Today in History

Today in History: May 2

Good Housekeeping

two children in old-fashioned snowsuits
Cover of Good Housekeeping (detail), February 1926.
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Good Housekeeping made its debut on May 2, 1885. One of several popular women's magazines founded in the 1880s and 1890s, Good Housekeeping provided information about running a home, a broad range of literary offerings, and opportunities for reader input.

Founded by journalist-businessman Clark W. Bryan in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Good Housekeeping soon moved to Springfield. In 1911, with a circulation of 300,000, the magazine was purchased by the Hearst Publishing Company and moved to New York. In 2006, the magazine had approximately 4.6 million paid subscribers.

exterior of a house
World's Fair, Good Housekeeping House. General entrance facade.
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer, July 1935.
Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, 1935-1955

Well-known writers who have contributed to the magazine include Somerset Maugham, Edwin Markham, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Frances Parkinson Keyes, and Evelyn Waugh. Following the death of Calvin Coolidge his widow, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, memorialized him in its pages. In an effort to stay close to its audience, many Good Housekeeping articles have been contributed by readers.

The magazine began testing and evaluating consumer goods and making recommendations to readers in 1900. This practice evolved when the magazine's consumer product evaluation laboratory became the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.The Institute awards selected products whose advertisements have been reviewed and accepted for publication in Good Housekeeping its "Seal of Approval."

The Good Housekeeping Guaranty
The Good Housekeeping Guaranty, Good Housekeeping, February 1926.
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Donn Jefferson Sheets residence
Donn Jefferson Sheets Residence, New Preston, Connecticut,
for Good Housekeeping, Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer, July 1935.
Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, 1935-1955

  • Photographs commissioned by Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, and Home and Garden are among the 29,000 negatives and color transparencies featured in Architecture and Interior Design for the 20th Century America, 1935-1955. This collection of photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner provides a detailed look at architectural styles and trends throughout the nation from the perspective of the architect as well as the client. Search the collection on House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, or Home and Garden to see more examples of photographs taken for these publications.
  • See the Today in History feature on Condé Nast to find more material on the history of magazine publishing in the U.S. Also see the feature on Grace Abbott, named one of the "Twelve Greatest American Women" by Good Housekeeping in 1931.
  • Search on the term magazine in FSA/OWI Black and White Photographs, 1935-1945 for images of a variety of periodicals.
  • A search on the term good housekeeping in The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 yields several advertisements placed in that magazine.

James F. Byrnes

James Francis Byrnes
James Francis Byrnes, Kiplinger Series of Wartime Leaders of Prominence, by M. Kalish,
Theodor Horydczak, photographer, circa 1920-1950.
Washington As it Was, 1923-1959

James F. Byrnes was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 2, 1882. (He falsified his year of birth in order to become a court reporter-stenographer in 1900.  As a result, his birth year is often reported as 1879.) Although his formal education ended at age fourteen, Byrnes became a lawyer and had an influential role in the political careers of presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon.

Byrnes held an array of public offices and suffered electoral defeat only once, in 1924, for refusing endorsement by the Ku Klux Klan. He represented South Carolina in the House (1911-25) and Senate (1931-41). In the Senate, he spearheaded much of his friend Franklin Roosevelt's (FDR) New Deal legislation.

Byrnes was sworn in as associate justice of the Supreme Court in July 1941. FDR appointed him director of the office of Economic Stabilization in May 1942, and director of the Office of War Mobilization in May 1943. Popularly known as "assistant president for domestic affairs," Byrnes had authority over production, procurement, and distribution of all civilian and military goods, manpower allocation, and economic stability.

Byrnes attended the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt and was appointed secretary of state (1945-47) by President Truman with whom he attended the Potsdam Conference. Byrnes represented the U.S. on the "Council of Foreign Ministers," assembled to write the WWII peace treaties. For these efforts, he was recognized as Time magazine's "Man of the Year" for 1946.

Although a segregationist, while governor of South Carolina (1951-55), Byrnes ensured passage of anti-mask and anti-cross burning bills (rebuffs to the Klan) and created a sales tax intended to bring parity to the state's deplorably maintained minority schools. However, the Civil Rights movement called for deeper change and Thurgood Marshall (and the NAACP (external link)) challenged the state's "separate but equal" policy with a lawsuit, Briggs v. Elliott. Fearing Marshall's success would evoke a violent backlash from white demagogues and undercut his own efforts, Byrnes had the state's lawyer admit to gross inequities and propose a detailed plan for improved schools which the court would monitor. Byrnes prevailed locally, but Marshall rolled the case into Brown v. the Board of Education, a successful national challenge to Plessy v. Ferguson and the doctrine of "separate but equal."

As with John C. Calhoun a century earlier, Byrnes's position on state's rights became ever more pronounced. He led disaffected Southern Democrats to endorse Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election because the Republican platform stated it was the responsibility of the state, rather than federal government, to carry forth civil rights reform. After suffering a long illness, Byrnes passed away in April 1972.