Popular Science Monthly/Volume 79/September 1911/Food Preparation and its Relation to the Development of Efficient Personality in the Home
|FOOD PREPARATION AND ITS RELATION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF EFFICIENT PERSONALITY IN THE HOME|
IOWA CITY, IOWA.
THE main purpose of this paper is to show something of the manner in which woman's work in the home in regulating and arranging the diet of her family may help or hinder their harmonious vital, mental, moral and social development as well as her own, through her ability or inability to make use of the accumulated knowledge of conditions necessary for human welfare.
The purpose also is to show if possible the importance of greater knowledge of what is best for individual welfare on the part of homemakers to whom is intrusted the first and early care of the potential citizen or the social personality with its varied phenomena of vitality, mentality, morality and sociality.
Vitality is fundamental. Without good health we can not expect the highest mental development. Without good health and the vital conditions which produce it we can not expect a high morality. Without good health and the sense of well being which accompanies it, we can not expect a deep sense of sociality or social sympathy.
Two factors operate to produce vitality, i. e., heredity and hygiene. Within the limits of this paper heredity has no place. One phase alone of hygiene will be discussed. The hygienic methods of improving vitality may be classed in three groups—public hygiene or the activities of government, such as general sanitary measures; semi-public hygiene or the activities of the medical profession and institutions such as hospitals; and personal hygiene or the private life of the individual and family.
The subject of personal hygiene has three main divisions: nutrition or suitable foods; environment—air, soil, clothing, dwellings and so on, and activity or the proper balance between work, play and sleep. Still another element in personal hygiene concerns the sex relation. These divisions of the subject of personal hygiene are closely bound together in their importance to human welfare. Yet food is the primary essential of the human organism. Food, then, is the phase of personal hygiene which will be considered in this paper. It will be discussed in its relation to the development of efficient social personality in the home.
We trace first the development of public sentiment in regard to the importance of food suitable to maintain the body in a state of efficiency and health.
Distinct progress in the study of the foods necessary for the body was made when chemists and physiologists began to work hand in hand in their investigations. Liebig (1803-1873) took a step in advance when he declared that protein foods are the source of energy and his statements held sway for many years until they were overthrown by experimental evidence. Fick, who in 1865, made an ascent of the Faulhorn on a diet entirely without protein did much to overthrow Liebig's theory.
Other original investigations followed, for the necessity of experimental evidence had by that time been fully established, until we come to the name of Karl von Voit, who in his studies in metabolism, sought to learn the kinds and quantities of food used by people of different occupations.
Professor Atwater, lately deceased, contributed much by original studies to the subject of diet and nutrition in our own country. But the most scholarly and thorough investigations in this country on the subject of diet in its relation to the actual necessities of the body have been carried on by Dr. Chittenden, professor of physiological chemistry at Yale University and director of the Sheffield Scientific -School. In these he has sought to establish by a series of accurate tests of sufficient number to warrant conclusions the minimum requirements of food for the body under certain conditions. He sought to determine the real physiological needs of the body for food in order that energy may be furnished and tissue be built up and replaced.
These data furnished by the chemists and the physiologists concerning the food necessities for individual welfare, the sociologist makes use of in his study of society, for a society can be no more potent than is the personality of the individuals who compose it. Hence, as Professor Giddings says, "The supreme result of efficient social organization and the supreme test of efficiency is the development of the social man."
The phenomena of personality may be divided into four classes: those of vitality, mentality, morality and sociality. According to the author just quoted, "the development of the social personality is measured by the increase of vitality, of sound and high mentality, of morality and of sociality; and by a decrease in the population of the number of the defective, the abnormal, the immoral, and of the desocialized, the deindividualized and the degraded."
The development of vitality is fundamental in harmonious personal growth. From the days of the early Greeks the necessity of a sound body as a pre-requisite of a sound mind has been fully recognized and sought for in accordance with the knowledge available for the subject. The recognition of the connection between moral life and mental life has been somewhat more tardy, as also has been the knowledge of the connection between morality and sociality. Even though Jesus centuries ago declared, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and "He that saveth his life shall lose it," we have been very slow to comprehend the fact that universal brotherhood is indicative of a high type of morality.
However, we have come now to see the fact that sociality rests upon morality, that morality is a differentiated form of mental life, and mental life is conditioned upon physical life while efficient physical life depends primarily upon the food we eat.
Consequently some of the essential studies of the sociologist are food necessities and vital statistics in order that he may understand the possibilities of harmonious development of the social man. This century has been especially rich in studies of this kind, but as long ago as the eighteenth century Adam Smith expounded the advantage to the community of a rising standard of living among laboring classes. In our own century the work of investigation into the standards of living in their relation to social welfare have been undertaken by many individuals and agencies.
The general plan of these investigations has been a study of living conditions as they actually exist among working people, for the most part, because the animating purpose of many of these inquiries has been the desire to improve the condition of the wage earner.
For instance, Mrs. More in the book entitled "Wage Earner's Budgets" gives the results of a personal investigation into the standards and cost of living of two hundred families in two districts in New York City. The people represented the leading trades and occupations of city workmen under the usual city conditions. Her conclusion was that a well-nourished family of five needs at least $6 a week for food in households where there is good management, and she says further that what is done with the weekly income and the amount of comfort it will bring depends almost entirely upon the character and ability of the wife.
