Selling Mrs. Consumer: Christine Frederick and the Rise of Household Efficiency

Selling Mrs. Consumer: Christine Frederick and the Rise of Household Efficiency

by Janice Rutherford
     
 

ISBN-10: 0820324493

ISBN-13: 9780820324494

Pub. Date: 02/28/2003

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

This first book-length treatment of the life and work of Christine Frederick (1883-1970) reveals an important dilemma that faced educated women of the early twentieth century. Contrary to her professional role as home efficiency expert, advertising consultant, and consumer advocate, Christine Frederick espoused the nineteenth-century ideal of preserving the virtuous…  See more details below

Overview

This first book-length treatment of the life and work of Christine Frederick (1883-1970) reveals an important dilemma that faced educated women of the early twentieth century. Contrary to her professional role as home efficiency expert, advertising consultant, and consumer advocate, Christine Frederick espoused the nineteenth-century ideal of preserving the virtuous home--and a woman's place in it. In an effort to reconcile her desire to succeed in the public sphere of modernization and consumerism with the knowledge that most middle-class Americans still held traditional beliefs about gender roles, Frederick fashioned a career for herself that encouraged other women to remain at home.

With the rise of home economics and scientific management, Frederick--college-educated but confined to the drudgery of housework--devised a plan for bringing the public sphere into the domestic. Her home would become her factory. She learned how to standardize tasks by observing labor-saving devices in industry and then applied this knowledge to housework. She standardized dishwashing, for example, by breaking the job into three separate operations: scraping and stacking, washing, and drying and putting away. Determined to train women to become proficient homemakers and efficient managers, Frederick secured a job writing articles for the Ladies' Home Journal. A professional career as home efficiency expert later expanded to include advertising consultant and consumer advocate. Frederick assured male advertisers that she knew women well and promised to help them sell to "Mrs. Consumer."

While Frederick sought the power and influence available only to men, she promoted a division of labor bygender and therefore served the fall of the early-twentieth-century wave of feminism. Rutherford's engaging account of Christine Frederick's life reflects a dilemma that continues to affect women today--whether to seek professional gratification or adhere to traditional family values.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820324494
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
02/28/2003
Pages:
290
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.98(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface
Prologue
Introduction
1"Only a Girl"8
2"Drudgifying Housework"25
3The Rise of Home Economics and Scientific Management36
4Conceiving a Career46
5Promoting Industry to Save the Home59
6Expounding the Business Ethic72
7Accommodating Progressivism86
8"A World Wide Lecturer"96
9Reframing Women's Role in the Twenties108
10Becoming Mrs. Consumer121
11Private Life136
12Selling Out Mrs. Consumer146
13The Twilight of a Career157
14Re-creation and Legacy172
Epilogue184
AppChronology of Chrisrine Frederick's Life193
Notes197
Bibliography253
Index271

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