August 21, 2013

"Miss Ruth Kellogg demonstrating correct postures for various forms of housework."



From 1921.

More pics at the link. Doesn't this make you want to perform diligent housework in a full-length apron?

11 comments:

El Pollo Raylan said...

People were more upright and upstanding in the past; nowadays it's more couch and slouch.

Pat Patterson said...

When I was little my mom noticed that all her favorite dresses had stains along the hem. She went to the Woolwoth's and bought a full-length apron which my dad, unwisely, said made her look matronly.

Inga said...

Oy, my aching back. Ramrod striaght, not a great thing if you have spinal stenosis.

Terry said...

If this picture were more realistic, there would be eight kids younger than twelve years old hanging onto her apron as she went about her household duties.

D. Luthor said...

Was she related to the cereal and sanitarium Kellogg's?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Better posture for women may have been easier with a full panoply of foundation garments.

David said...

Ruth Kellogg was born in Russell County, Kansas in 1889. Russell County then had a population of about 7000, as it does now after a bit of an interim surge. If Russell sounds familiar to you, it's because Bob Dole was from there as was, for a time, Arlen Specter.

Ruth went to Kansas State Agricultural College, graduating in 1910. Her senior paper was "Vegetarianism, and Its Abuse." The photos are from her time at Cornell apparently 1920-26. She was an Assistant Professor of Home Economics at New York State Agricultural College at Cornell. Before that she taught at Michigan State in East Lasing. (The Census of 1920 gives her address as Faculty Row at MSU in East Lansing.)

In 1928 she recieved a one year "emergency" (someone left or died) appointment to teach Home Economics at University of Illinois. She appears in the 1930 census living in the University of Chicago neighborhood but does not claim to be employed. Probably she lost her job at Illinois when or just before the Depression hit.

She wrote several articles about the usage, merits and demerits of the new electric home appliances. She organized and taught extension classes while at Cornell, putting together mimeographed materials on home economics and grading and critiquing papers for students who studied the subject by correspondence. She was interested in safe working conditions for women in the "needle trade" and promoted a labeling system that places like Lord and Taylor in NY used to assure customers that their garments were not made in unsafe factories. She was one of a number of college teachers who signed a letter opposing the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff on grounds that it would hurt workers.

By the mid 1930's she was living in Yonkers, NY and working for the NY Department of Labor. She lived next door to her brother, who was 15 years older and a successful salesman. (Their parents had moved to rural Kansas from the New York City area. Apparently the kids saw merit in returning.)

She and her brother (and his wife) later moved to Wilton, Ct. where they again lived next door to each other. The 1940 census gives the value of her home as $6000. She earned $3800 a year working for the State of New York. She traveled quite frequently to Europe, apparently for pleasure and enjoyment. As of 1940, she had not married.

Does all this sound familiar? Is there a modern ring to this? Do some things not change as much as we think? Is she deserving of being remembered as some ironic artifact of an era when women stood up straight and dusted window panes? No, she was an early feminist, and quite a successful one.

(All of this I learned tonight in a couple of hours of internet searching. There was something about her than made me want to know more. The truth is out there, dear friends, and often not what we think it will be.)

SJ said...

If @David is correct, she is likely not a close relative of the Kellog brothers of cereal fame, who lived near Battle Creek, MI.

Cheryl said...

I wear aprons all the time at home. I got tired of wearing sloppy clothes at home because I didn't want to get my clothes dirty. Mine aren't full length but they are long enough to cover the hem of whatever skirt I'm wearing.

Apparently these old-timey homemakers were on to something. Who would have thought they were so smart?

RecChief said...

oddly enough, there are people who pay tens of thousands of dollars for a kitchen like that nowadays.

lemondog said...

Corset?