Thursday, March 24, 2011

Domestic Goddesses and Hormonal Hysterics

Cover, 26 page promotional brochure for Ladies' Home Journal.

In 1896 The Ladies' Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper became the Ladies' Home Journal.

Louisa Knapp Curtis, the editor understood that as the world became more and more complicated, some things had to be simplified.

Margaret Nicholson received this brochure, which is as crisp and clean as the day she got it, and wrote her name inside on the first page.

Now, the term Domestic Goddess is used jokingly today, but it is clear from the cover of this brochure, that it didn't come out of nowhere.

Housewives and mothers of the middle class were often portrayed as goddesses at the turn of the twentieth century, in advertising especially.

In inside page reads: The Ladies' Home Journal of 1897 will be, in every sense, a popular home magazine. (Positive thinking: already popular.)

It will interest and entertain, as do other periodicals, by the literary features. But it will go further than that. More particularly will it be helpful. (Then why remove "practical housekeeper?)

It will emphasize the practical side of life. It will appeal to the incomes of the many, not to the few."

The following 20 or so pages describe the articles in the 1897 version.

1) An historical section about major events of the past century.. Jenny Lind at Castle garden; Mr. Beecher selling the slave girl Sarah at Plymouth Pulpit; when the Prince of Wales was in America.. "when a number of young women lost their senses in a frenzy of romantic excitement"

Hmm. With the wedding of Prince William and Kate next month, the US media will be pontificating ad nauseum upon the American fascination with British Royalty, making it a stultifyingly self-fulfilling prophesy.

According to this brochure, the Ladies' Home Journal of 1897 will contain two more features on Royalty, a feature on how Queen Victoria spends Christmas (she would only have 3 or 4 more) and a feature on "the most popular man in the world" the Prince of Wales who would become Edward VII and lend his name to an era, the Tighsolas Era.