Here’s another vintage housewife educational film for this week’s TV Thursday.
One of the things I find fascinating about domestic history in the early part of the 20th century is it’s emphasis on science. Time-motion study had become an exciting new concept in business and management, and was being applied to home management as well.
What is time-motion study? It’s the process of studying and breaking down a repeated task, looking for the most efficient way (both in energy and time) to accomplish it in order to boost productivity. One of the classic examples of this was using a brick layer. The “old” way of laying bricks meant a stack of bricks was placed next to the brick layer, who then would bend over, pick up a brick, spread mortar, place the brick, lean back over, pick up another brick. . .well you get the idea.
(note, this isn’t the main video for today, it’s a video to illustrate what I was just talking about)
It was determined that by having the bricks placed in special packets at waist height, the brick layer simply had to grab a brick in one motion without bending over, and that by eliminating that bending motion a large amount of time and energy was saved, allowing the brick layer to do more work in the same time with less effort.
Taking those same management techniques and applying them to the home was a newer idea (as was treating housekeeping as an important subject that should be taught–there wasn’t really such a thing as home economics as a field of study before the early 20th century (although Harriet Beecher Stowe championed it about 50 years before that. . .but that’s the subject for another article)).
That’s one of the reasons I think this video is so interesting. They are taking “modern” (at least to them) instrumentation to see the amount of work involved in things that women did daily in average homes. Is this video sexist? To me it is actually trying to be the opposite, using phrases like “the weaker sex” sort of tongue in cheek while showing that housework really isn’t for sissies.
As with many old films that folks have kindly shared on YouTube, this one does cut off abruptly at the end. Still, you get the idea and not only is it fascinating to see the amount of work required for things, you are also catching a glimpse of what life was like at the time.
Did anything in this video surprise you? I couldn’t believe the amount of force that hand sewing and typing actually requires! On the other hand, I’ve worn a step counter around the house while I’m doing housework–so the number of miles didn’t surprise me at all.
Wondering what TV Thursday is all about, and how to best watch YouTube Videos on your computer or TV? Check out my post “TV Thursday & Tips“.