment.

Esthetics is the philosophy of beauty. A narrow conception of its
province makes it concern itself exclusively with the beauties of
material things. A broader and better conception brings into its
province all beauties, including those of life and of character and of
harmonious human relations.

Home Economics, like Esthetics, finds a large part of its interest in
material things. The objects of its concern, the common articles of
every-day use, such as chairs, tables, beds, and bureaus, present the
beauty problem in many, if not all, of its phases. Being material, they
are capable of beauty of outline and color. Being tools for the
expression of the tastes of their owner or user, and for the
satisfaction of his desires, they are capable of giving to his life the
beauty of harmony with its material surroundings. Being made and sold
and oftentimes cared for by others than the user, they are capable of
giving beauty by bringing his life into accord and into sympathetic
relations with other lives. There are, then, places where Home Economics
and Esthetics overlap.

As there is a narrow and also a wide view of Esthetics, so there is a
narrow and also a wide view of Home Economics. The former makes it deal
exclusively with the details of household management; the latter makes
its chief concern the problem of the adjustment, through home life, of
the individual to society.

Where Home Economics and Esthetics, considered in their restricted
senses, meet, we have a field of inquiry legitimate in itself, but
fearfully liable to suffer by losing connection with life and with vital
interests. This common ground we call the art of House Decoration. It
concerns itself with the form, color, and ornamentation of articles of
house furnishing and with the problem of so arranging them as to please
the eye.

But House Decoration is not the only common ground between Home
Economics and Esthetics. Considered broadly, the two subjects present an
overlapping territory coextensive almost with life itself. On this
field, which no one has ever named, there present themselves for
investigation not only the finer articles of household utility--the
furniture, the curtains, and the draperies--but also the meaner and
commoner articles--the pots, even, and the pans. Each one of these
demands to be studied, not only with reference to its power to give
esthetic satisfaction through the sight, but also with reference to its
fitness to serve the purpose for which it was created, with reference to
its usefulness in the particular life with which it is associated, and
with reference to the possibility of there being anything in the
circumstances of its manufacture or sale or in the conditions of its
care--anything of injustice or oppression--which has the power to
destroy the beauty of the life of the user by throwing it out of harmony
with that of the maker, or of the seller, or of the caretaker.

The desire to make home beautiful we have always with us. At times it
gets planted where it can draw nourishment only from that part of the
field of Household Decoration which is not only narrow, but, because it
is cut off from connection with life, is shallow also. Planted there
where there is no deepness of earth it sprouts with fearful rapidity.
Many housekeepers seem to have planted it in such spots about the middle
of the last century. The result was a prodigious growth--three sets of
curtains in every window, sofa pillows upon which no one was ever
allowed, and no one ever wished to lay his head, grill work for
archways, plaques, and sometimes even embroidered banners and painted
tambourines to hang upon the wall. At intervals, fortunately, new
fashions arose and turned their blazing rays full on these marvelous
growths, and because they were not rooted in utility they withered away
and were sent to the junk shop or were given to the poor. The soil was
then ready for another crop.

But better times came. Great thinkers and teachers and artists,
including the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, began to concern
themselves with the beauty of the common things of life--with the
_lesser_ arts. They taught people to consider in the selection of house
furnishings, not only color and form and design, but also the welfare of
the maker and the possibilities of his development through his work.
They suggested that even the seller, the cleaner, and the caretaker
should be considered. Those who listened to their teachings and followed
their example learned to plant deep the desire for beauty in material
surroundings; and because they knew that they had much to learn and many
lives to consider, they adopted a form of house furnishing whose chief
characteristic was simplicity. It was a tiny growth which was put forth
by those who had caught the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, but
it was sturdy, and in time it grew large enough to attract the attention
even of the thoughtless. They, being ever ready for something new,
looked upon the material output of the Arts and Crafts Societies, and,
failing entirely to appreciate the spirit lying back of the work, seized
upon simplicity as an end in itself.

The result was another prodigious growth of house furnishings, this time
very simple ones. Thus simplicity, which in the mind of William Morris
stood for sincerity and for beauty of life, became a mockery, being
manifested only in the outward form and finish of articles that had been
made under conditions that had crushed out life and hope and had damaged
character. There probably never was a greater travesty on a righteous
movement than much of the stuff now sold as “Arts and Crafts” furniture.

And so _simplification_ has become the motto of the unthinking as well
as of the thinking, and is at present the butt of the ridicule of the
funny man, and threatens to become as much of a stumbling-block to the
mind, if not to the feet, as the passion for decoration was a few years
ago. For this reason it seems fitting, in a series of articles which
deal with the home problem in relation to the problem of more life for
all, to inquire whether simplification can be the means of expanding
life by increasing beauty.

