Homefires (US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1963)


This film profiles a Homemaker Service that provides assistance to families and individuals in their own homes. The camera follows one homemaker as she cares for the families assigned to her. She is shown as she shops, prepares meals, and does light housework for an elderly couple who would otherwise be unable to live on their own. The homemaker works under the supervision of a public health nurse. When a Puerto Rican mother of six is injured, the homemaker looks after the children and helps with the housework as the mother recuperates. Because the mother is unfamiliar with some American ways and is not well-educated, the homemaker teaches her how to use household equipment, how to budget household money, and how to plan nutritionally balanced meals. As the homemaker helps to care for a third, more affluent family, she becomes aware of the strain they are under because of the mother’s hospitalization for depression and the father’s negative attitude toward the mother. She calls for expert help in this situation. The homemaker is also shown attending an in-service training session. The film emphasizes that the women who staff the Homemaker Service are, for the most part, women who have raised families and taken care of homes of their own.

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