Professor Chapin in his book entitled "The Standard of Living in New York" presents the schedule of expenses of 391 families on an income ranging from $500 to $1,000 per year. The average expenditure for food was $400 a year per family, but in the families whose income fell below $800 or $900 he found them often under-fed because rent must consume so large a part of their income. Dr. F. P. Underhill in commenting upon the nutrition of people of these incomes says that results show that when less than 22 cents per man a day is spent for food the nourishment derived is insufficient. But he adds that it does not necessarily follow that in every family where 22 cents per man a day is spent the people are well nourished, for not all families spend their money wisely, i. e., one report showing that out of $6.17 a week spent for food $1.83 was spent for beer, wine and pickles.
Dr. Irving Fisher, professor of political science at Yale University, has published the results of two series of investigations as to the effect of diet on endurance. He finds endurance much increased by thorough mastication of food, which unconsciously leads to a much lower protein intake than is usually considered necessary in the so-called dietary standards.
These authorities are mentioned only to show something of the importance which the sociologist to-day is attaching to the phenomena of vitality in the development of efficient social personality.
For the harmonious development of efficient social personality certain general conditions of well-being are essential in which all the members of the community share or may share and, even though these are external to the individuality, they are still necessary to its perfection and happiness. "These external conditions include the security of life and possessions which is maintained by the political system; the liberty and justice which are maintained by the legal system; the material well-being which is created by the economic system; the knowledge and the command over nature which are created by the cultural system. These proximate ends collectively we may call public utilities."
These public utilities are means to an ultimate end. They are of value only as they serve the individual life, the higher life of moral and intellectual development. By their means is developed a social personality, and this social personality—so far the highest product of evolution—the moral, intellectual and social man is the ultimate end of the social organization.
These proximate ends or public utilities take the form of various organizations in the political, the legal, the economic and cultural systems.
The home is one of these utilities for the development of the social man. The purpose of the home as a social organization is two-fold—economic and cultural. It is a purposive organization existing for convenience in the consumption of wealth as well as for the cultural purposes of parents and children.
Since the development of social personality through its organizations is the ultimate end of society, the cultural side of the home should perhaps be more emphasized than it is, but as our economic system is organized to-day the economic side of home life receives undue emphasis, owing to the social waste of labor which occurs because each housewife does her own housework, the food preparation, the sewing, the laundry work for her own little group, when by combination there could be a great saving in time and strength and more leisure for real cultural advancement. Society is coming slowly to understand something of this social waste of labor and gradually there have been developing industries which relieve the homes of much sewing, laundry work, and even food preparation.
The home is a human institution, and as such is capable of change and improvement. Other human institutions have come and gone, but the home of to-day in many particulars remains essentially the same as it was when our cave-dwelling ancestors left the woman at home to guard the fire, care for the children and, incidentally, to prepare the food, while they roamed abroad in search of game and new experiences. Those who insist that a woman's place is at home by divine decree need only to study the life of primitive man to find out how very human are some of our domestic customs, for they will then see this distinction, that while nature has specialized woman for child-bearing, it is society which has specialized her for housework. To be sure, a custom which has continued as long as this one of woman remaining by the fireside must have as its foundation something which is fundamentally right for social development. Yet so many myths have grown up about this custom that we are in danger at times of mistaking these additions for the good of the original idea. Because of these erroneous ideas current, popular opinion is inclined immediately to conclude, if for economic reasons a woman strays from the fireside, that she and her husband are incompatible, or that he is unwilling to support her and that in some way she is neglecting what is popularly supposed to be her divinely appointed mission. Of course such a conclusion is often unjust and not warranted by the facts.
In discussing the subject of the preparation of food, we accept conditions as they are; that woman is specialized by society as the housekeeper and food purveyor to the various groups called families.
In spite of the fact that many of the home industries have developed into world-wide industries there still remains for the housemother much of the food preparation for her family. The necessary meals for one's family are the essential fact which confront each housewife anew each day. No matter what other home activity can be neglected, that one duty of preparing food can not be omitted. How often we hear women make some such remark as this, "I was too sick to do anything else but get barely enough for the family to eat." This shows that every other home duty can in extremity be left undone except that one. Food preparation then is the fundamental duty of the housewife to-day. "A good stomach kept in a healthy condition is the foundation of all true greatness," says Dr. Tyler, professor of biology at Amherst College.
The housemother's first duty then after bearing her family is to provide them with food for their growing needs which shall give them the best endurance for life's conflict. But her responsibility is much greater than this, for closely connected with the necessity for food are the other hygienic necessities for survival—air, water, sunshine, shelter, rest, all in due season; and depending upon these vital necessities are the opportunities for the development of the mental, moral and social personality or the completely social man. Because woman is specialized for home work, these wider responsibilities for individual growth have, in a large measure, become hers also.
The home as a social organization stands as an agent of help or hindrance midway between the well-established theories of the scientists concerning human welfare, on the one hand, and society, on the other, where the finished product of personality asserts itself as a social force. What that force shall be the home can alone determine for by its agency, the theories concerning human welfare must be put into practise and through it as a clearing house must pass in their operation many of the most potent influences which fashion the character of the social personality or the social man.
Naturally then the sociologist in considering the factors which determine social welfare must give especial attention to the home and many phases of its life.
For instance, if the physiological chemists prove that the individual requires for full vital development food of certain quality and quantity to produce from 2,500 to 3,000 calories of energy per day and that individual in his home through the ignorance on the part of those who prepare and serve the food consumes a greater or less amount of innutritious food, just to that degree is the home responsible for the weakening of the vital power of the social personality and since vitality is fundamental, the mentality, the morality and sociality of the individual will in time also suffer.
