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Housewives Before WW2: Women On The Cusp Of Transformation

american housewife 1941 plate hanging

Hanging a china plate as decoration while Tony plays. Source: Mashable

We’ve written before on the ways war has inspired countless technical innovations that we take for granted every day, but haven’t focused too much on the ways it has transformed the home and its accompanying gender roles. In this arena, one surprising “accomplishment” of World War II was the way it catalyzed the average American woman’s move from the home and to the marketplace, where she found remunerative work–and where she more often than not stayed.

Just two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, LIFE Magazine ran a piece by photographer William C. Shrout covering the duties of the typical, middle class American mother and housewife, a figure whose June Cleaver associations are becoming more mythical with each passing decade.

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