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Household Service Demonstration Project

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Household Service Demonstration Project

A poster advertising the Household Service Demonstration Project

The Household Service Demonstration Project (HSDP) was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project designed to train women for domestic employment.[1]

History

The project was an offshoot of the Household Workers’ Training Program. The WPA announced the project in March 1937.[2] It got under way around July 1937[3] and ended it in January 1942.[4] The project was formally authorized by United States Congress in 1938. It offered training and employment in WPA training centers[5] giving demonstrations of housework.[6] The WPA designed it to promote the employment of women certified as qualified for private household employment and to promote the techniques of household service.[7]

Accomplishments

The project trained 30,000 women.[8] Middle-aged women were preferred due to the perceived unreliability and increased risk of marriage of younger women.[9] The project employed 1,700 women to give two- and three-month courses in cooking and serving food, house and child care, washing, ironing, and marketing.[10] Other skills taught included table setting,[9] home management, budgeting and knitting.[9]

The Program

In Washington, during the course of their training, trainees were paid $46 a month. After passing written and oral exams, diplomas were awarded to graduates.[11] After completing training, a graduate could make $60 a month as a domestic.[9]

Locations

Demonstration sites were located at 400 South Capitol Street in Washington, DC,[12] and at 217 E Boone Ave in Spokane, Washington.

Assessments

The HSDP was called Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite project.[13] It was part of the WPA’s traditional emphasis.[14] The assistant state supervisor of seven household service projects in Pennsylvania was reported as saying, "There is something so obvious about a woman working in a home that I wonder why a project such as this wasn't begun many years ago."

References

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