As custom is at present, we all concede that the home is the center of food supply to the individual and woman's main work in the home for which to-day she is specialized by society is the serving of food to her family which in the majority of instances she has herself prepared, for we are told that only ten per cent, of the women in the country have the luxury of a cook other than themselves. If in fulfilling this humanly appointed mission of food center, any individual or group of individuals in the home in carrying out this plan lose from overwork or under education an opportunity for the harmonious development of the four divisions of social personality—the vital, the mental, the moral and the social, the home standing as it does midway between the knowledge of what is best for human nature in its development and the finished product or the social individual in society—is a hindrance to human progress.
Applying the sociological tests of personality to home life we have a right to ask if our homes, as at present conducted, are making mankind better as human beings, more rational, more sympathetic, with an everbroadening consciousness of kind, and whether there is a decrease in the number of the defective, the abnormal, the unmoral and desocialized. We have a right to go a step further and ask if in the development of this social personality there comes to the individual the satisfaction of its own activity and growth or what Giddings calls "cumulative happiness." That is, in the performance of this specialized industry as homemaker is woman enjoying a sense of satisfaction in her own growth and activity and is she happy in her work? Neither men nor women can have a sense of satisfaction or cumulative happiness in their tasks unless they are fitted for them and do not overwork at them.
We are here according to the modern interpretation of the teachings of Jesus to perform our best service to society and we can do this only by the best individual growth and expression. The right kind a home can do much to further these results. Warden J. C. Sanders, of the State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, Iowa, said that out of the 455 inmates, very few had had the advantage of a good home.
Although woman is specialized for this important business of home work upon the outcome of which depends first the vital, then the mental, moral and social, welfare of mankind, she receives in but few cases any preparation for her important task. She takes the methods of housework which are traditional in her environment and makes use of them according to her individual training and aptitude. The exceptional woman may use all the data of the scientists in the administration of her home. What she is able to do ought not to be made the measure of what the average woman may be expected to do. The average woman goes blindly on in her specialized work, laboring hard at a task for which she has no aid but home traditions and the columns of the home magazines.
To be sure the home magazines are contributing much toward better conditions of home living, for many women would not know that scientists are at work continually on problems of home betterment were not some of the results of their investigations made available through the medium of the home magazines.
The bulletins of the Department of Agriculture, the farmer's institutes throughout the country, the home economics movement, and many writers—Mrs. Richards, Miss Barrows, Miss Bevier, Mrs. Korer, Miss Kinne, Mrs. Hill, Miss Farmer, Miss Hunt, Mrs. Lincoln and others—are doing much by a crusade of enlightenment to improve conditions of foods, their preparation and uses in our homes. That is, they are trying to make available for women the knowledge of the scientists, which either is not available for the average woman or else is beyond her mental reach.
For instance, two noteworthy books on the subject of nutrition by Professor Chittenden, of Yale University, have been published in recent years. They are noteworthy because by scientific tests upon different classes of people they show the exact needs of the body for protein, the material for building up and replacing tissue. Consequently some very definite conclusions can be drawn concerning food customs which should be known to every woman and prevail in every household. The essential parts of the books are so plainly and entertainingly written that a woman with at least a high school education could understand them and profit by them. Yet inquiry reveals very few housekeepers who have read them. The reason for this ignorance can be attributed to the fact that as yet woman in her evolution has not reached the state of mind when she expects to enjoy or understand anything scientific, so she does not seek out that class of reading. Meanwhile, nevertheless, she is in charge of the vital development of the race. A strange inconsistency! Thus we see that in most cases she is not fitted for her work and hence can have no sense of satisfaction in it.
As previously stated the purpose of this paper is to show the connection between woman's work in the home in preparing and serving food for her family and the harmonious development of personality; and also to indicate that as conditions now prevail in society she is unable to make use of the accumulated knowledge of scientists as to what is best for human welfare.
With this purpose before us we need to keep in mind the image of the home as an intermediate agent between the scientific knowledge of what is best for human development, on the one hand, and on the other the finished product of personality as we find it in society. Since the home stands as the connecting link between these two—the knowledge and the result, it must of necessity help or hinder the harmonious development of the social personality or the individual in his relations to his fellow men. Hence anything which will improve home conditions is of great importance to society in its attempts at individual and general progress.
In the face of these responsibilities which center around the home and the housemother in the vital, mental, moral and social care of her family, because she is specialized by society for home work, let us consider some of the results in the working out of this system.
Statistics tell us that under the present home system one fourth of all deaths for the United States during the year 1908 were of children under five years of age. The infant mortality of England was higher for the three years 1896-1900 than for 1861-65. Of the total deaths in Iowa in August, 1910, about one fifth were under one year of age and of these over 80 per cent, were from cholera infantum, a disease largely preventable through hygienic measures.
It is stated of all diseases of infancy between the ages of 2 and 6 sixty-seven per cent, may be prevented on the basis of our present knowledge of sanitary measures, were they widely used.
Statistics tell us that under the present home system, the prevalence of disease greatly impairs efficiency.
In the United States, 500,000 people are constantly ill from tuberculosis alone, which is in a large measure a preventable disease in the homes where it is understood and the necessary diet and food are provided.
The minor ailments, such as colds and sore throats, cause even well men to lose at least five days a year from their work. Yet investigation and research are showing that these minor ailments can be controlled in a large measure by diet. Professor Fisher says that he knows scores of cases in which the tendency to take cold has been almost completely overcome by diet. Such being the case it will be necessary for those who prepare and serve the food to be cognizant of what kind of food the body requires for its highest efficiency, and since as society is now organized, the preparation of food is woman's work, it must be possible for women to know in some way the latest results of scientific research in foods and general hygiene in order to prevent disease.
