The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth-Century America

Overview

In nineteenth-century America, the bourgeois home epitomized family, morality, and virtue. But this era also witnessed massive urban growth and the acceptance of the market as the overarching model for economic relations. A rapidly changing environment bred the antithesis of "home": the urban boardinghouse. In this groundbreaking study, Wendy Gamber explores the experiences of the numerous people—old and young, married and single, rich and poor—who made boardinghouses their ...

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Overview

In nineteenth-century America, the bourgeois home epitomized family, morality, and virtue. But this era also witnessed massive urban growth and the acceptance of the market as the overarching model for economic relations. A rapidly changing environment bred the antithesis of "home": the urban boardinghouse. In this groundbreaking study, Wendy Gamber explores the experiences of the numerous people—old and young, married and single, rich and poor—who made boardinghouses their homes.

Gamber contends that the very existence of the boardinghouse helped create the domestic ideal of the single family home. Where the home was private, the boardinghouse theoretically was public. If homes nurtured virtue, boardinghouses supposedly bred vice. Focusing on the larger cultural meanings and the commonplace realities of women’s work, she examines how the houses were run, the landladies who operated them, and the day-to-day considerations of food, cleanliness, and petty crime.

From ravenous bedbugs to penny-pinching landladies, from disreputable housemates to "boarder's beef," Gamber illuminates the annoyances—and the satisfactions—of nineteenth-century boarding life.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Chronicle of Higher Education - Nina C. Ayoub
Ms. Gamber paints an exhausting picture of the typical landlady's work and expense and the residents' grumblings.
Enterprise and Society - Eric J. Morser
This book is an important scholarly contribution that helps us understand how the most basic challenges of life... had a profound impact on the American past. It is a model of creative social history that encourages scholars to transcend traditional intellectual boundaries and begin new conversations in a fragmented academic world.
American Historical Review - Elaine Frantz Parsons
Crucial reading for scholars interested in the nineteenth-century city, women's work and entrepreneurship, and the development of domestic ideology.
Journal of Social History - Amy S. Greenberg
An excellent and important book that reframes the meaning of the home.
Choice
Gamber does a good job introducing and discussing this once-ubiquitous institution.
Chronicle of Higher Education
Ms. Gamber paints an exhausting picture of the typical landlady's work and expense and the residents' grumblings.

— Nina C. Ayoub

Choice

Gamber does a good job introducing and discussing this once-ubiquitous institution.

Book News
A lively account.
Enterprise and Society
This book is an important scholarly contribution that helps us understand how the most basic challenges of life... had a profound impact on the American past. It is a model of creative social history that encourages scholars to transcend traditional intellectual boundaries and begin new conversations in a fragmented academic world.

— Eric J. Morser

American Historical Review
Crucial reading for scholars interested in the nineteenth-century city, women's work and entrepreneurship, and the development of domestic ideology.

— Elaine Frantz Parsons

Journal of Social History
An excellent and important book that reframes the meaning of the home.

— Amy S. Greenberg

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801885716
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/2/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy Gamber is an associate professor of history at Indiana University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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