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March 28, 2013
Photo of an ad for the Lustron Home with a headline that reads ‘It meets the health standards that a famous doctor defines.’Photo of an illustration from a refrigerator ad of the 1950s.Detail of a photo from an ad picturing a woman talking on a pink kitchen wall phone.Photo of a vintage Dormeyer Deluxe Blendwell kitchen blender.Photo of a detail of a 1953 ad showing a box of Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes as the package looked at the time.Photo of a sample-size can of Comet Cleanser showing the package as it looked in the 1950s.Photo of a detail of an illustration from an ad of the 1950s depicting bathroom fixtures in colors of the era.Detail of a 1952 holiday-season ad for the Counselor scale, ‘the scale that lights the dial when you step on the platform.’Photo of a page from a catalog of women’s fashions of the 1950s.Photo of a detail of an illustration from a 1952 ad for men’s suits.Photo of furnishings in the living room of a Lustron house.Detail of a photo of a family relaxing in the living room of their Lustron home.
Got Fifties?
We Need Your Help
To Furnish Our 1950s House

At the Ohio History Center in Columbus, a new exhibit is in the works. 1950s: Building the American Dream opens this summer. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a real, full-size prefabricated Lustron house, which is now being assembled inside the museum in preparation for the exhibit opening.


Lustron is one of Ohio’s contributions to the world of architecture. Manufactured in a plant on the far east side of Columbus, the one-story ranch-style homes made of porcelain-enameled steel were shipped all over the nation after World War II, where they were assembled on-site to relieve the post-war housing shortage. Perhaps you know of one near you.


Though innovative in materials and construction, Lustron homes were furnished and decorated with the same types of furnishings and other items you might have found in most any home of the 1950s. 1950s: Building the American Dream will be a hands-on exhibit where visitors will be able to explore the Lustron house as well as its contents.


We Need Your Help

To furnish the 1950s house, we’re looking for all of the kinds of things you might have found in a typical home of the era. Our curators have been at work on this, but still need some more items to furnish the house before the exhibit opens on July 13, 2013.


Can you help? Our curators have compiled the list below. If you have any of the items on the list or other interesting 1950s items that you’d be willing to contribute, contact our history curators at collections@ohiohistory.org or 614.297.2535. (Please contact our curatorial staff before bringing materials to the Ohio History Center.)


Because the exhibit will be hands-on, donations to our education collection (a collection of items that visitors can handle and examine and that do not become a part of the museum’s permanent collection) are preferred, but we’d be happy to discuss donations to our permanent collection or long-term loans for the exhibit, which is expected to be on display for five years. We prefer items that are in good or very good condition.


The List


1950s Appliances

• Refrigerator (White or pastel -- brands such as Frigidaire, G.E., or Westinghouse)

• Blender (examples include Vitamix, Waring, Oster, Sunbeam or Hamilton Beach)


1950s Kitchen Accessories

• Pitcher for mixing frozen juice concentrate

• Metal ice cube trays with lever

• Milk bottles

• Kitchen stepstool/chair

• Shopping list, possibly a chalkboard

• Spice rack

• Canister set (for flour, sugar, coffee, tea, etc…)

• Trash can

• Tupperware containers


1950s Cookware

• Pots and pans: skillet, Dutch oven, griddle, roasting pan, broiler pan

• Teakettle

• Coffeemaker (such as Chemex, Wigomat )

• Casserole dishes (Pyrex, etc…)

• Batter bowls

• Mixing bowls

• Timer

• Cooking spoons and spatulas

• Sifter

• Measuring cups and spoons

• Pastry blender, pastry cloth, rolling pin

• Vegetable peeler

• Ice cream scoop

• Strainer

• Cookie cutters: hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds, holiday shapes


1950s Tableware

• Everyday plates and bowls (preferably melamine)

• Child’s dish set (matching plate, bowl, cup, etc… preferably melamine)

