The Hoosier Cabinet in Kitchen History

The Hoosier Cabinet in Kitchen History

Nancy R. Hiller
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/07/2009
Format: Hardback 10 b&w photos, 40 color photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-31424-6
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Loaded with labor and time-saving conveniences, the Hoosier cabinet was among the earliest design innovations of the modern American kitchen. This culinary workstation allowed owners to maintain an efficient and clutter-free kitchen by centralizing utensils, cookware, tools, and ingredients all the while providing a space in which to prepare the meals of the day. Bloomington-based cabinetmaker Nancy R. Hiller draws on her years of specialty cabinet making and thorough knowledge of interior design to deliver an entertaining, beautiful, and informative history of the Hoosier cabinet—revealing its influence on the development of the contemporary American home. Illustrated with original manufacturers' advertisements and sales literature—some of which is previously unpublished—as well as color and black-and-white photos, this long-overdue book on an icon of the early 20th-century kitchen will be an invaluable resource to cabinetmakers, antiques enthusiasts, and homeowners planning a period-inspired kitchen.

Author Bio

Nancy R. Hiller is a cabinetmaker who has published in numerous period design and woodworking magazines, including American Bungalow, Old House Interiors, and Fine Woodworking. Since 1995, Hiller has operated and been principal designer at NR Hiller Design, Inc. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.


“In a very real sense, the Hoosier cabinet was a key element in the transformation of the American kitchen from the little-seen, out-of-the-way domain of servants to the focus of all family activity. This book should appeal to the American imagination.”
 — Mary Ellen Polson, senior editor of Old House Interiors magazine

“Cabinetmaker Nancy R. Hiller draws on her years of specialty cabinet-making to deliver an entertaining, beautiful and informative history of the Hoosier cabinet—revealing its influence on the development of the contemporary American home. July/August 2009”
 — Home & Away

“Hiller's authoritative narrative will provide welcome background and detail for historians—amatuer and professional—but the illustrations—old and new—are just as likely to appeal to a contemporary generation of cabinetmakers, drawn to the functional beauty of this antique concept. December 01, 2009”
 — Bloomsbury Review

“Nancy Hiller has produced a book that is as much a small gem of American social and cultural history as it is the history of a product or (less so) of a company.Summer 2009, Number 62”
 — John Luke, American Bungalow

“Old house owners and restorers, interior designers, architects, contractors, historic preservationists, kitchen designers, and antique collectors would love a book like this.”
 — Jane Powell, author of Bungalow Kitchens

“. . . a fascinating read about the social structure of the early kitchen and its women. . . . Very recommended.”
 — Jerry Sampson, Antiques Reference Books Reviews

“Pick it up, start reading and you won't want to put it down. Crazy as it sounds, a story about kitchens is full of wonderment, excitement, and down-home wisdom. The history part is equally engrossing . . .”
 — Nuvo

“A Bloomington-based cabinet maker draws on her years of specialty cabinet making and interior design, delivering an entertaining, beautiful, and often humorous history of the Hoosier cabinet in this abundantly illustrated, long-overdue book on an icon of the early 20th-century kitchen.”

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Table of Contents



1. Kitchens in Context
Indiana's settlement and early economy. Victorian kitchens. Urbanization.

2. Social and Material Influences on the Hoosier Cabinet's Development
Women and the kitchen. The servant problem. Why Indiana? Wooton's Patent Cabinet Secretary. Ideas from Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Christine Frederick.

3. The Hoosier Becomes the Standard
Founding of the Hoosier Manufacturing Company. Product development and efficiencies in production. Advertising, marketing, dealerships, and other secrets of the Hoosier cabinet's rise to kitchen prominence.

4. Eclipse
Progress brings new products. The 1890<N>1930 building boom. Architectural millwork catalogs. The rise of modular cabinetry and the built-in kitchen.

5. Legacy
Back to basics: the family kitchen. Freestanding kitchen furniture renaissance. Collectors, restorers, and reproductions. Using Hoosier-era documents for design inspiration and guidance. Conclusion: Saving Steps.


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