Stinks and Bangs: Amateur Science and Gender in 20th Century Living Spaces

ICON, the international journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology, v.19 (2013): 33-59.

Posted: 14 May 2016

Date Written: June 1, 2013

Abstract

Hobbies in the United States and Britain co-evolved with twentieth-century living spaces, especially single-family residences. Scientific hobbies associated primarily with men and boys, such as photography, amateur chemistry, junior rocketry, model railroading, automobile mechanics and carpentry tended to create domestic disamenities in the form of loud noises, penetrating and sometimes poisonous stenches, fire hazards and ever-expanding clutters of tools, materials and projects finished and unfinished. In cities, basements and attics were pressed into service as retreats for amateur scientists; in suburbs and rural areas male hobbyists insulated family members from their ‘stinks and bangs’ by colonizing garages, sheds, barns, and even former chicken coops as recreational work spaces. Gendering of leisure activities and work spaces has persisted into the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Hobbies, Architecture, science, gender

JEL Classification: J16, L83, N62

Suggested Citation

Maines, Rachel, Stinks and Bangs: Amateur Science and Gender in 20th Century Living Spaces (June 1, 2013). ICON, the international journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology, v.19 (2013): 33-59., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2779654

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