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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Visualizing the100-Hour Work Week of the 1947 Housewife.

This photo by Nina Leen [“Housewife Marjorie McWeeney amid symbolic display of her week’s housework” in “Woman’s Dilemma,” Life, June 16, 1947, p. 105] depicts part of the housewife-y stuff of attention in the course of her 100-long-week. The remarkable part of the photo is that all of this was displayed in a window display at Bloomingdales.

Part of Ms. McWeeney’s average work week included “35 beds to be made, 750 items of glass & china, 400 pieces of silverware to wash, 174 lbs. of food to prepare, some of 250 pieces of laundry.on a line, & a ringer washing machine”–that plus paying attention to her children during the 70+ hours a week in which they are awake.

In the listing of Ms. McWeeney's routine ("Her Work") I see no evidence of Mr. McWeeney's contribution to the daily chores. We see that he spends 15 minutes eating his breakfast before leaving for work at 8; returns home at 12 or a one-hour lunch before bolting at 1; and then returns at 6 for cocktails at 7:15 and then an hour long dinner at 8. Perhaps he was helping bathe the kids before cocktails, perhaps not. I can't find evidence for Mrs. McWeeney's present telephone number, so perhaps we'll never know. But my sneaking suspicion is that Ms. McWeeney ran the house and kids solo, as was the general custom of the day, basically.

Posted via web from poobumwee's posterous

14 comments:

CalumCarr said...

Seems fair: she did all the work, he got all the pleasure.

Has anything changed?

Joke!

James Higham said...

Mind you,that's her version of it.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

dude, she has got it easy. *I* have 5 televisions and 6 computers to dust.

I know, a total workhorse.

fake consultant said...

you know what's odd about that picture?

the food.

no fresh juices, nothing in plastic bottles, and no soda, just for starters.

no potato chips, and no cookies, either.

there's also a lot of fresh veggies, by today's standards, but i have no way to judge what type of meats they were eating.

any idea what the tall bags in center frame might be?

Colin Campbell said...

We must have had it tough. We never had so many plates and beds. I also remember washing dishes.

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