Friday Finds in Special Collections: House and Home

Gray, Greta. House and Home: A Manual and Text-Book of Practical House Planning. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1923.

As her listed qualifications, Greta Gray graduated both from MIT in architecture and from Teachers College at Columbia University in Household Arts. For a more extensive biography and discussion of her accomplishments, please see UCLA’s In Memoriam, Greta Gray.


When I initially selected Ms. Gray’s book, the cover led me to believe that it was a house keeping or home owner’s manual; however, her work seems more complex than I expected. She encourages engagement, reflection, and perhaps social reform. She writes:

The house is all-important in moulding our lives and its selection demands careful study. We should have house standards, know what is essential, and what we can do without. We have food standards, we have some attempts at standardized dress for women as well as for men, and we should formulate certain minimum standards of housing and have an understanding of the best way in which money beyond the amount required to reach the standard may be spent on the house to add to the pleasure and satisfaction of those who live within it. (pg. 2)

To achieve this end, she includes some unexpected chapters- Town Planning, The Farm HouseOwning versus Renting, and Multiple Houses and the Housing Problem. She also includes two chapters on the history of architecture from which she develops a series of Architectural Rules (pg. 185-191). The chapter on Modern Architecture concludes with a call for a new architectural style to reflect the American spirit (pg. 191-194). Most of the chapters are followed by a set of action points or questions; therefore, even the more traditional chapters like The Location may spark reflection not only on one’s home but also on the larger built environment and related social issues. Finally, she includes a dictionary of architectural terms.