In a House Divided, 1850-1890

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Explore Illinois from 1850 to 1890 and meet the people who lived here.

The United States was not the only "house" divided during the era of the Civil War. Urban family roles were undergoing changes that placed men and women in separate spheres: the home for women and the outside world for men. These spheres were less distinct in rural areas because of the need for men and women to share their labors to make a farm successful. The ideal home divided space into public areas such as the front hall, parlor, and dining room and private areas such as the kitchen and bedrooms. Decoration of the public areas stressed the family's wealth and cultural development. Efficiency and sanitation were prime concerns in decorating private spaces.

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96