STSC 003 — Technology & Society Domestic Technologies I. The Home as Factory Through most of 19th century, homes were lit and heated by, and cooking and hot water were achieved by, combustion — wood-fire stoves, coal heaters, oil lamps and gas — “keeping the home-fires burning” was hard, physical, constant labor. Starting in 1880s, homes are wired for electric lighting; leads to further electrification, mechanization; by 1917: 25% of American homes are wired; 1930: 80%. 1920s: “The Help Problem”; middle class belief that “good help” is becoming hard to find; many working class women who might have been laundresses now become typists, clerical workers (less strenuous, better pay); no simple “cause and effect”; two complementary, reinforcing phenomena: fewer workers lead to machine innovation; machine innovations lead to fewer workers; through 1920s, household servants declined 50%: technology presented as solution to “the help problem”; result: more work for mother
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