Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Teaching the American Twenties: Exploring the Decade through Literature and Art


House and Home

Introduction

"Maintaining a high percentage of individual homeowners is one of the searching tests that now challenge the people of the United States. The present large proportion of families that own their own homes is both the foundation of a sound economic and social system and a guarantee that our society will continue to develop rationally as changing conditions demand."
Herbert Hoover, Commerce Secretary in How to Own Your Own Home (1923)

Hand in hand with the increase in prosperity and personal wealth in the Twenties went an increasing passion about house, home, and consumer goods. During this decade the media spent over a billion dollars in advertising to promote private domestic life and mass consumerism. In architectural theory, novels, and films, the private self came to be increasingly valued and identified with the private home. The emergence of the suburbs was particularly tied to this new kind of glamour and glitter, as epitomized in magazine advertisements aimed at the new homeowners of the middle class. Home decoration manuals and etiquette books served as guides for the good life, and bungalows dotted the landscape.

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Advertisement for closed car from Ford from <em>Vanity Fair</em>, July 1924
Advertisement for closed car from Ford from Vanity Fair, July 1924
Ford Motor Company

Vanity Fair, a magazine devoted to cutting-edge cultural and intellectual subjects, ran ads promoting fashion, home furnishing, and luxury items.

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