Some thoughts

As I near the end of my work on this project, I realize that what I've learned most completely is how much more there is to learn. For each idea I have included in this picture of the domestic ideal at mid-century, there are many I have left out.

Some examples:

  • I have restricted my representation to the middle-class ideal. This necessarily ignores the reality - how feasible were the proposals made by housing reformers? What did middle-class houses actually look like? Upper-class houses? City tenements? Slave quarters?

  • I gave only passing attention to the pressure put on women by this cult of domesticity. What were her moral obligations as she understood them? How did she (and how do we) interpret the religious and patriotic themes running through its rhetoric? How did her role as presented by housing reformers differ from that presented by women's rights reformers?
  • If you are working on a web project dealing with any of these topics, I wish you good luck, and hope you'll let me know how it goes.

    Maureen Riedy
    mr9d@virginia.edu