The greatest stumbling-block, perhaps, which simplification has laid in
our way is the temptation to think of it as an end in itself. This it
never is and never can be. The flowers, with their bewildering
complexity of structure; the birds, with their brilliant plumage; the
cathedrals of the Old World, with their elaborate ornamentation, laugh
at the very suggestion. I may take down curtains, because by so doing I
can sit in the house and watch the clouds float by, or lie in bed and
look at the stars, or get time to make excursions to see the sun set
over the lake or the moon rise; but that does not necessarily mean that
life would not be richer with both the curtains and the natural
beauties. I may, feeling that I am not educated in form and in the
principles of ornamentation, buy a table with straight and absolutely
plain legs, because I know that such a table fulfills the first law of
beauty for articles of utility, that of fitness to purpose, and because
I prefer not to trust my judgment further; but that does not mean that a
table of some other form and more ornate might not serve its purpose as
well and be more pleasing to the eye. I may select one kind of pottery
in preference to another infinitely more beautiful in form and finish
and decoration, because I know that by buying the first I give some one
a chance to express himself and to gain happiness and development
through work, while by buying the second I am simply putting money into
the pocket of some one who is exploiting for gain the talents of others.
In each one of these cases the simplification was not an end in itself,
but the result of recognizing and accepting a limitation, arising in one
case from lack of time and energy, in another from lack of knowledge, in
another from unjust social conditions.

Since real, true, purposeful simplification involves self-sacrifice, no
person may force it upon another. Each person must decide for himself,
in the light of the conditions of his own life, how much of the beauty
which appeals to the eye he ought to sacrifice for the greater beauties
of harmony and social justice. One may, however, remind another that
simplification may bring with it beauties of form, of color, and of
design, as well as those of lives in harmony with their social

Simplification in manner of life, in dress, and in house furnishings may
bring the greatest of all material beauties--that of the human form. One
of the most melancholy sights in the world is that of a sallow, wizened
lady, befrizzled and befurbelowed. When that same woman is set down amid
the bric-a-brac which has helped to wear her out, the sight becomes
pathetic as well as melancholy. One cannot help wondering what the
effect would be if such a woman should wear plain gowns and dispose of
the bric-a-brac, and spend the time saved in lying out in the fresh air,
and the saved money on eggnogs and cream and cocoa and other easily
digested, fattening foods. It is probable that if the modern
tuberculosis cure in all of its details respecting rest and fresh air
and sunlight and food should be taken for six months by all the women
who could take it without sacrificing more than the purchase of a spring
suit or a pair of curtains, the world’s supply of beauty in the form of
bright eyes and pink cheeks and rounded figures would be increased ten
and possibly a hundredfold.

The increase of enjoyment of the beauties of nature which comes with
reduction of care has been spoken of so often that in spite of its
importance it need not be again mentioned here. The reduction of care is
not the only way in which simplification brings natural beauty, however.
Plain, uncarved woodwork and furniture reveal the natural beauties of
the wood. Unpolished surfaces make it possible to have plants here,
there, everywhere, on window sills or tables, wherever they can be most
often seen and most easily cared for.

Next, simplification may lead to increase in the beauty of house
furnishings themselves. If we go through the house and challenge every
article to prove that it is worthy of its care--worthy to be taken down
and dusted three hundred and sixty-five times every year or fifty-two
times, as the case may be--and dispose of all those which do not pass
muster, thus getting down to rock bottom in our possessions, there are
likely to be two results. The first will be the revelation of the
uglinesses of the rock bottom; the second will be time to learn how to
beautify it. And beauty in the rock bottom--in floors and walls and in
necessary furniture--is very little trouble to care for, and frequently
destroys the craving for superficial decorations. By the use of all
sorts of ornaments we have blinded ourselves to the possible structural
beauty of a room, a beauty due to proportion, and to the proper placing
of openings, and of the necessary fixtures. Most of us need time to
study good architectural forms, and some of us can get that time only by
relieving ourselves of the care of knickknacks.

Sometimes the removal of one article of questionable beauty will bring
to light others that may be the source of esthetic enjoyment. A table
crowded in among other pieces of furniture and covered with a cloth may
be ugly without any one’s being the wiser. If we uncover it and make it
stand out in bold relief its ugliness will come to light. Under these
circumstances, however, we may discover that its outlines are really
beautiful, but are spoiled by machine-turned trimmings. A little
judicious use of a saw or a plane, a little attention to the finish, and
we may have a thing of real beauty.

Finally, simplification gives us time to study the conditions under
which the articles in use in our home are made, sold, cared for, and
cleaned; and the willingness to have few things may make it possible to
know that those we have were made under conditions that favored the
health and happiness of the maker, and that those who care for them are
neither overworked nor under-paid. In the light of this knowledge the
barest and plainest of houses appears beautiful, because it becomes the
expression of harmony between the life within and the life without.

Simplification, then, though not an end to be sought for itself alone,
may be the means of elaborating life by increasing the beauty of the
human body, by bringing in the beauties of nature, by inspiring us to,
and giving us time for, the study of the principles of true art, and by
bringing our lives into sympathetic relations with other lives.


