USA 1930-31

This information has been created by the Teresa Harms, Centre for Time Use Research at the University College London

Samples included

1930 Women's College Time Use Study

Sample description
Country: USA 1930-31
Study title: USDA Homemaker Studies: College Women
Collector: USDA
When conducted: 1930-1931
Sampling method and study design: The US Department of Agriculture, under the Purnell Act, coordinated a large Homemaker Time Use Study of Farm, Town and College women in the 1920s and early 1930s. At least 1500 Homemakers were surveyed across several states including California, Michigan, Montana and Oregon. The data were first reported in 1929 by the chief of the Economics Division of the USDA Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, Hildegard Kneeland, and formed the basis for subsequent home economics studies during the 1930s.

The homemakers completed a detailed sequential record of their time-use for seven consecutive days, including a daily record of unpaid and paid domestic work, and help received from household members and others. A comprehensive 'supplementary questionnaire' provided information about household composition and characteristics, appliances and equipment, and the diarist's most and least enjoyable activities. The original 58-activity coding frame included 31 activities relating to unpaid work, 18 to personal care and leisure, and nine to farm and other paid work.

Recently, survey materials from 566 'Farm' and 75 'College' homemakers were re-discovered in the US National Archives in Maryland. The only Farm women records recovered (to date) are researcher-produced 'summary' sheets of weekly aggregate times in various activities for each homemaker. However, each record included the homemaker's (or her husband's) given and family name, as well as home address. The 'College' women (alumni from the 'Seven Sisters Colleges' including Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley) materials include 75 original 7-day time-use diaries, supplementary questionnaires and researcher-produced summary sheets.

No direct evidence of the USDA's general methods of sample selection, or of the sampling frame for the 566 rural homemakers in the surviving sample, has (as yet) come to light. On the basis of our supposition that the 566 summary records are drawn from the 808 reported by the USDA (1944), it is possible that 242 records are missing. The College women sample was drawn from the 1880 to 1893 alumnae of Seven Sisters colleges. Approximately 2,000 were invited to participate, although only 75 complete datasets survive.

Over 93 percent of the names and addresses of the 566 researcher-prepared rural household summary records have been matched to US Federal Census micro-data from 1920 to 1940. Variations in the spelling of family and given names and household relocations complicated the matching process, so additional sources were employed to resolve problems of identification (including birth, death, and marriage indexes; voting registers; social security numbers; city directories; military draft records; immigration and travel documents; and other material, such as obituaries and newspaper articles). Over 95 percent Census matching for the College women sample has been achieved.

The USDA College women's time-use diary data, coupled with the detailed supplementary questionnaire constitute the only evidence prior to the mass diffusion of electrical household equipment, appliances and broadcast media, and provide a unique opportunity to explore living conditions and various aspects of daily life in the early 1930s. This is the first time that the original College women's diaries have been digitised and re-coded using the 2017 American Time Use Survey (ATUS) coding lexicon and the AHTUS coding frame. Findings on a range of daily activities, including paid and unpaid work, educational pursuits, volunteering and leisure will be presented and compared with more recent time-use data.
Sample size: Total: 75 women
Response rate: Unknown
Weighting procedures: Cannot be computed, as full sample characteristics not available.
Sources of information: The National Archives at College Park, Maryland
Diary characteristics: Age range: 23-59
Number dairy days: 7
Multi-member household diary: No
Interval: Diarists recorded starting and stopping times
Secondary Activities: No
Where the activity was carried out: No
Who else was present: No
Number of activity codes: 98 codes
Available documentation: Readme

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