Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/291

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times so nobly to adjust the personalities of themselves and their families to adverse conditions, Professor Devine says, "We find the beginnings of those tendencies which often lead to suicide or crime, to disabling disease or helpfulness." In this same connection of the preparation of home makers for adapting themselves and their families to their environment, charity workers agree that among working people the women who have been in domestic service are much better able to manage on their income than those who have spent their girlhood in factories.[1] Intemperance, which is known by all charity workers to be a prolific cause of crime, is often excused in its first manifestations as resulting from innutritious food. In families where the wages would be sufficient to supply nutritious food, the homemakers do not know how to buy or to prepare it. Hence previous domestic training is of great value.

This "unpreparedness" of women in our homes is not confined alone to a knowledge of foods. Because woman is specialized by society for housework, and the care of children, the general responsibility for the health of her family is hers also. But so often through ignorance she is not equal to this responsibility. For instance, statistics and the reports of the various state charitable institutions show that a large per cent, of blindness among children is due to diseased conditions which might be remedied by intelligent care at birth,[2] or might have been prevented years before by a proper knowledge of sex hygiene.

Intermarrying is also given by experts as a cause of physical degeneracy such as deaf mutism. Both of these social errors might be diminished by greater knowledge on the part of the guardians of the homes of the vital necessities of the race in the matter of sex and reproduction. The economic necessity which presses so hard to-day upon the man as bread-winner of the family lays all the more responsibility upon the woman in the home not only as in the first essential of food, but in all hygienic matters which pertain to vital efficiency.

Statistics tell us that with the present home system divorce is increasing much faster than the population. Divorce was about three times greater in 1905 than in 1870.[3]

The special census report of the Department of Commerce and Labor shows that the most important ground for divorce is desertion and of the divorces granted to the husband nearly one half had desertions as their cause. That is, one half of the husbands who sued for divorce had for a cause the desertion of the wives. It would look from this fact as though women are growing weary of home conditions.

We have then the fact that with our present system of homes, one

  1. More, "Wage Earner's Budgets."
  2. See report for 1908 Illinois Institution for the Blind.
  3. "Marriage and Divorce," p. 11, Special Census Report, Department of Commerce and Labor.