More pleasure for the producer of household stuff! And who is he or she?
_He_ used to be the village cabinet maker at work in a little shop, with
a few friends, making furniture for his neighbor’s use. _She_ used to be
the housewife working at home, with her daughters, at spindle or at
loom, making tablecloths and napkins, bed furnishings, and carpets for
use in her own family. Now the cabinet maker, having deserted his little
shop, has moved up to town and become an employee in a great
manufacturing establishment; and the housewife, having ceased entirely
from producing, is trying to content herself with buying and with using.
The producer of household stuff today is neither housewife nor village
cabinet maker, but a factory “hand.”

The producer of old had pleasures of which the producer of the present
knows not. He had the quiet and safety and healthfulness of a small
shop. He had common interest with fellow-workers and apprentices in
village politics or in church affairs. Best of all, perhaps, there was a
personal quality in his work, because it was done for friends or for
acquaintances, and an ever present sense of its importance, because it
met needs which he had seen and recognized and which his own manner of
life, similar to that of the consumer and on the same social plane,
prepared him to understand. He had, for example, possibly known for
months that his neighbor was saving money with which to hire him to make
the chest of drawers upon which he was working, and there was a zest and
a delight in his labor because he knew just how much she needed the
piece of furniture, just where it was to stand, and just what purpose it
was to serve. The favorable conditions of the work, the pleasant
surroundings, the personal quality of labor, the feeling of its direct
usefulness, were intensified in case of the housewife who worked in her
own house with and for those she loved.

Now conditions are different. The factory hand spends his working day in
a great, dingy shop, with the maddening din of machinery in his ears.
His associates are strangers, with whom he has little or nothing in
common besides his work. He labors for an indefinite, far-away consumer
whose manner of life is unknown to him. He has with this consumer
neither the fellow-feeling which comes from sharing life in the same
community, nor its only substitute, the ability which comes from broad
education and from travel to project one’s self in imagination across
space and to put one’s self in the place of a stranger and to realize
his needs.

The industrial changes which have taken from the producer a large part
of his pleasure in work have not, of course, been without their
compensating advantages. Of these the chief, perhaps, has come to the
housewife, and consists in the opportunity to buy, ready made and at low
cost, most of the articles which it used to be necessary for her to make
at home. This advantage, with its corollary, increased leisure, comes
to her, however, in her capacity as consumer and not in that of
producer. When we consider the amount of pleasure which it is possible
to derive from one’s own useful, well-directed labor, compared with that
which comes from buying and using the results of other people’s work, we
know that the permanent substitution of the consumer’s advantage for the
producer’s joy in labor cannot be a part of progress. If the world is to
move forward, the consumer’s leisure, which is the chief advantage of
the present system of production, must be made the means of restoring
the maker’s pleasure in his work.

Without attempting to analyze all the changes which resulted in the
worker’s present hapless condition, it may be said that the loss of his
joy in labor was directly due to loss of sympathy between him and the
consumer of his wares. This loss of sympathy was in turn due to a
separation which was partly physical and partly spiritual. The physical
separation took place when the producer went to live in a factory town
or in a city district devoted to manufacturing interests, and when the
consumer sought refuge in a suburb or in a city district boasting of its
freedom from factories. Ignorance on the part of each of the daily life
and needs of the other was the inevitable consequence of this form of
separation. The separation in spirit took place when the world divided
itself sharply into two groups--brain workers, on the one hand, who
joined themselves with the leisure classes to form a consuming public;
and manual laborers, on the other, who assumed all the handwork of
production. With the difference in the character of work and the loss of
common interests and aims which followed this division, there came an
estrangement more profound than that which mere distance has power to

If the producer is again to have delight in his work, sympathy between
him and the consumer must be restored. This will never take place so
long as the latter contents himself with good-natured, patronizing
expression of interest. The two must again know the fellow-feeling which
can come only from sharing a common life, common associations, and
common aspirations.

At present, when the workers are huddling themselves together around the
factories, and the buyers and users are withdrawing themselves to
country homes, while part of the consuming public is actively hostile to
the welfare of the producer, while another part is indifferent, and
while still another part, though neither hostile nor indifferent, is
handicapped by poverty and the pressure of daily needs, and almost
compelled to buy commodities in the cheapest market, without reference
to the conditions of their production, it seems idle to talk about
restoring sympathy. And yet, in spite of the apparent hopelessness of
the present situation, there is an occasional promising sign which
points to a better state of things in the future.

Encouragement lies not so much in what has already been accomplished as
in certain conditions and circumstances which provide that ever happy
and hopeful combination, the will and the way. The will is shown in the
growing disposition of the home-maker, who of all consumers exercises
greatest control over the producer, to assume responsibility not only
for the one who labors in her kitchen or sewing room, but also for the
one who works for her in the far-off factory. The way has already
appeared in the rough in the form of leisure, and it is interesting to
note that certain changes which are taking place in society are
smoothing out the path and giving the home-maker a fair chance of
accomplishing something when she chooses to devote her leisure to the
effort to restore sympathetic relations between the makers and the users
of household stuff.