• Glasses: Drinking, juice, wine, martini

• Serving dishes

• Chafing dish

• Cake stand

• Flatware/cutlery

• Teapot, coffeepot, sugar, creamer

• Coasters


1950s Food Packaging

• Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines cake mix

• Jell-O gelatin and pudding

• Minute Rice or Uncle Ben’s Rice

• Crisco

• Velveeta

• Snacks such as Ritz Crackers

• Campbell’s soup: tomato, chicken noodle, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken

• Lipton’s soup mix (Onion)

• Canned foods: Hunts, Libby’s, Green Giant, Del Monte, Spam, Treet

• Condiments and seasonings: Miracle Whip, Heinz Ketchup, French’s Yellow Mustard, Morton Salt, Domino Sugar, Margarine, Log Cabin Syrup, Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese, Durkee French Fried Onions

• Beverages: Minute Maid orange juice concentrate, Kool-Aid drink mix, Coca-ColaMaxwell House coffee, Nescafe instant coffee, V-8Carnation Instant Dry Milk

• Baby food -- jars, cans, boxes (such as Gerber or Beech-nut)

• Cereal including Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Pep Flakes, as well as Post Raisin Bran and Grape Nuts


1950s Cookbooks

• Betty Crocker Cookbook (1950)

• Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (1953)

• Joy of Cooking (1931)

• Recipe box


1950s Cleaning Products

• Bar of soap (example: Ivory)

• Dish detergent (example: Joy)

• Dishwasher detergent

• Laundry detergent

• Starch

• Scrubbers

• Rubber gloves

• Drying rack

• Dish brush

• Dishcloth

• Dishpan


1950s Dining Room

• Napkins

• Sideboard or chest

• Condiment tray

• Candlesticks

• Flower vases

• Set of TV trays


1950s Miscellaneous Household Supplies

• Pens, pencils

• Erasers and other writing supplies

• Stapler

• Scissors

• Account books

• Address book


1950s Master Bedroom:

• Upholstered chair

• Vanity stool

• Reading lamp

• Jewelry box

• Manicure set

• Bowl or some other container for keys and coins

• Alarm clock

• Linens

• Bedspread

• Throw rugs

• Curtains

• Venetian blinds


1950s Fashion

• Women’s jewelry

• Men’s jewelry

• Women’s lingerie

• Men’s underwear and socks

• Women’s hats, purses and gloves

• Baby clothes, layette items

• Men’s and women’s shoes

• Sport clothes for all

• Bowling shoes, bowling bags


1950s Seasonal Items

• Easter basket

• American flag (48 star)

• BBQ grill and tools

• Trick-or-Treat paper bags

• Color wheel for aluminum Christmas tree

• Shiny Brite glass ball Christmas decorations

• Tabletop Santa in sleigh with reindeer

• Christmas wrapping paper

• Felt Christmas stockings

• Plastic reindeer

• Christmas cards

• Christmas tree skirt

• Electric plastic Christmas candles with screw-in bulbs

• Plastic illuminated (electric) church

• Christmas record albums

• Child’s sled


1950s Living Room

• Coffee table and end tables

• Armchair

• Tobacco pipe and pipe rack

• Tabletop lighter

• Playing cards, checkers, board games (examples include Scrabble, Monopoly, Sorry, Parcheesi)

• Books (examples of popular authors include: Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, J.D. Salinger, Mickey Spillane, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Ayn Rand)

• Paintings/wall hangings


1950s Bathroom

• Period medications/medicinal products (or appropriate packaging)

• Make-up products

• Cold cream

• Hair products (Brylcreem, Clairol, Aqua Net hairspray, rollers, etc…)

• Deodorant (such as Ban, Mum, Arrid)

• Johnson and Johnson Band-Aids

• Sanitary products (Tampax, Fems, Kotex, Modess) or a sanitary belt

• Shaving kit (brush, razor, blades, shaving cream [Barbasol])

• Toothbrushes/toothpaste (Gleem/Ipana/Colgate)

• Shampoo/soap (Breck, Dreen, Lustre-Creme, Prell, Lux, Palmolive, Lifebuoy)

• Shower curtain

• Bath mat

• Toilet cover

• Scale

• Toilet brush/plunger

• Civil Defense kit