The 19th century in the United States was a time fueled by industrialization, social change, and growth for the nation. Despite the wounds left behind from the Civil War in the 1860s, the domestic sphere in Victorian America still progressed. Residential buildings were 60 percent of all construction in the country after the war. By 1870, one in five American families lived in a place of their own because the middle class was growing immensely. The Industrial Revolution’s focus on patents shaped the rest of the century’s domestic products. Women took care of the interior of the house and children while the men tended to the farm and exterior of the house. A woman’s typical day consisted of preparing meals, sewing and mending clothing, making candles, washing clothing, managing the garden, preparing food for the winter, and raising the children. A man’s typical day involved tilling, planting, gathering the harvest, tending to the fields, taking care of livestock, chopping wood, fixing fences, and repairing the house. Children helped on the farm when they weren’t at school. Girls would help their mothers and boys would help their fathers. The advancements of domestic life in the 19th century can be seen best through examining household objects of the period.
Special Collections and Museums
Pickler Memorial Library
Truman State University
100 East Normal Avenue
Kirksville, MO 63501