Since many of us have been spending more time in our kitchens cooking lately, we thought this would be a good time to highlight the film A Step Saving Kitchen (16-P-1783). It comes from the Records of the Department of Agriculture, in the series “Public Information and Training Motion Picture and Television Productions, 1990 – 1995”, which consists of films produced or acquired to document agriculture, forestry, and home economics.
A Step Saving Kitchen was filmed in 1949 by the Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics. It was created in response to many housewives writing to the Bureau looking for tips on how to cut down the time spent doing kitchen work and how to make things more convenient for them in the kitchen.
The film discusses the rigorous testing that Bureau staff conducted to make sure that all of their ideas were successful and useful. They created small scale models as well as full sized working kitchens. They based their ideas off of existing design principles and that of having good working heights, and lots of light, storage and work space.
They made good use of all of the spaces available by creating revolving corner cabinets to maximize space as well as easily accessible counter top bins for food storage.
The film concludes by telling viewers that they can obtain the plans for these kitchens from their state agricultural college or regional plan exchange service.
If you are interested in learning more about historical cooking and kitchens, the National Archives had an exhibit titled “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” (https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/whats-cooking/index.html), textual records at the National Archives at Kansas City (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/505) and photographs at the National Archives at College Park:
Additionally, the USDA has a great blog post on the Step Saving Kitchen that can be found here (https://nalgc.nal.usda.gov/step-saving-kitchens).