On May 2, 1885, the first issue of Good Housekeeping magazine was published. Founded by Clark W. Bryan in Holyoke, MA, the stated mission of the magazine was “to produce and perpetuate perfection — or as near unto perfection as may be attained in the household.” For over 130 years, Good Housekeeping has been a go-to magazine for women. The magazine also has a long history of evaluating consumer products for safety with its Good Housekeeping Institute and the Good Housekeeping Seal. For most of history, women were in charge of all domestic-related matters. Good Housekeeping continues to play a vital role in supporting anyone in this role.
Since early on, Good Housekeeping took its mission of producing and perpetuating perfection in the household seriously. In the late 19th century, the magazine published groundbreaking articles about food safety and advocated for consumer protection. As early as 1887, Good Housekeeping reported on topics ranging from watered-down milk to candy contaminated with asbestos. The magazine launched a national campaign about the need for a federal consumer protection law that resulted in the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.
Meanwhile, starting in 1900, they founded the Good Housekeeping Experiment Station, renamed the Good Housekeeping Research Institute in 1910. Scientists and other experts developed cooking time and temperature charts for many foods. They also developed and tested recipes for the magazine. In 1909, they launched the Good Housekeeping Seal. To this day, if a product or recipe is stamped with the Good Housekeeping Seal, it signifies the magazine promises the customer a two-year limited warranty. They have since introduced the Green Good Housekeeping Seal to help consumers make environmentally-friendly choices.
In 1911, after reaching a circulation of 300,000, the magazine was bought by Hearst Corporation. Even during the Great Depression, Good Housekeeping was one of Hearst’s most successful magazines. Today, the magazine has a readership of 17 million between its print and digital editions, as well as more than 12 million website readers.
Throughout the years, the magazine has featured seminal female writers, including Betty Friedan and Edna St. Vincent Millay. In fact, Betty Friedan’s 1960 article, “Women Are People Too,” was the precursor to her groundbreaking feminist tract, “The Feminine Mystique.”
Although men are starting to do their fair share of household chores, for a long time women were the main (if not only) contributors to the domestic sphere. As a result, Good Housekeeping magazine played a key role in women’s daily life. By taking a scientific approach to product safety and recipe standards, Good Housekeeping magazine has been an authority for anyone looking to “perpetuate perfection at home” for well over a century.