The first condition of sympathy is knowledge. The housekeeper used to
get acquainted with the one who made the articles in use in her home
naturally and in the course of her ordinary daily occupations. Now she
can get acquainted only by an effort independent of her regular work.
This effort must usually take the form of reading and study. Here, of
course, is where the advantage of her new-found leisure appears, but
even the desire to learn and the time in which to learn would avail
little if it were not for the fact that the means of securing
information are continually improving. The student of social conditions
has come out of his library and is living among men as well as among
books. He is going down where the industrial war is being waged most
fiercely, and is gaining at first hand knowledge concerning the toiling
masses. The information thus secured he is giving to the public partly
through his college class work. There was a time, even after colleges
were opened to girls, when knowledge so given would have been
unavailable for the housekeeper. Now no one is ever too old to go to
school, and no one feels out of place in school. But the woman who
cannot take systematic courses in economics and sociology still has a
chance to learn. She can get information by residence in settlements,
from books and periodicals, and through summer assemblies and university
extension lectures. Thus the will which is manifested in a quickened
social conscience is finding the way in improved methods of spreading

It is not, however, enough for the consumer to know the producer. The
latter also must have opportunity to get acquainted with the world for
which he labors. If he is to feel the usefulness of his work he must
have a good general education and a broad outlook. These no boy or girl
has at the age of ten or even fourteen, and few are able to obtain if
taken from school at that early age. The years of childhood must, as
Mrs. Kelley says, “be held sacred to the work of education and free from
the burden of wage-earning.” A second hopeful sign of the times lies in
the fact that women are uniting in the effort to extend and to enforce
laws against child labor and in favor of compulsory education, and are
striving to improve the public school system and to adapt it to the
needs of the children of those whom we call “the working classes.”

But if children are to become intelligent and joyful workers they must
have good physical and mental and moral inheritance and good home care.
They must have healthy and wise mothers. Among the means of producing
such mothers we may not include night work in factories for women and
girls, nor long hours of day work, nor even short hours at certain
harmful and dangerous occupations. The investigations which are being
made in the United States at present into the conditions of women’s work
are most significant. To encourage such investigations and the
legislation for the protection of future mothers, which will inevitably
follow, is as much the duty of the home-maker as to provide a
comfortable room for her household helper. Her home profits by the work
of women in factories quite as much as it does by that of domestic

But second-hand information concerning the toilers can lead to nothing
further than measures for the alleviation of their woes. If real
fellow-feeling is to be restored, producer and consumer must get
acquainted through actual contact. They must share the same life. This
immediately suggests, of course, life for the consumer under the pall of
factory smoke. But the conditions under which commodities are made
ought not to be so hideous as they are. There is no place too beautiful
to be the workshop of a human being. Our ideal for the future must be
for every man to have a little plot of ground, and to live and to work
where he can say:

    “I’m glad the sky is painted blue,
       And the earth is painted green,
     With such a lot of nice, fresh air
       All sandwiched in between.”

When the producer finds a place like that, the consumer will be glad to
live next door to him.

And is this an idle dream of a Utopia beyond all possibility of
realization? Well, there is earth enough surely, and every day the
electric cars and telephones are making it possible for us to spread out
over the land without getting out of communication with the world. It
may be possible for the producer of the future to live next door to the
consumer without being very close to him.

Then half, at least, of the machinery which makes the worker an
undesirable neighbor is unnecessary, whether we consider his needs or
the consumer’s. From the point of view of the latter, this unnecessary
machinery is being used in manufacturing abominable trash, or in making
articles to take the place of others which were badly made and faded or
fell to pieces, or wore out before their time. From the point of view of
the worker, much of our modern machinery saves labor which it would be
life and health and happiness for him to perform by hand. All the
assistance he needs from machinery is a little power to take the place
of his muscular energy and to save his strength and vitality for brain
work. He wants a machine which shall be his slave as he works out his
designs into useful and beautiful articles, not a tyrant which he must
“tend” all day long. A small machine is a much better slave than a big
one. If the workers should spread themselves out over the country with
their small machines, this would not mean the sacrifice of any real good
in the present system. Improved methods of transmitting power are making
it possible for each community to have a central power plant from which
energy may be sent to run the seamstress’s sewing machine, the
carpenter’s lathe, the potter’s wheel, and the rug-maker’s loom. Thus
the present desire to simplify life and the present dissatisfaction with
the flimsiness of the average factory-made article, which create a
demand for a smaller and better product, combine with improved means for
transportation, for communication, and for transmission of power to make
it practicable for small workshops to take the place, to a certain
extent, of large factories, and to make it possible for the producer of
household stuff to become a desirable neighbor.

The shops that are springing up all over the country in connection with
technical schools show the advantages of labor under good conditions. In
addition to the students’ workrooms there is usually, in connection with
these schools, a shop where men are employed to make furniture and other
articles for the institution. The demands of instruction make it
possible to equip these shops with apparatus which would otherwise be
too costly. Such places offer a man pleasant conditions for work, a
stimulus to mental activity, and an opportunity to see the direct
results of his labor. I have in mind such a school and shop. There, one
day, the girls of the cooking class served orange ice and rolled wafers
to the engineer and the carpenter. I felt sure that, good as the ice and
wafers were, they tasted better to the carpenter because they were
passed on a tray he had made, and to the engineer because he had made
the tins on which the wafers were baked. There is a satisfaction in
seeing the products of one’s labor in actual use.