Statistics tell us that misery, which represents maladjustment to environment, is frequent in rural as well as in city life. "Perfect health, full physical vigor and overflowing animal spirits are much more rare among dependent classes than moral virtues. The prevalence of ill health is due in large part of course to ignorance and the continued neglect of the elementary rules of personal hygiene."
It is a noteworthy fact that after the destruction of the homes by the San Francisco earthquake the health of the community as a whole improved, due no doubt to the plain, substantial food, the outdoor life and the military system of sanitation, where before people had been living in homes in accordance with their individual ignorance. Professor Devine states also that there is great need of medical knowledge in our homes to overcome the ravages of such diseases as the minor maladies of rheumatism and colds. This puts the responsibility of human health on the home and the woman in the home who has charge of the preparation of food, the vital welfare of mankind and hence the other dependent phenomena of personality.
Professor Devine says, in speaking of the waste of infant life, that in England 10 per cent, of the babies of aristocratic families die in the first year, 21 per cent, of the middle class, and 32 per cent, of the laboring class, which facts show that the ignorance of the proper care of infant life is not altogether due to poverty.
Many charity workers report that the "unpreparedness of the wife and mother" to make a home is often a cause of misery, because through ignorance disease comes and disability, with much resultant suffering and want. In these homes where the unprepared mothers try oftentimes so nobly to adjust the personalities of themselves and their families to adverse conditions, Professor Devine says, "We find the beginnings of those tendencies which often lead to suicide or crime, to disabling disease or helpfulness." In this same connection of the preparation of home makers for adapting themselves and their families to their environment, charity workers agree that among working people the women who have been in domestic service are much better able to manage on their income than those who have spent their girlhood in factories. Intemperance, which is known by all charity workers to be a prolific cause of crime, is often excused in its first manifestations as resulting from innutritious food. In families where the wages would be sufficient to supply nutritious food, the homemakers do not know how to buy or to prepare it. Hence previous domestic training is of great value.
This "unpreparedness" of women in our homes is not confined alone to a knowledge of foods. Because woman is specialized by society for housework, and the care of children, the general responsibility for the health of her family is hers also. But so often through ignorance she is not equal to this responsibility. For instance, statistics and the reports of the various state charitable institutions show that a large per cent, of blindness among children is due to diseased conditions which might be remedied by intelligent care at birth, or might have been prevented years before by a proper knowledge of sex hygiene.
Intermarrying is also given by experts as a cause of physical degeneracy such as deaf mutism. Both of these social errors might be diminished by greater knowledge on the part of the guardians of the homes of the vital necessities of the race in the matter of sex and reproduction. The economic necessity which presses so hard to-day upon the man as bread-winner of the family lays all the more responsibility upon the woman in the home not only as in the first essential of food, but in all hygienic matters which pertain to vital efficiency.
Statistics tell us that with the present home system divorce is increasing much faster than the population. Divorce was about three times greater in 1905 than in 1870.
The special census report of the Department of Commerce and Labor shows that the most important ground for divorce is desertion and of the divorces granted to the husband nearly one half had desertions as their cause. That is, one half of the husbands who sued for divorce had for a cause the desertion of the wives. It would look from this fact as though women are growing weary of home conditions.
We have then the fact that with our present system of homes, one fourth of all deaths are of children under five—those who are entirely dependent on the home whose diseases in 67 per cent, of the cases could be prevented by proper diet and care. We have the fact that 500,000 people in the United States are ill of tuberculosis and that such prevalent diseases can, in many cases, be cured by diet and fresh air. We have the fact that as estimated even well people lose at least five days a year from colds and minor ailments which might have been largely prevented by a proper diet. We have the fact that one half of the women who are divorced by their husbands desert home voluntarily. We have the fact that many charity workers give as their testimony that much social misery is caused by the "unpreparedness" of the homemakers. We have statistics to show the great waste of infant life in mansion as well as in humbler home. We have the statement of Professor Devine, the well-known charity expert, that in many homes we find the beginnings of tendencies which often lead to crime and disabling disease. We have the statements that innutritious food is a prolific cause of intemperance, which of itself leads to crime. We have the facts that much blindness and physical degeneracy might be prevented by a proper knowledge made available to the masses through the housemother in the home.
In the face of all these facts it would certainly appear that woman, who is the guardian of the home, is either ignorant of the proper consumption of wealth in the home in serving human welfare or else she is remiss in her duty. It is safe to say that not all women would be consciously negligent or remiss in their life's work, so the natural conclusion is that woman for the most part is ignorant of many of the essentials of the great mission assigned her. This ignorance is not strange, since in our educational system she receives slight preparation for this her real life's work. As has been said before, all the aid she has are home traditions and the home magazine, and in the majority of instances she is ignorant of the noteworthy investigations along her own line of work.
Ignorance of right living being so apparent in the face of these statistics, it has thus been shown how woman's specialized work in the home in charge of the food supply can hinder the harmonious development of efficient personality through her inability primarily to maintain and increase the vitality of those intrusted to her.
On the other hand, in order to fulfill the further purpose of this paper and to show something of the manner in which woman's work in the home in providing food for her family may help their harmonious mental, moral and social development, and to show if possible the importance of greater knowledge of what is best for individual welfare on the part of the homemakers, three divisions of the subject are made.
