The Light of the Home


An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America
Harvey Green
978-1-55728-760-1 (paper)
978-1-61075-726-3 (audiobook)
April 2003


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“This book offers a beautifully illustrated and compellingly argued case for the centrality of domestic architecture and decoration to the social identities and cultural values of middle-class Americans in the Victorian era. . . . Green’s book was among a handful that located material objects within a rich and complex historical context and showed how they helped to constitute, not just ornament, middle-class family life. Despite the book’s pioneering status, it stands up brilliantly over time. Indeed, given the renewed attention among historians, literary scholars, and gender studies scholars to domesticity and its myriad functions, Light of the Home will find a ready audience across disciplines. . . . The book will also, I am sure, continue to have a popular audience, especially among people who tour historic houses, support historic preservation, and browse museum gift shops. Bravo to University of Arkansas Press for reviving a classic!”
—Nancy Hewitt, co-editor of Companion to American Women’s History, and author of Southern Discomfort: Women’s Activism in Tampa, Florida, 1880s-1920s

“Harvey Green’s Light of the Home is a rich portrait of Victorian domesticity and everyday life. Lively, accessible writing and evocative illustrations combine in this volume to convey a sense of nineteenth-century family relationships, women’s experiences, and the material culture of the home.”
—Kathy Peiss, author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture and Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York

“A fascinating, lavishly illustrated, and very disturbing inventory of the means by which ‘women’s place’ has been defined.”
Washington Post Book World

“Green’s lively text . . . is delightfully illustrated with pictures and artifacts.”

“A beautiful book, and a significant contribution to our understanding of middle-class women in Victorian America.”
—Warren Susman, author of Culture As History: The Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century

Harvey Green is a professor of history and thedirector of the Public History Program at Northeastern University. He is the author of The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945 and Fit for America: Health, Fitness, Sport, and American Society 1830-1940. Mary-Ellen Perry was the principal curator of the exhibit “The Light of the Home: Middle-Class AmericanWomen: 1870-1910” at the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester, New York.