Another hopeful sign lies in the fact that illustrated magazines which
are published in the interests of the Arts and Crafts movement and of
household decoration are spreading knowledge of design and are making it
desirable to hire work done by local cabinet makers. In the Northwestern
University Settlement, in Chicago, there is good furniture, including a
beautiful round table for the reading room, which was made in a small
shop after designs furnished by one of the residents.

It is not even enough, however, for the producer and consumer to come
into contact. They must have the same interests. These common interests
the manual training schools are supplying. Such schools are training the
children of the rich to work with their hands. At the same time they are
offering an education of more immediate practical value than was the
purely cultural education of old, and are for this reason attracting the
children of the poor, who used to be put early to work. The young people
who are to be the manual laborers of the future are getting their
apprenticeship under conditions which give culture and general
information. Thus the technical school tends to destroy the class
distinction between brain workers and hand workers.

There is, however, a suspicion that some manufacturers, under the cloak
of interest in technical education, are advocating the extension of
manual training courses for their own selfish purposes, rather than for
the general good; that they are seeking to increase the number of
skilled workers among whom they may choose, and to make themselves
independent of labor organizations. It is fair to the labor
organizations to hear both sides in this, as in other matters where
there seems to be a conflict of interests between employer and employed.
Through the Woman’s Trade Union League, which has branches in most of
our large cities, housekeepers may learn the women workers’ side as it
is presented by themselves.

There is encouragement also in the revival of the handicrafts. A few
people are making articles of household utility because they like the
work. These people are living examples of joy in labor. The movement is
important, also, because it tends to the establishment of democratic
relations. Experience has shown that when a woman whose connections have
been entirely with those who shared her ability to buy and to spend
becomes seriously interested in some form of handiwork her whole manner
of life changes. She is no longer free to participate in purposeless
social functions. To her studio teas she is likely to welcome those who
are working at her own or at similar crafts without reference to their
social position. Thus gradually and naturally and without any sudden
severing of relationships she passes from the aristocracy of those who
_have_ to the aristocracy of those who _do_. It may be that in this way
real sympathy between classes is to be restored.

In spite of hopeful signs, the great mass of those who produce our
household stuff still work under conditions which arrest bodily and
mental development, shorten life, and crush out happiness. There is not
enough encouragement in the present situation to lull to inactivity any
one who is interested in the improvement of the producer’s conditions,
but just enough to prevent complete discouragement and to suggest
promising fields for future work in the interest of those who make what
others use.


The consumer is he who uses wealth. Each of us, therefore, is a
consumer. The wealth which we use is of two classes. The first includes
natural products; the second, those commodities which have been made
from natural products through human agency. To the first class belongs
the wild berry which one picks for his own use, and for which he is
beholden to no one. To the second belongs the cultivated berry, which is
served to one at his own table without labor or forethought on his part.
The second berry may be considered to be the first one plus the thought
and ingenuity and manual labor that were expended in cultivating,
transporting, and serving it. Of the first kind of wealth, the average
consumer uses ever less, of the second ever more, and thus his
dependence upon his fellows increases.

A person uses wealth for the purpose of satisfying his desires. But
other people as well as he have desires, which must be satisfied, if at
all, by natural wealth or by natural wealth adapted to human use by
human agency. Of unsatisfied desires the world is full. Some, to be
sure, are unworthy, but after we have stricken these out, the number is
still appalling. We want food, and good food. Some of us go hungry, and
some get sick because we are forced to eat bad food. We want safe water,
and thousands of us die every year because we cannot get it. We want
parks or large open spaces, with good roads and paths and plenty of
comfortable seats, with green grass, flowers, trees, playgrounds,
gymnasiums, and lunch rooms. We want beautiful factories and public
buildings, good schools, and libraries. We want beautiful houses,
furniture, clothes. Of these good things some of us have all, more of us
have only part, and many of us have none.

When we try to explain the fact that so many legitimate desires are
unfulfilled, the first reason that occurs to us is the fact that wealth
is not fairly distributed. This no one can gainsay. No one pretends
that incomes are proportioned to desert, to need, or even to men’s
capacity for using them for the public good. This, however, is a fact
over which the average person has little control. The most he can do is
to give moral support to the specialist who is trying to think out a
fairer means of distribution.

There is, however, another reason for want, the responsibility for which
comes nearer home. This is the tremendous waste involved in our present
method of making and distributing commodities. As a people we seem to
have little idea of measuring our resources, our natural wealth, and the
productive power that lies in our hands and brains up against our needs,
and of using them wisely and economically for the general good. Although
we understand the relation between good food and physical efficiency, we
spend time and energy in coloring, adulterating, and otherwise
sophisticating wholesome, natural food materials. We make numberless
articles of the same general character and of approximately the same
merit or demerit, and then we spend enough energy exploiting them to
feed all the hungry in the land. We know the relation of clothing to
health and to the development of taste, and yet we multiply many fold
the amount of labor necessary to clothe ourselves by making textile
fabrics which fade, shrink, and wear out prematurely. We need strong,
skillful, intelligent workers in every line of activity, and we know
that these can be produced only by careful training and education; and
yet, in some states, West Virginia, for example, we send little boys as
young as twelve into the mines to work all day underground, and we allow
girls of the same age to work in ill-ventilated shops, leaving them
oftentimes to find their way home after nightfall through the worst
districts of our great cities.