1. Since by results woman is shown so ignorant of proper methods of nutrition which will prevent disease and death, methods of improving the commissary departments of our homes are suggested by means of education.
2. Suggestions are made of a practical and natural method of developing the efficient social personality of the child in the home, and an attempt is made to show how a woman following out the industry for which mankind has specialized her can develop her own social personality.
3. At least one preventative of divorce and unhappy home life is suggested.
1. The Need of Educated Homemakers
Let us bear in mind the fact stated before that the home and its caretakers stand as a connecting link between the knowledge of what is best for the individual and the finished product of personality as we find it in society. Or, in other words, the function of the home and of those who minister there is the adjustment of the individual to society through the utilities of the home which are both economic and cultural. Certainly such important work should require some special training. While primarily woman's work is that of dietitian in the home, she must not specialize in this capacity at the sacrifice of her effectiveness as a teacher or the cultural size of home life will suffer. Neither must her training as a dietician and a teacher exclude the training necessary as a financier and as an employer of labor in a broad sense, for the home is in direct touch with the labor problem on all sides. The liveliest imagination and inventive genius she will need also to develop to enable her to meet with discrimination and equanimity the daily complex problems of home life.
It is to be hoped that as yet woman's education is in a transitional stage. The last half century has been given up to proving that women can learn the same lessons as men if they wish to do so. It is very desirable that the next half century may mark a much greater triumph in woman's education by making plain and popular the fact that although she can learn the same lessons as a man she, as a woman, has more important ones to learn of an entirely different nature, bearing on her profession of home making.
N"o man without special training is likely to be employed as consulting engineer on so important an enterprise as the Panama Canal, yet women the country over are intrusted with the vital, the mental, the moral and social welfare of the individuals who make up the state, without any preparation whatever beyond an inheritance of tradition and such additional information as can be gained from home magazines or such other literature as their minds are able to grasp.
There is a sentiment current in respect to woman's higher education that if she is given culture studies, ability will in some way come to her for her life's work. Culture studies are good, but they are only part of the preparation needed by her. She needs for her life's work much more preparation than is ordinarily included under the subject of domestic science in order that she may be competent to develop the personalities of her family in every way. A suitable course for her in order to be of wide value should be a bringing together of all the work of her college days in its bearing upon individual adjustment to society through the medium of the home. The studies of literature, art, music, psychology, pedagogy, child study, emergency nursing, chemistry, physiology, biology, bacteriology, botany, sociology, in their hearing upon home life, will all be necessary for this ideally equipped homemaker. She needs, in other words, to be taught how to control her environment by making use of the knowledge which is available for race progress.
It is not going too far for the state through its educational institutions to require that each woman graduate who goes out from their walls shall be thus equipped for the work which is of greatest value to the state through the home. For instance, the state of Iowa now requires a course in pedagogy extending through much of two years for those who wish to have a state certificate to teach. Iowa might well go much farther and require that each woman who graduates from her university shall be prepared by suitable studies for the position of homemaker which sooner or later she may assume. Iowa is a progressive state in many respects. She is the first to put her educational institutions under a coordinating board. This board has within its power to take a distinct step in advance by enabling the university to offer studies which are especially suited for developing educated women as homemakers and as guardians of efficient social personality.
Most state agricultural colleges and state normal colleges have schools of domestic science to train teachers. The state universities as the crown of the educational system need training schools for wives and mothers, with all the advantages which higher education can give. This training must be of the very highest grade and no expense should be spared to make and keep it thus, so that every woman who goes forth from their halls shall be a center of light in the broadest way on the subjects of the hygiene of environment, of nutrition and of activity. If these conditions can be made to prevail in all our educational institutions, it is safe to say that the coming century will mark great vital, mental, moral and social advancement of the human race. Statistics tell us that at the present time 74,908 women are enrolled in the higher institutions of learning in this country. If each of these 75,000 college women and all who succeed them could go forth from their college life thoroughly prepared for their duties as women a great increase in individual and national efficiency might be expected.
The fact that many women say they "hate house work" does not lessen their responsibility for doing it well since they undertake to do it. A proper education in the fundamentals, the purposes, the methods and the results of home work would no doubt go far to lessen the dislike for that form of labor. The difficulty with the "Man With a Hoe" and the woman with a broom is often the mere fact that they see no connection between present effort and remote results, and thus have no sense of satisfaction or happiness in their work.
Until by a process of evolution some plan of farther combination or socialization of home industries is worked out, in order to raise the standard of home industries it is necessary to take immediate steps to improve conditions in our homes. A wholesale campaign of education of our girls, beginning with the grade schools and extending through our colleges, is the most hopeful means available for improving our homes in their work of developing and maintaining individual and social welfare through the proper adjustment of the individual to society.
2. Home Methods of Developing Personality
One of the difficulties of our educational system to-day is that educated women seem to feel that when they assume the responsibilities of home work they have been made to surrender to disuse whatever mentality they possess. Indeed, one very capable woman said to the writer soon after her marriage, when she was wrestling with the difficulties of domestic management, "Do you not feel your mind becoming atrophied with all this petty round of duties?" In order to be loyal to our little home nest, I replied, "No indeed, I find that my domestic science takes as much mentality as my political science did." I have been trying ever since to live up to that remark, and I have found that the homemaker by following out her path of duty can have an opportunity for mental, moral and social development in proportion to her desire for growth.
