Rob Roy Kelly research
Kitchenware Collection 1865–1930




Kitchen Tools


The Collection is a representative, but not yet comprehensive, body of household and kitchen utensils or implements from the period between 1870 and 1930. This sixty years represent the peak of tinplate for the making of kitchenware, but it also covers those years when there were significant shifts in the American way of life with corresponding changes in diet and kitchen utensils or tools.

Change was rarely immediate or all-encompassing. There was always a transition from one stage to another with an overlap between old and new occurring over a period of years. Change generally affected urban populations before it reached rural or frontier areas. The wealthy were more prone to try new ideas before middle class or poor. Geography was also a factor as new technology, products or styles originated on the East coast or coming from Europe were assimilated before filtering inland.



During this period, a housewife in Baltimore could be expected to have a quite different array of kitchenware than a housewife in Nebraska, Colorado or the Territories. Usually, the more isolated the area, the more basic the selection of pots and pans. Rural families had different kitchen requirements than factory workers living in cities, and there were numerous other conditions dictating kitchen design and utensils.

Research includes a maunscript on tinplate household and kitchenwares from 1870–1930, approximately 1,600 items and a catalog of the items arranged in the following categories: utensils, pans, containers, household and miscellaneous. Research text includes: fabrication & materials, design, historical context, food preservation, timelines, glossaries and bibliography.

The collection has been donated to the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Tempe, Arizona.