“My Room! Private! Keep Out! This Means You!”: A Brief Overview of the Emergence of the Autonomous Teen Bedroom in Post–World War II America
- The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 5, Number 3, Fall 2012
- pp. 419-443
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This article offers a brief explanation as to why the autonomous teen bedroom became a normative feature of family life in the United States during the years following World War Two. An exclusive space that was largely restricted to middle-class, urban-dwelling girls during the Victorian era and interwar years, the teen bedroom underwent a process of democratization during the postwar years, as demographic/economic trends, shifting views on child-rearing, and the flowering of a consumer-oriented teen culture helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of the teen bedroom ideal among boys and girls from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Particular attention is paid to shifts in family size, income, and home size; the roles played by American youth and various business interests in turning the teen bedroom into a favored site of leisure and consumption; and the growing importance of child development theory and popular child-rearing advice in positioning the teen bedroom as an important tool in the maturation process.