Title page for ETD etd-01312011-141553

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Blanchette, Emily Elizabeth
URN etd-01312011-141553
Title Selling the Mechanized Household to Black America: Race and Gender in Domestic Technology Advertising, 1945-1980
Degree Master of Science
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Abbate, Janet E. Committee Chair
Brown, Shannon A. Committee Member
La Berge, Ann F. Committee Member
  • domestic technology
  • household labor
  • black family structure
  • race in advertising
Date of Defense 2011-01-20
Availability unrestricted
In the twentieth century, the target market for household technologies was identified and labeled "Mrs. Consumer," and the lifestyle, values, and ideals attributed to her guided household technology marketing throughout the century. Bonnie Fox conducted an investigation into household technology marketing techniques, using advertisements in Ladies Home Journal (LHJ) as her source material. I argue here that, because of the homogenous, mostly-white readership of LHJ, Fox's use of only LHJ advertisements limited some of the conclusions she could draw about Mrs. Consumer's lifestyle, values, and ideals. This thesis studies household technology advertisements in Ebony magazine and current literature about the black American experience to identify the impact of including race in the evaluation of household technology advertising in twentieth century America. In particular, this thesis addresses Mrs. Consumer's extensibility across race; Ebony's household technology advertisements' treatment of segregation, integration, assimilation, and racial pride; and those advertisements' handling of the public opinion that the twentieth century American black family structure was "pathological." This research identifies similarities and differences between the advertisement practices in Ebony and LHJ in those areas of interest, concluding that the black American housewife's home experience was more likely to be divergent from Mrs. Consumer's attributed reality and that Ebony's advertisers tended toward the aspirational when modeling and scripting household technology advertisements.
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