Frances Harper (1825-1911), free-born abolitionist poet and speaker, and Anna Julia Cooper (1859-1964), philosopher and historian born into slavery, both contemporaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also wrote about the home and its place in human progress. Unlike Perkins Gilman, they believed that domesticity was an aid to women's emancipation. Perkins Gilman, a racist, regarded black people as inferior, and therefore did not concern herself with any particular issues that black women might face. Harper and Cooper both argued that black women faced the same problems that white women did, but that as black women, and women who had often been born into slavery, they also faced a number of other issues. Harper, or indeed Cooper, were not merely agreeing with the likes of Catharine Beecher who promoted a difference feminism where women drew strength from the good management of home and children.  For Harper and Cooper, part of the defense of domesticity was aimed at the betterment of the life conditions of the black people of America.
In a letter to a Philadelphia correspondent, Frances Harper wrote the following:
While I am in favor of Universal suffrage, yet I know that the colored man needs something more than a vote in his hand: he needs to know the value of a home life; to rightly appreciate and value the marriage relation; to know how and to be incited to leave behind him the old shards and shells of slavery and to rise in the scale of character, wealth and influence. Like the Nautilus outgrowing his home to build for himself more 'stately temples' of social condition. A man landless, ignorant and poor may use the vote against his interests; but with intelligence and land he holds in his hand the basis of power and elements of strength. (William Still, The Underground Railroad, 1872).
Part of Harper's concern is with men and drinking: as a temperance activist, she fears that the whole human race is at risk of hereditary depravity and that black people, more vulnerable to social ills because of their recent insertion in free American society, are particularly to be protected. A good home, where you can come home to after a day's work, where you can be happy surrounded by a loving family, and where churchgoing and bible reading are common pastimes, is the best remedy against alcoholism.
She also knew from her own experience that it is hard for a black female to maintain a home without a husband. Having lost her own husband to premature death, she found herself kicked out of her home, all her possessions reclaimed. "I did not feel" she recalled in a 1866 talk to a National Woman's Rights convention in New York, "as keenly as others, that I had these rights, in common with other women, which are now demanded."
Notwithstanding the above considerations, the passage cited above may strike one as a little moralizing: why should the home be a priority for someone who has had no freedom of movement, someone who was forced to live and work on the land of a man who had the right to beat them, rape them or sell them? Why should such people, upon becoming free, seek to live in the way of their oppressors, adopting the same notions of respectability, the same structures and the same values?
A slightly more nuanced interpretation is needed here. We saw that in any case Harper's arguments came from a different position than Beecher's and the American cult of domesticity. Her position takes into account the lives of black men and women, their attempts at making a place for themselves in American society, and the backlash they were confronted with from people who'd agreed they should be free, but nonetheless did not want them to live among them as equals and looked for every opportunity to show that they were not. So a non-domesticated, alcohol addicted black man, was not just that, but also an indictment against all black men and women. On the other hand a home meant a way of entering society from a stable position, that is not only a home, a church, but a school district, a job, shops and access to medical care. For that reason it is wrong to read Harper as moralizing even if we can question her actual allegiance to the value of domesticity.
Cooper's vision of domesticity is, perhaps more obviously than Harper's, a feminist one: domesticity empowers women, it enable them to put their particular strengths and virtues to practice for the betterment of humanity.
A stream cannot rise higher than its source. The atmosphere of homes is no rarer and purer than sweeter than are the mothers in those homes. A race is but a total of families. The nation is the aggregate of its homes. As the whole is sum of all its parts so the character of the parts will determine the characteristics of the whole. A Voice from the South, Dover Thrift edition – 11.
The home is essential to the nation. Until black people have homes which are well run by educated women, they will not be in a position to take up their full and rightful place into American society. That women are essential to this process is clear from the fact Cooper says they must be educated: this is in part because their principle task as home-makers is the training of children 'a task on which an infinity of weal and woe depends. Who does not covet it?' - 8.
Cooper is in some sense a perfectionist, who believes that happiness lies in the progress we make towards evolving goals, not in the achievement of perfection. We need to be active in our pursuit of these goals, and indeed in the setting of them in order to flourish. And education, the higher the better is a large part of that process. In order for black Americans to partake and participate in the general flourishing, they need homes where future generations will be shaped. And for that to be successful, she argues, black women must be educated. So domesticity Cooper argues, as it requires educated women, can help emancipate women.
 For Beecher, women derived power specifically from domesticity: '[Woman's] true position in society, as having equal rights with the other sex; and that, in fact, they have secured to American women a lofty and fortunate position, which, as yet, has been attained by the women of no other nation.' 35Treatise on Domestic Economy, Miss Catharine E. Beecher, Boston: T. H. Webb, & Co.1842
 She cites Stael, on p.2: "Happiness consists not in perfections attained, but in a sense of progress, the result of our own endeavor under conspiring circumstances towards a goal which continually advances and broadens and deepens till it is swallowed up in the Infinite". I could not trace the original.
This is where I blog about my new book project (under contract with OUP): a history of the philosophy of the home and domesticity, from the perspective of women philosophers.