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Never Done: A History of American Housework
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Never Done: A History of American Housework

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  120 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Finally back in print, with a new Preface by the author, this lively, authoritative, and pathbreaking study considers the history of material advances and domestic service, the "women's separate sphere," and the respective influences of advertising, home economics, and women's entry into the workforce. Never Done begins by describing the household chores of nineteenth-cent ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1982)
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Jun 21, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing

Every time I turn around there's something else to do

Cook a meal or mend a sock or sweep a floor or two…

(“Gonna Be an Engineer”, Peggy Seeger)

Never Done: A History of American Houswork is a history of the American home, focusing on the work done within it, one which demonstrates how households became centers of consumption, instead of production. It’s a marvelously meaty work, divided into sections that not only show how chores evolved, but other elements within the household – like the now aban
Jon Frum
Aug 21, 2015 Jon Frum rated it it was ok
This book was a combination of positives and negatives for me. On the pro side, Ms Strasser covers quite a bit of interesting history about every day life, which I find fascinating. There were two cons that stuck out to me. First, there were chapters that featured the works of writers of books on domestic matters, which is an entirely different subject than the history of what women actually did in their homes. This may be of interest to the academic, but it pulls the book away from its central ...more
Nov 18, 2014 Grayson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Besides being a look at how the American household went from 18th century production of needed family goods to the 1980's consumer culture (which was when the book was written), this is also a feminist history of how the "women's sphere" -- the home -- was viewed by popular culture.. I especially enjoyed reading analyses of 19th century female writers of housekeeping manuals. Their imagined future for the family home was frequently over-romanticised, and many of them -- I'm looking at you, Harri ...more
May 05, 2012 Ashley rated it it was ok
One of the longest 300-ish page books I've read. The concept was interesting, but the writing was so dry and read like a textbook. Thank goodness there were pictures interspersed to break out the massive walls of 8 pt. font.

The book has a decided feminist slant to it, though I suppose it's fitting given the topic. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, probably most well-known for her short fiction story The Yellow Wallpaper, which I quite liked, made quite a few cameos here as an activist.

There were a few
Nov 18, 2008 Daniela rated it really liked it
Strasser is a historian who teaches at U of Delaware. She treats housework as a microcosm of a broader social phenomena -- the American woman's shift from producer to consumer. She argues that we're losing the emotional importance of home life and becoming increasingly isolated, shrewd buyers of products. The orientation of our work has changed. The book is a descriptive, historical account of changes within different arenas of housework (cooking, washing clothes,cleaning, etc.) Interestingly, t ...more
Theresa Donovan Brown
This book will make you tired just thinking about how hard women worked at household tasks just a couple of generations ago. Great for understanding U.S. socioeconomic history, the women's movement, and our own moment in time.
Donna Morrison
May 24, 2014 Donna Morrison rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
An informative and well researched document tracing the changes technology and innovation have had on our daily lives.
Marissa Patterson
May 28, 2014 Marissa Patterson rated it really liked it
Shelves: paper
Aug 13, 2008 Cissy rated it it was ok
Like reading a textbook...lots of great information, a bit tedious to wade through. I admit I read only about 3/4 of the book, choosing the chapters that were interesting to me. I certainly felt grateful for my own easier housekeeping circumstances; and, I gained a new perspective of how inventions, industry, advertising, etc., work together to affect the lives of women and their "sphere". I think I would prefer reading a collection of articles on these topics rather than this massive, small-pri ...more
Ally Hansberry
Feb 11, 2016 Ally Hansberry rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
Oct 12, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: house-and-home
I was hoping, when I picked this up, that it would be "an equal, wide survey." It isn't--it leans heavily to the nineteenth century, and then packs twentieth century developments into the last quarter of the book. Still, the information is useful, relevant, and generally well presented, although slightly repetitive (Strasser, I think, suffers from an academic's anxiety that no one will read the book cover to cover).
Philana Walker
Mar 10, 2009 Philana Walker rated it liked it
I liked this book. The idea of housework and the "advances" made throughout history to make things more efficient as a means of bondage to the machine is great. We have become a society less interested in social ties. Gone are the days of washing and gossip. Things were so rough back then, but now we have microwaves and dishwashers, washing machines and the kitchen stove.
Peter Wilhelm
Dec 04, 2014 Peter Wilhelm rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm 20% of the way through. Interesting information, but unfortunately so far reads more like a list of facts than a story. And some of the facts aren't particularly new or surprising. But it does paint a good picture of what it was like to survive a winter without central heat or electricity.
Dec 16, 2012 Diana rated it liked it
This is a book on what our grandmothers and great grandmothers used to put food on their familys tables. I will admit it was slightly dry reading, but I ended up enjoying reading about some of the crazy things they used to make caring for their families easier.
Sep 18, 2012 Maureen rated it liked it
Shelves: history, women
I attended a course at The Evergreen State College co-taught by Susie Strasser in 1980. Our class was fortunate to preview drafts of this future book's content. The discussions in the class enhanced my knowledge and appreciation of women's history.
While this may sound like a less-than-exciting book, it works (and goes a long way in succeeding) to prove the thesis that modern American women have technology to blame for the overworked position that they now find themselves in.
Nov 06, 2007 Erika rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in early 20th century American history
Shelves: housewifely
This book was a great read, I gained a new insight into the history of the modern American family as well as how immigration affected our country in the early 20th century.
Jan 16, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this one years ago and it changed my perspective on housework and the resulting social interaction since then.
Jun 16, 2009 Alex rated it really liked it
Never Done: A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser (2000)
K.A. Okagaki
Dec 12, 2009 K.A. Okagaki rated it liked it
You'll never look at housework the same again
Jan 14, 2010 Caroline marked it as to-read
tx23 s77 2000
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