Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Word of the day: homework

Before there was homework, there was homework . The Oxford English Dictionary dates homework as school stuff to 1852: “schoolwork assigned to a pupil to be done outside lesson time (typically at home).” But homework (or home-work, or home work ) has been work of another kind since 1653: “work done at home, esp. as distinguished from work done in a factory.”

My mom came across a reference to the older kind of homework while reading, and it made her remember the homework of her childhood: carding bobby pins with her mother and grandmother during the Depression. I found a brief reference to such work via Google Books:

[Eileen Boris, Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States (Cambridge University Press, 1994).]

The fashion trend: shorter hair.

And the work turns up in an alphabetical list of “most common types of industrial home work”:

[Robert Jenkins, Procedural History of the 1940 Census of Population and Housing (The Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1983).]

Google Patents has a patent for a bobby-pin carding machine, filed in 1948 and published in 1953, by which time my relations were out of the business. And many other people soon would be.

A related post
Homework , not a good word for college

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