Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870-1900

Synopsis

Adams argues that the many significant changes seen in this period were due not to architects' efforts but to the work of feminists and health reformers. Contrary to the widely held belief that the home symbolized a refuge and safe haven to Victorians, Adams reveals that middle-class houses were actually considered poisonous and dangerous and explores the involvement of physicians in exposing "unhealthy" architecture and designing improved domestic environments. She examines the contradictory roles of middle-class women as both regulators of healthy houses and sources of disease and danger within their own homes, particularly during childbirth. Architecture in the Family Way sheds light on an ambiguous period in the histories of architecture, medicine, and women, revealing it to be a time of turmoil, not of progress and reform as is often assumed.