Breaking Mason Dixon's line : transformation of the kitchen space

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Deiber, Camilla R.
McKee, Ann K.
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Thesis (M.S.H.P.)
Department of Architecture
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The purpose of this study was to explore the societal and technological influences on the modernization and design of the kitchen space between the years of 1890 and 1940. The development of the kitchen space is an important reflection of the conditions in which women worked and of women's role in the family. Examining the physical transformation of the kitchen space is the principal foundation on which to build a fundamental understanding of women's changing role in the home. The influences of advancing technology in home appliances and the advice of Home Economists were examined and weighed against each other as to their impact on the kitchen space. Transformation of the kitchen space began with the organization of tasks into work centers by Home Economists. Equipment and appliances were grouped together according to the task, such as cooking. Organization of work in the kitchen resulted in three distinct work areas centered around the sink, stove, and refrigerator. These principles of work organization were established by the end of the 1930's. It is at this time that advancements in appliance technology truly began to impact on the kitchen space. Affordability and acceptance of electricity as a "fuel" for kitchen appliances in the 1930's made electric stoves and refrigerators more appealing to the average household. Electric and gas appliances used "cooler" fuels which emitted less heat on the exterior. This property allowed these appliances to be built into cabinetry without danger of fire, a principle that had prevented the extensive use of built-in cabinetry prior to the 1930's.