|The shrinking supply of domestic servants and
the availability of new electrical appliances changed household
routines for many urban women after World War I. The most popular
appliances purchased for the newly electrified home were the iron
and the vacuum. Ironing no longer required long hours in the
kitchen handling a hot, heavy iron. Heat was now available at any
outlet in the house. Women with electric vacuums no longer had to
remove rugs and curtains every spring and fall to beat the dirt out
of them. Instead they vacuumed rugs every week, as higher standards
of cleanliness added new housekeeping burdens.
Country women had a longer wait for these revolutionary electrical appliances. In 1920 only 1% of Illinois farms were electrified. By 1940 this figure had improved to almost 50%, but it still did not approach the rate for city dwellers of 98.5%. When the high power lines finally brought electricity to rural homes, kitchen remodeling was often needed to accommodate a new electric refrigerator or stove. Planning kits allowed women to consider how to efficiently arrange their kitchen with new modular, metal cabinets. What would you find in kitchens from 1920-1950?
© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96