Before Domestic Diva Martha Stewart instructed American women in how to be the perfect homemaker, high school girls were required to take Home Economic classes.
Since every girl had dreams off being the perfect homemaker, it was perfectly natural to prepare these girls for the duties of married life. And High schools across the nation willingly obliged with essential life training classes as folding laundry, making hospital corners, setting a gracious table and mastering the perfect flaky biscuit.
Two back to back Saturday Evening Post covers from February 1957 perfectly illustrate that ideal of the life that lay ahead for a well brought up mid-century girl.
Cover illustration Saturday Evening Post Feb 16 1957
The text that accompanies the illustration by Steve Dohanos in this Feb 16, 1957 cover explains :
“Every girl should study the art of gracious homemaking, but as there is little time for this at home on account of take home schoolwork, time is set aside for it in school.”
“There, a girl learns how to bake an upside down cake that doesn’t turn out right side up, how to create a dress which doesn’t resemble a gunny sack, and how to make a table setting fit for a king or a husband. Illustrator Steve Dohanos has a theory that girls should not only be pretty but also pretty good cooks.”
The description for the previous weeks cover illustration by George Hughes speaks volumes:
“It is the duty of every girl to talk to boys on the telephone, kindle romantic sentiments, round-up potential husbands and thus help perpetuate the race by assuring that by and by she will become a homemaker.
Therefore it is comforting to see Sister applying herself earnestly to homework. Of course she should get in some bookwork, too; math for instance, is useful in budgeting, so that two can live as cheaply as-er-possible.
Well, she’ll do alright, for American girls are pretty wonderful at getting good grades in both education and romance”
Not that any matrimonial minded girl had to be talked into taking Home Ec, but in 1955 an educational film was produced entitled “Why Study Home Economics” Made in Lawrence Kansas, it was intended for distribution to High School students.
It tells the story of an adolescent girl Janice who decides whether or not to take home economics. When Janice is asked why she is interested in Home Economics she responds; “If I’m going to be a housewife for the rest of my life, I want to know what I’m doing!”
Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
- Occupation: Housewife (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)
- Matriculating Into Mid-Century Matrimony https://envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/matriculating-into-mid-century-matrimony/
- The Real Housewives of the Cold War https://envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-real-housewives-of-the-cold-war/