But some one says: “I am not responsible. I am the buyer and user, not
the maker nor the seller. I determine neither what shall be made nor the
conditions under which it shall be made.” To which the answer comes in
no uncertain accents from two sources: from the shopkeeper, on the one
hand, who says in the words so familiar to us all, “There is no demand
for it, so I do not keep it in stock”; and from the social economist, on
the other, who says, “The producing man is essentially the servant of
the consuming man, and the final direction of industry lies with the

If the consumers of wealth, by their demands, determine what shall be
made and under what conditions it shall be made and sold, what shall we
say of the housewife and her responsibility? She holds a unique position
among consumers. She buys not only that which she herself uses, but much
of that which the adult members of her family, and all of that which her
young children consume. Thus she assumes vicariously their
responsibility and holds their consciences. This is one of the great
social burdens which a woman takes upon herself when she makes a home.

To understand the problem of the home-maker, in her capacity as consumer
and buyer, we must remember that there are “two distinct
responsibilities. One is the responsibility for the conditions under
which things are made, the other is the responsibility for their being
made at all.” The first is for waste of life and productive power
through child labor, underpay, and unsanitary places for work. This can
be met only by organized methods. The second, the responsibility for the
fact that one article is made instead of another which would have
satisfied a larger number of real wants, each home-maker must meet
individually by careful and conscientious regulation of her own

That some women have accepted the first form of responsibility, the
existence and growth of the National Consumers’ League, with its various
state and local branches, testify. The object of this league is to
investigate, as the individual can not, the conditions under which
articles are made. Wishing to do thoroughly what it undertakes, it is at
present confining its attention to one branch of industry, and that a
branch in which the waste of human life is conspicuous--“the manufacture
of women’s and children’s stitched white cotton underwear.” This
industry lends itself readily to sweatshop methods, with all the
attendant danger to the consumer from contagious diseases, to the worker
from the lowering of wages and of the standard of living.

The way in which the league works may be briefly described. Upon request
of a manufacturer it investigates his shop. If it finds that the state
factory law is obeyed, that all goods are made on the premises, that
overtime is not worked, that no children under sixteen are employed, and
that the surroundings of the workers are clean and healthful, it grants
the use of its label. This label can, if the manufacturer so desires, be
stamped on all goods that leave his factory.

The investigations of the league naturally lead to activities of other
kinds. It is often found that the only objection to granting the use of
the label is the fact that children under sixteen are employed. If this
is in accordance with the state factory law, the next thing to do is to
get the law changed. This is usually the task which the state leagues
take upon themselves. The work of these state leagues has recently been
summarized by the national league and published in the form of a
handbook, which may be obtained from the headquarters in New York City.

After the label has been granted, there must be a market for the goods.
The creation of a demand for label goods is one of the duties of the
local branches that are springing up in many cities and towns. Besides
this, these branches prepare, in some cities, for the convenience of
purchasers, “white lists” of shops which reach certain standards with
reference to wages and to treatment of their employees. They urge the
granting of half holidays during the summer months, and seek to save
clerks and delivery men from the horrors of the Christmas trade by
inducing people to do their shopping early in the season and to refuse
to receive any goods delivered late at night.

The members of the league recognize the fact that their power to protect
themselves and to clear their consciences with reference to that which
they use lies in their ability to organize. They recognize also that
below them is a class of buyers too weak and too ignorant to band
together for the protection either of themselves or of those who make
and sell the grade of goods which they use. A large part of its work,
therefore, is educational, and aims to bring the public up to a point
where it will demand protection for all consumers and all workers. To
this end it distributes annually large quantities of valuable

The league has been obliged lately to turn much of its attention to the
establishment of the constitutionality of many of the laws passed for
the protection of women and children. That great victory by which the
Oregon law limiting the hours of women’s labor was declared
constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States was won chiefly
through its efforts. Encouraged by this decision, it is renewing its
efforts in other states.

But in connection with the distribution of household commodities, as
well as in connection with their production, there are shameful wastes.
In order to advertise their wares, some manufacturers disfigure towns
and routes of travel with hideous billboards, and injure or destroy
natural beauties. I stood on the platform of the station at Harper’s
Ferry, one beautiful September day, and looked across the river to a
magnificent bluff crowned with autumn foliage. There on the rocky face
of the bluff had been painted an enormous round advertisement, with
white letters nine feet high on a background of black. It read, “Use
Blank’s Talcum Powder.” Blank’s talcum had up to that time been a
household commodity with me. Since then, of course, I have used other
brands. But of what use in combating an evil of this sort is my
individual protest except as a source of satisfaction to myself, a
revenge for the disfigurement of a favorite view? I am much more
effective as a member of the American Civic Association, which is making
organized warfare against the advertising evil, than I am as a private
protester and complainer, even if I take no further part in its work
than to contribute my yearly dues. In some such organized movement
against the evils connected with distribution housekeepers must join,
if they are to meet their full responsibility.

