Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America
Diane Harris, Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013) While many people are enamored with the various revivals and depictions of postwar life, as seen in such TV shows as Mad Men and its story of the advertising world of Madison Avenue, they obscure the racial separation in all aspects of life in that era. Even a cursory review of publications on residential life or even professional or trade books on such things as school design reveal a uniformly white society devoid of any racial or ethnic diversity. Diane Harris’ new book is one of a number of more recent publications that explore postwar residential architecture in the context of that society. She focuses not just on building design or plans. Such closely related cultural aspects as furniture, household goods, photographic and TV representations as well as outdoor spaces and gardens to name only a few of the issues that are included and being addressed. The book is a surprising but thoughtful and important reminder of the monochromatic character of postwar society before the Civil Rights Act or Brown vs. Board of Education.