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The Housewife in the 1960's

Still a man's world, but changing...slowly

With the exception of two World Wars when women were given jobs to keep the home fires burning and manufacturing various things to ensure victory was at hand, the role of the housewife had not changed much in an enormous amounts of decades; they were the little lady at home whose almost sole intention in life was to get married and raise children.

Things would change however, 'Women's Lib' would come in through the 60's and challenged many things such as fair say, employment, equal pay and more.


Up until this time much was the same...

The Wife would be seen as the stay at home keeping the house in order, bear children and make sure everything was fit for her husband to come home to. The impression was the man was the one who did the proper work, the wife didn't, just spend all her time making everything right.

If you had Children, the wife / mother would stay at home, very rarely was anyone in a position where they would (even if they could) have Nanny's. There were no Playgroups or Nurseries as there are today. The Mother was responsible for the children until they started full time education at the age of five.

A typical day would be...

Get up and make breakfast for all the family.
Making sure the husband was suitably attired for whatever job he did.
Getting the children ready for school, if at that age.
Cleaning and dusting the house, washing, making the beds, ironing and anything else.
Do the shopping - this was mainly daily as many still had no Fridges, certainly not Freezers.
Maybe have the neighbour round for a cup of Tea at some stage.
Collect the Children from School and feed them.
After that, getting ready for husband to come home by preparing his Supper.
Putting the children to bed.

1960s womanAll in all it was a man's world, he may see very little of the children except the weekends, even then he would probably be off to play Cricket or any other seasonal sport.

Women did work, but this was unusual especially until the children were way into their teens.

Schools reflected this, girls would learn Cookery and Domestic Sciences then before getting married would work in situations where, although doing the same job as men, they would earn less and rarely progress.

I'm sure some readers will know of exceptions to the case, but I think this gives a pretty good picture.

Women's Lib played it's part but it still took probably another two decades for it to really show it's mark and even now it could be said there are many things where the woman is the underdog.

The social change in the 60's had a major impact; the Beatles, the Rolling Stones came along bringing with them a new need for freedom and peace, this was not just directed at one gender but to both.

Occasionally as the left hand pictures show 'the wife' or 'the Missus' would be taken to a Party!

As Bob Dylon sang.. 'The times they are a changin' !


barbara mullen
Barbara Mullen, one of the 1960's Queens of Cookery

woman magazine 1965

family circle magazine 1966
Woman and Family Circle Magazines, both popular reading



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