The home-maker, in her capacity as buyer for a family, is largely
responsible for that which is made as well as for the conditions under
which it is made and the methods employed in its distribution. Here she
must act single-handed, and decide for herself what it is worth while to
buy. In one section of his “Studies in Economics,” William Smart draws a
lesson from the record of his personal expenses. The items of the
account he has grouped under various heads--food, dress, shelter, etc.
With reference to the various heads, he says that if he spends more for
food than he needs for health he gives himself a form of pleasure which
he cannot share with others, and which is of the most fleeting
character. If, on the other hand, he spends more for dress than he
actually needs for comfort, he stands a chance of pleasing the eyes of
others as well as his own, and besides, an article of dress discarded
before it is worn out may keep some one else warm for a long time. Thus
extravagance in dress is likely to give pleasure to more people and for
a longer time than extravagance in food. The third head is “shelter.” If
he puts more into a house than he needs, he may be building not only for
the present, but for future generations. Here he stops, leaving us to go
on in imagination through the other heads, “books,” “travel,” etc. By
this simple illustration he shows to us poor laymen what he means by the
rather appalling title of his article, “The Socializing of Consumption.”
For what is society but other people, and what is it to socialize
consumption but to spend one’s income for the greatest good of the
greatest number? The choice between various forms of expenditure comes
when we spend more than is absolutely necessary. Then we have a chance
to choose between that, which we, by consuming, will destroy (ice cream,
let us say) and that which we can consume and yet pass on to others (a
book or periodical, which we can read and lend to the neighbors). And
what we demand and use will determine the form which wealth will take in
the future.

But no one is going to be able to compare what he needs to spend for a
given item and what he really does spend unless he keeps a strict
account. For this reason we find specialists in home economics urging
women to keep accounts, and to keep them in such form that they can
easily be tabulated so as to show what per cent of the income goes for
food, what for rent, etc. At a home economics exhibit which was held in
connection with a meeting of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ there
was a household cabinet arranged for keeping records according to the
card system. This was filled with cards in actual use by a woman
interested in home economics.

No consideration of the duties of woman as a consumer would be in any
degree complete without mention of her obligation to train her children
to the proper use of that wealth which they have in common with others.
The wealth which we hold in common--public school buildings, parks,
playgrounds, museums, art galleries, streets, and highways--is rapidly
increasing. Children must be trained to think of this wealth as theirs,
and of the obligation to protect it and to use it well as theirs. They
are too likely to think of all the obligations connected with it as
belonging to a far-off, impersonal government. They must be made to see
that the man who follows them about in the park and picks up their
peanut shells and crackerjack boxes might be making or tending a swing
for the delight of scores of children, or a flower bed for the delight
of hundreds. They must be made to see that when they pick out beautiful,
sweet-smelling places for picnics, and leave them strewn with papers,
tin cans, and watermelon rinds, they are not only misusing their own
property, but are interfering with the rights of others who have title
to it also.

There is a way of using wealth which impoverishes the world. There is
another way which enriches it. It is this second way which the
conscientious home-maker is ever seeking to find and to show to her


We have considered the effect of social, industrial, and political
changes upon woman, upon man, upon the household employee, upon the
health and beauty of the home, and upon the relations between the
producer and consumer of wealth. It remains to ask how they are
affecting the home itself, considered as an institution. Are they
tending to cripple and destroy it, or are they merely tending to modify
its external form and the “_minutia_ of its daily usages”? Or is there
perhaps a third and a better possibility that for the very reason that
they are changing its form they are increasing its possibilities for
social usefulness and for the enrichment of individual lives?

These questions can be answered only in the light of a clear distinction
between the spirit of home and the form of home, between the purpose
that lies back of its various activities and the material means which
it employs for the accomplishment of that purpose. To spirit, the one
essential is love. The love that leads to the founding of most homes has
its origin in and springs from sex attraction, but crowns that purely
self-regarding instinct with an unselfish desire for the welfare and
happiness of its object. The impulse may, however, come from the love of
parents who seek satisfactory means of preparing the child for
independent life, or from the love of comrades who seek mutual
helpfulness in close association, or from a love of broader application
which seeks to provide a meeting place for those of like interests and
aspirations. Something there must be of other-regarding affection, or
the spirit is wanting.

