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Artifacts and Fiction - Workshop in American Literature
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Discipline Tutorial: Domestic Architecture
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serial: #5802
Anonymous, HOME WASHING MACHINE AND WRINGER (1869) courtesy of Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-4590].

Despite its obvious participation in the idealization of the kitchen, the "Home Washing Machine" lithograph does problematize some of the assumptions behind sentimental descriptions of women's labor like Stowe's representation of Rachel Halliday. Domestic chores are not presented as effortless here, for two of the women are shown bent over their work. The lithograph also makes clear that economic class affects a woman's role and responsibilities within the domestic realm - in this picture, the well-dressed mistress of the house supervises what appear to be servants, who are doing the heavy labor. And the banner above the picture calls our attention to the role of the machine in their work, giving much of the credit to new technology rather than the women's "will to clean."

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