The whole world of science centers around the daily work of preparing food. The housewife who wishes mental expansion in this line can begin by perusing the numerous food bulletins of the Department of Agriculture which are provided free. She can hang her kitchen walls with the food charts furnished by the Department of Agriculture for a consideration and learn while at her work the relative values of foods. This knowledge will prepare her to be interested in the many food experiments of the large experiment stations, and while following them through the publications she can add to them by carefully kept records of similar experiments in her own home, and if she is of a literary turn of mind she will find a ready sale for such articles as she chooses to write on the subject. Personal experience has verified this in the study of the food requirements of growing children.
Her interest in her own growing family can lead her to a study of the development of the family, primitive culture and the development of the home and the different phases of what Baldwin calls "the dialectic of personal growth" which occurs in the socialization of each of her children. "While she is increasing her own stock of information in this way she will find that she is becoming a much more interesting companion for her children and is able to show them their real place and share in the world's work. In this way she can exert a much wider influence over them than by merely providing for their physical wants.
We are accustomed to say that the human necessities are food, clothing and shelter. We might better say that the human necessities are food, clothing, shelter and thoughts, for the mind needs food as well as the body. A growing child can get along without clothes and shelter if the climate is not too severe, but he must have physical food and mental food or else fail in human evolution. The mother makes a dire mistake if she ministers to the physical needs alone, and neglects the mental, moral and social personality of her child. While walking along the path of her own home industry, she will find that she can interest her children in world-wide problems, for children can become interested in almost any subject.
For instance, the boys I know best became very much interested in primitive culture, primitive man and his investigations growing out of their interest in the domestic use of fire. They read with delight "The Story of Ab" and parts of Jack London's "Before Adam." They constantly asked for anything new on these subjects. One day their mother heard some one say that when a man is drowned he is always found with his arms up over his head and that this posture is probably a survival of his tree-dwelling days. A few days afterward, the twelve-year-old boy came into the house much the worse for wear, muddy, torn and bruised, but with face radiant. To his mother's query concerning the cause of his condition he exclaimed, "I fell through a manger in an old barn, I suppose I am hurt. I don't know. I didn't have time to think, for when I came down I found my arms were up over my head and I am sure my ancestors must have been tree men."
That mother by following along the path of her own duty had succeeded unconsciously in teaching her boy the power of mind over matter or the uplifting power of an idea and of awakening in him an interest in historical and sociological study.
Lessons in wider social service and morality can be taught just from the necessity of the housemother's preparing food, for children can early be taught to share good things with others less fortunate and they can cultivate the spirit of hospitality.
However, it is quite difficult much of the time for the mother in the home to cultivate a wide feeling of brotherhood in her children, just because the mad scramble toward self preservation which the household duties of to-day entail upon her, if she has no outside help, is apt to develop in the whole family an unwholesome egoism.
A small minority of the women of the country have house servants. This fact means then that the majority of the women, if they do their housework well in all its departments, must have a proper idea of values in order to enable them to do the essentials and leave the non-essentials. However, in order to be an ideal housewife and mother in her work of developing the personality of her family, each woman will need all the aid which education and training can give her as well as a still farther combination of some home industries in order to enable her to have time for the real essentials of abundant life.
Enough has been said to indicate how a woman in following out the profession for which mankind has specialized her in the home can develop her personality in its various lines and that of her children at the same time, if she has wisdom and training. Upon what high ideals she is weaving into their lives depends the steady advancement of the human race.
The supreme moments of the homemaker's life are those when she realizes that her family turn to her for counsel in the deeper questions of life as well as for the fundamental physical needs of food, clothing and shelter.
Not long ago several hundred club women in one of the eastern states were asked to reply to this question, "Who is the greatest woman in history?" Numerous replies were received and a great many women known to history were named. The prize was given to this answer: "The wife of a man of moderate means who does her own cooking, washing and ironing, brings up a large family of boys and girls to be useful members of society, and finds time for her own intellectual and moral improvement—she is the greatest woman in history."
Alarmists tell us sometimes that the home is disintegrating, that with the invasion of some women into industry and the indifference of others in regard to their home responsibilities, the death knell of the home is sounded. However, as long as the home can contribute anything to the development of personality and race progress, it will remain. With advancing education and civilization, no doubt, several of the functions which we now consider necessary will pass from the home, but our homes as the sanctuary of family life are not in danger of disintegration. While there are father-love and mother-love and dependent childhood there will be homes where the physical, the mental, the moral and the social personality can be developed.
If any one thinks the home can go and institutions can take the place of home life with its many activities in the development of personality, let him read this statement, which is typical of many other authorities on the subject from Mr. E. E. Reeder, for many years superintendent of the New York Orphan Asylum.
As long, then, as there is a demand for the influences of home life, the home in some form will continue, for we have not yet outlived the beneficent influences of home life, even though we have outlived some of its former customs.
3. A Prevention for Divorce
The subject of divorce is one which much concerns the sociologists and theologians to-day because of its demoralizing influence on the development of efficient personality in the family.
Satisfies tell us that during the period from 1900-1905, while the population increased 8.7 per cent., divorces increased 22.1 per cent.
It is not the purpose of this paper to enter upon a discussion of divorce except in so far as it is affected by woman's specialized industry in the home of food preparation and resulting necessities. Statistics are wanting on the subject, because as yet the sociologist has not known how to collect them, but a careful observation extending over fifteen years has led to the conclusion that many of our archaic home conditions are prolific causes of discontent and incompatibility. For one thing a woman who must work sixteen hours a day at unspecialized industry with the attendant fatigue, is unable to compete in charm oftentimes with the leisure parasitic class whose lives are devoted to pleasing men. Such overworked women are too tired to be interested in men's affairs or themselves interesting. Oftentimes because of this lack of leisure the discordant note is struck which later grows into utter lack of harmony.
