In April of 1940, the Ladies’ Home Journal reported that 94 percent of American homes had electricity and that 95 percent of American women did their own housework—that is, without the help of servants. In a way, these statistics seem to bear out the prophecy of Thomas A. Edison, who, in “The Woman of the Future,” published in Good Housekeeping in 1912, foresaw the day when the housewife would be “neither a slave to servants nor herself a drudge,” but instead a “domestic engineer” assisted by “the greatest of all handmaidens, electricity.” In Edison’s rosy prediction, women would use the time that electrical appliances saved them to pursue intellectual activities that would allow their brains to evolve, finally, to equal those of men. In reality, the numerous household appliances available by midcentury merely raised the standards by which housekeeping was to be judged. Margaret Halsey, in This Demi-Paradise, her 1960 account of life in the suburbs, recalls the “Invisible Critic” that she imagined hovering near the ceiling of her home, who never delivered the praise for which she continually hoped.
KeywordsVacuum Cleaner Cane Sugar Love Affair Good Housekeeping Home Journal
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