Of this unselfish affection home is the expression, and all those
material things which we are in the habit of associating with the home
are the tools of the expression. Roofs and walls, furniture and dishes,
may or may not be part of home. They are such only when they represent
some one’s affectionate desire to secure for another the good things of
life. Since home is an expression of affection, and not a means of
making one’s self comfortable and happy, it follows that it approaches
the ideal in proportion as love is strong and is successfully expressed.
When one loves another very much, he desires that that other person may
attain to completeness of life, and seeks to assist him to make full use
of all the means at hand and to overcome, as far as possible, all those
obstacles which are due to his natural endowment, or to his environment,
and which lie between him and success. Men especially seem to forget
that by means of their homes they can do more than protect their wives
and shield them from hardship; that they can give them positive
assistance in making the most of themselves and of their powers. This is
what the intimate association that the home offers is for. If the home
does not offer the opportunity for mutual understanding, it is a
failure; but if it does not add mutual helpfulness, in the broadest
sense, to mutual understanding, it is a worse failure; and it is
frequently upon the external form of the home that its possibilities for
such helpfulness depend.

Since the chief factor in determining the form of home is the need of
the opportunity for close and intimate and helpful association, we may
disregard the popular fear that the home will finally take upon itself
the characteristics of a public institution, and will cease to offer
facilities for private family life. Human intelligence, which suits
means to ends, and which is ever coming to the aid of human affection,
will prevent that. So long as affection lasts it will seek satisfactory
expression in home life, and so long as intelligence endures it will
stand in the way of the extension of the borders of the home beyond the
possibilities of the mutual helpfulness to its members.

If home is to be a perfect expression of affection, it must not only
provide the opportunity for close association, but it must also from
time to time adjust itself and its activities to the opportunities which
society offers to men and to women in fields unconnected with the
household. If the home-making of either man or woman is to be
satisfactory, it must not interfere unnecessarily or arbitrarily with
the outside work that is offered to the other partner in home-making
enterprise. This rule affects man’s home-making at present more than it
does woman’s, for her opportunities are multiplying more rapidly than
his, and they must be taken into account by him. At present, woman’s
life differs from man’s not so much in the variety of occupations that
are open to her as in the extent to which the home interferes with these
occupations. Part of this interference is, of course, inevitable, being
connected with the bearing and rearing of children; but part is
avoidable, being connected with details of housekeeping which might be
entrusted to specialists. If all women except professional housekeepers
were relieved of the tasks of cooking and cleaning, or of the
superintendence of such work, the external form of the average home
would be somewhat radically changed. Much less of its space would be
given to kitchen and laundry, and it would be planned to accommodate
fewer industries. In this form, however, it might offer even more
facilities for family life than it does now, and even larger
opportunities for close association and mutual helpfulness. It might,
too, offer to man a better chance than he has at present to express his
love for his wife by helping her to take advantage of the opportunities
offered to her outside of the home, and to add the pleasures of the
cultivation and use of special talents to the joys of home and of family

But we have said that the home must at any given time provide those
material and creature comforts which the individual cannot secure
through other channels. Because of their recognition and acceptance of
this fact, women are doing and will probably continue for a long time to
do work of which they might be relieved. It is common to think of this
work as necessary because of the mechanical difficulties lying in the
way of public housekeeping for the benefit of private home-making. As a
matter of fact, most of the difficulties of this kind have been removed.
Food can be prepared satisfactorily in much larger quantities than it is
in private houses. This is proved by the quality of the food that is
served in first-class hotels, restaurants, and clubs. There is a
greater cleanliness than that of private homes. This is proved by the
fact that surgeons insist upon performing operations in hospitals, where
the cleaning is done by specialists under expert direction. A few
problems, those involved in the satisfactory transportation of cooked
food, for example, remain to be solved, but these seem small when
considered in connection with the inventive skill shown in other
industrial enterprises. The real difficulty in the way is, of course,
social rather than mechanical. There seems no doubt that by general
agreement among the housekeepers of a given community to avail
themselves more largely than at present of the results of modern
industrial development, radical changes could be made in the form of the
home and in its activities without decreasing the comfort and enjoyment
of home life.

Perhaps the only real danger to the home lies in the fact that women,
who are its natural protectors, are not free to control the industrial
changes which  affect it, and that these changes are being determined
too largely by commercial interests. Experience has shown that women
have had only a passive part in the removal of industries from the home,
and that business enterprises have had a very active part. It has shown,
also, that these changes have not been followed as speedily as they
should have been by legislation necessary for the control of the
industries under their new conditions. How slowly, for example, the Pure
Food Law followed the factory method of preparing foods! Women must be
freer to work in the interest of the home and of the children. They must
be free from unnecessary labor and care within the home, and able to
work for it in public; they must be free economically, and able to
control their own incomes and to make experiments for themselves in new
methods of housekeeping; they must be free politically, and able to
control, by means of the ballot, public methods of preparing and
transporting food, of caring for streets, of educating children, and of
doing other work which affects the welfare of the home.

Present conditions in the home seem to demand that women must have
greater and not less freedom in its service, greater and not less power
for use in its protection; and so long as love and intelligence last,
they may be expected to use added freedom and added power for the
benefit of family life. They may be expected to do more and not less
work for the home by adding to their work for it in private a public
work demanded by its changed position.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

to make a little revaluation=> to make a little reëvaluation {pg 60}

if the maufacturer so desires=> if the manufacturer so desires {pg 127}

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