Cover image for Building an American identity : pattern book homes and communities, 1870-1900
Building an American identity : pattern book homes and communities, 1870-1900
Smeins, Linda E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
335 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA7571 .S54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This work follows the evolution of the pattern book houses and how they represented the notion of home and community in American historical memory. The book also includes illustrations of such communities.

Author Notes

Western Washington University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Pattern books were products of the last quarter of the 19th century; their designs supported the prevailing ideology of social mobility and progress as a moral imperative. Within these books were patterns for literally constructing the "American dream." Smeins (Western Washington Univ.) has looked beyond these books as mere proponents of architectural styles to incorporate them as elements in organizing nuclear families and establishing a much-sought-after American identity. Through a rich, well-organized text peppered with reprinted pattern book illustrations, Smeins examines this unique architectural feature as an untapped component of a larger study: late 19th-century home, family, and society. Inclusive in this area of study are such companion books as David P. Handlin's The American Home: Architecture and Society, 1815-1915 (CH, Apr'80) and Clifford Edward Clark Jr.'s The American Family Home, 1800-1960 (1986). Smeins delves in depth into how pattern book architecture influenced the landscape, be it a single lawn or a town image. She covers the vocal professionals who opposed pattern books for their designs of sham decoration on meanly constructed buildings. Through mass marketing, pattern books helped create and promote a uniform, orderly national identity across the country, and appealed to every reader/subsequent home owner as the source for making their American dream a reality. Extensive notes. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. L. B. Sickels-Taves; Eastern Michigan University