Sometimes too the duties of married life are so taxing in the early years when the children are small that women, because of their excess of physical work, begin to feel a mental deterioration, and this consciousness of a lack of growth or of cumulative happiness often is the pathway leading to the divorce court. On the other hand, if a woman by means of any previous training is enabled to keep in touch with the mental life of her family as well as the physical life, she has in her work of motherhood found the one thing in life worth while, and in her work then she can feel a sense of satisfaction in her own growth and activity or "cumulative happiness," for she has found her share of the world's work. All the learning she can acquire will be none too great for her task, for the growing child is a many-sided personality interested in many things and the mother being most closely associated with him is naturally his teacher and guide, and must know something of many things in order to come into sympathetic touch with his busy brain.
We know, however, that divorce frequently comes in families where women are really idlers in the economic field, who have no responsibility beyond a good time and to be supported by their husbands. In these cases idleness, discontent, desertion and divorce are the result. A socialization of industry would be a good thing for this type of women by compelling them to have some definite share in the social service, for we all know that there is no greater cure for the blues and discontent than rational activity. By the socialization of domestic industry, if it could be brought about, the monotony of isolated home labor would be removed.
The difficulty with the woman who has too much work to do in the home and the woman who has not enough work to do is that they lack expressional freedom, partly from overfatigue and partly from lack of knowledge of the happiest means of self expression. It is a noteworthy fact that Massachusetts, where women are so largely employed in industry, stands forty-first in the matter of divorce, while Washington, where women are not much employed in industry outside the home, stands first, having produced 513 divorces to every 100,000 married couples. All this may go to show that women who are busy in social industry have little time to dwell upon grievances.
A good broadening course in our schools and colleges with a proper presentation of the duties of adult life would do much to lessen divorce, because after all the home is just what men and women make of it as a public utility in the development of efficient personality. Such a course would serve also to establish a tradition in favor of the homemaker and prevent in some degree the rush of women into outside industries which to many now appear attractive.
One of the difficulties with our educational system to-day from the kindergarten upward is that it seeks to make hard things easy, from the learning of the multiplication table to easy helps for Latin and kindred subjects. The only really satisfactory way of mastering the multiplication table is by definitely learning it. All through our educational system this spirit of helping children to avoid the hard things which require persistence and application is shown in our home life when neither men nor women are able to endure the hardships and unpleasant factors which do come up in every home at some time.
Instead of facing these difficult problems and bringing to bear upon them a rational mentality which will restore order from chaos and strengthen the bond of helpfulness between husband and wife, the husband and wife brought up by our educational system to look for easy things, drift from not knowing how to assume responsibility in the home to avoiding it altogether by means of the divorce court.
There are no statistics to prove the statement, yet careful observation in a good many cases has shown that a cheerful common sense and ability to turn defeat into victory through perseverance would have kept many homes intact to-day.
And so, our educational system seems wrong when it permits our boys and girls to grow up looking only for easy places. Too many girls look forward to matrimony as a life of surcease from the disagreeable surroundings before marriage.
In consequence when the water pipes burst and the furnace grate falls out and the refrigerator springs a leak and the baby is teething and fretful and the meals must be prepared and the husband, owing to a belated breakfast, has not had time to be as affectionate as usual in his farewells as he ran for his car—when such a combination as this happens, as we housekeepers all know it can do—unless we are trained to listen for the eternal harmonies behind some of the discords of life, we are apt to grow discontented in home life because of our own inability to make a success of it and to bring to ourselves "cumulative happiness."
However, if we do have a sufficiently high ideal of our mission as homemakers and the spirit and necessary training to inform our task, we can set to work on our domestic problem with a cheerful courage, for we know that ice can be thawed and leaks mended, furnace grates repaired, cross, fretful babies can become the joy and light of a whole household, and belated husbands if only given a chance can more than atone for their seeming indifference.
The explanations just given are presented in order to make the point that an intelligent appreciation on the part of our girls of the responsibilities of home life and skilled knowledge on their part of how to perform their tasks will do much to prevent discontent in the home and desertion from it when unpleasant combinations really arise.
The natural conclusion from this fact is that our educational system should provide some way of showing every girl that she must expect serious conditions in dealing with the serious problems of life and that she must have some training for her fundamental task of developing vital personality with its resultant mental, moral and social responsibilities. Otherwise our whole industrial system must change so that domestic industries can become socialized and women do their share, specializing for home work according to inclination. But in either case for human evolution we must have trained guardians of the personality, whether they be natural mothers or selected ones.
This is not an easy program which is outlined for womankind, but it can be made a very efficient one in race development. The quickest way to get desirable results is by wide-spread education, rather than by waiting for any possible change in our industrial system.
With an increased training in efficiency of women for home industry there can be expected less discontent with unsatisfactory conditions and consequently less divorce. The unity of the home will thus be strengthened and there will result improved conditions for the development of efficient personality.
Thus could be brought together through the necessity of woman's preparing food in the home the best demonstrated forces for the development of efficient social personality.
With a trained womanhood alert for defects and excellencies in home conditions, the home as a social organization in its aid to personality would in time be much improved, for evolution would demand new conditions and the women as guardians of the home through their training would be responsive to these demands.
