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“Individualism, once the glorious prerogative of wealth, fame and beauty, is now the reward of the aware.”

Sarah Tomerlin Lee in 1965



Photographer: Rob Stephenson

Post-World War II American architects, designers, and manufacturers sought to find new ways to house returning veterans and their families by developing well-designed affordable architecture and household furnishings. Sarah and Tom Lee were actively involved in this effort. Tom designed housing prototypes featured in major magazines and created exhibitions that promoted new domestic technologies including television. Sarah marketed housewares and in the 1960s served as the editor-in-chief of House Beautiful magazine.


Domesticity Context

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In addition to manufacturers making and promoting innovative domestics products from plywood to synthetic upholstery, popular magazines such as Life captivated their readers with designs for new homes.

In 1945, Chicago-based entrepreneur John H. Johnson launched Ebony magazine. Based on the format and look of Life magazine, which combined text with extensive photography, Ebony focused on the achievements and everyday lives of Black Americans. The magazine redressed the exclusionary focus of Life and other mainstream publications with positive depictions of African American lifestyles in articles and advertisements.

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