Artifact Corner: Good Housekeeping Magazine

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another Artifact Corner. Today we will be looking at this copy of Good Housekeeping magazine from December of 1914. The magazine has your normal articles, some advice columns, and just like today, dozens of advertisements. The cover of the magazine is in color, while the interior is printed in black and white. Because it is the December issue, much of the magazine is about Christmas and New Years. Let’s learn a bit more about the Good Housekeeping Magazine.

Good Housekeeping’s first magazine was published on May 2, 1885. The mission of the magazine was “to produce and perpetuate perfection — or as near unto perfection as may be attained in the household.” This is certainly a lofty mission. The magazine became a monthly publication in 1891, and by 1911 it had a circulation of around 300,000 people. Now, Good Housekeeping is not only a magazine, but also an Institute that was designed to provide consumer protection and wellness. Founded in 1900, the Good Housekeeping Institute was, at first, called the Good Housekeeping Experiment Station. The invention of electricity had introduced many new labor-saving home appliances but few consumers had any real knowledge of their operation and maintenance. With the goal of studying “the problems facing the homemaker and to develop up-to-date firsthand information on solving them,” the staff at the GH Experiment Station tested products and housekeeping methods and published articles about their discoveries and observations. They also reprinted advice from readers who wrote them. One reader offered a cure for callouses (she used olive oil and cotton); another reader advised about how to launder lace drapes; and another gave tips about the best way to clean a meat chopper.

In our edition of the magazine there is a discussion about the act of gift giving around the holidays, and whether or not it is still in vogue. Here is an excerpt from the article; “It would not be advisable to stop all Christmas giving, as many conscientiously try to give gifts of value and utility. But the usual orgy of shopping, when anything, no matter how ill chosen, is purchased and sent to get someone off the list, should by all means be stopped – by each one’s not taking part in it. What is the most acceptable gift? There is none for all people. A box of candy will be just the thing for one to give; a ton of coal for another. Give what you please, but give advisedly – put your heart in it, or don’t give.” To be perfectly honest, this seems like good advice, even 100 plus years on.

Our magazine has seen better days. The cover has a lot of wear, and has come away from the main body of the magazine. This is unsurprising given that the magazine is 107 years old. Other than the cover, the body of the magazine is in quite good condition. This is a fascinating look back at one of the first women’s magazines in the United States, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Music: Acoustic Breeze by Benjamin Tissot