That there is an awakened public conscience on the subject of the dissemination of knowledge concerning public health is shown by the facts that there is a movement on foot to take from the various government bureaus those departments which relate especially to public health and combine them in one health department, and a petition has been prepared for congress asking that it provide by its bulletins help for women in the homes similar to that which is furnished farmers by the Department of Agriculture.
All these are good signs of progress, but, after all, since now and for many years to come society is going to demand that woman be the guardian of the home, that she prepare the food, that she shall be her children's closest teacher and friend, the most efficient manner of developing personality in the home will be by suitable education of the growing girl and the young woman in preparation for her life's work.
The supreme test of our home organization according to the facts which have been stated is whether or not through its means there is an increase in vitality, mentality, morality and sociality and a decrease in the number of abnormal, unmoral, desocialized and degraded.
Some statistics tell us that when women remain in the home rather than go into outside industry, that there is greater steadiness and industry on the part of the husband, owing supposedly to more hygienic home conditions.
Statistics tell us also that longevity is increasing, that it has increased five years since 1855.
Then our homes, standing as they do as the connecting link between the knowledge of what is best for the race and the finished product in society, are doing a great work.
However, on the other hand, statistics as quoted above tell us that the death rate of infants is abnormally high, that preventable diseases are excessively prevalent, that divorces are too frequent, and that the "unpreparedness of women" is responsible for sickness, disability, degeneracy and resulting misery or maladjustment to society, and that if only the knowledge available for preventing disease could be disseminated and utilized, longevity would be much increased.
These facts show that while the mother in the home by the preparation of food and resulting responsibilities is doing much for race betterment, there is imperative need for greater ability in some way to enable woman to make use of the results of scientific research, in order that there may be in the human race "an increase of vitality, of sound and high mentality, and of sociality."
A practical service of the sociologist is to reveal points at which educational work will tell for race advancement; so an attempt has been made to show that a changed system of education for girls can do much toward a harmonious development of personality, and that this preparation of food for which society has specialized womankind may be fundamentally helpful in individual growth if the housemother can do what she does intelligently and does not do so much of it that she can have no sense of success in it.
The state assumes the right to say what training in its institutions people shall have who intend to practise medicine or dentistry, or law or to teach children in public schools. It ought to assert some control over the training of people who are to be in charge of the consumption of all wealth and of child culture in the home. The ordinary college education is not enough, for many unsuccessful homemakers have that.
The training for educated homemakers should include a thorough knowledge of the subject of personal hygiene with its three divisions: (1) nutrition, or a knowledge of the food requirements of mankind and the best way to provide for them; (2) environment, or a knowledge of air, soil, dwellings, clothing; (3) activity or a knowledge of the correct proportion between exercise and rest.
Each one of these divisions includes many departments of learning. To these subjects should be added a thorough knowledge of sex hygiene. With a knowledge of all these subjects should go an attitude of mind which is able to develop powers equal to one's tasks.
- The writer wishes to express her sense of obligation in the preparation of this paper to the department of sociology and economics and the department of chemistry of the State University of Iowa.
- Gesammelte Schriften von Adolf Fick, "Ueber die Entstehung der Muskelkraft," Band 2.
- Von Voit, "Physiologie des Allgemeinen Stoffwechsels und der Ernaehrung."
- Atwater, "Foods, Nutritive Value and Cost," "Food and Diet," and others, U. S. Department of Agriculture.
- Chittenden, "Physiological Economy in Nutrition," 1904; Chittenden, "The Nutrition of Man," 1907. F. A. Stokes Co.
- Giddings, "Inductive Sociology," p. 248.
- Ibid., p. 250.
- Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations," part 1, chapter 8.
- The publications of the United States Bureau of Labor, the publications of the Bureaus of Labor of Connecticut and Massachusetts and the publications of the Department of Agriculture; Devine, "Principles of Belief," chapter 3; Bosanquet, "The Standard of Life and other Studies"; Booth, "Life and Labor of People in London"; More, "Wage Earner's Budgets"; Chapin, "The Standard of Living in New York City."
- Fisher, "Influence of Flesh Eating on Endurance," Yale Medical Journal, March, 1907; Fisher, "The Effects of Diet on Endurance," The Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Giddings, "Inductive Sociology," part 4, The Social Welfare.
- Giddings, "Inductive Sociology," p. 249.
- An address delivered before the Iowa City High School, December, 1909.
- Bevier and Usher, "History of the Household Economics Movement."
- Chittenden, "Physiological Economy of Nutrition," Chittenden, "The Nutrition of Man." The F. A. Stokes Company.
- "Mortality Statistics," 1908, p. 8, Special Census Report, Department of Commerce and Labor.
- Ibid., p. 9.
- Rockwood, Popular Science Monthly, March, 1911.
- Irving Fisher, "Bulletin of the Committee of One Hundred on National Health."
- Ibid., p. 3.
- Ibid., p. 39.
- Ibid., p. 40.
- Devine, "Misery and its Causes," p. 74.
- Ibid., p. 84.
- Survey, December 4, 1909.
- More, "Wage Earner's Budgets."
- See report for 1908 Illinois Institution for the Blind.
- "Marriage and Divorce," p. 11, Special Census Report, Department of Commerce and Labor.
- Wm, G. Curtis, "Ages of Universities," Record Herald, April 15, 1910.
- E. W. and L. C. Rockwood, Science, XXXII., p. 351.
- "Charities," Vol. 11, 1908, p. 151.
- "Marriage and Divorce," Special Census Report, Department of Commerce and Labor, 1909.