Prior to a reorganization in the United States National Museum in 1957 which established the Museum of History and Technology (MHT), the domestic life collections were the curatorial responsibility of the Division of Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology. With this reorganization, the Department of Civil History was created, and its Division of Cultural History assumed responsibility for these collections. In 1969 MHT was renamed the National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT), and the newly formed Department of Cultural History's Divisions of Costume and Furnishings and Preindustrial Cultural History divided responsibility for the domestic life artifacts. A departmental reorganization occurred in 1977 which removed the domestic life objects from the furnishings section of Costume and Furnishings and from Preindustrial Cultural History and centralized them in the Division of Domestic Life.
From circa 1958 to 1965 and 1967 to 1969 the Growth of the United States (GOUS) was an exhibit that drew objects from various MHT divisions. Administratively during these years, GOUS was a unit and then a division of the Department of Civil History. The staff of GOUS eventually became part of Preindustrial Cultural History.
For almost thirty years, C. Malcolm Watkins was curator of the domestic life collections. In 1948 he was appointed Associate Curator of Ethnology and subsequently held the positions of Curator of Cultural History, 1957-1969; Curator of Preindustrial Cultural History, 1969-1973; and Senior Curator in the Department of Cultural History, 1973- . Other curators have included G. Carroll Lindsay, Assistant Curator of Ethnology, 1956-1957, and Associate Curator of Cultural History, 1958; Rodris C. Roth, Assistant Curator of Ethnology, 1957, Assistant Curator, 1958-1959, and Associate Curator, 1960-1969, of Cultural History, Associate Curator, 1969-1971, and Curator, 1972-1977, of Costume and Furnishings, and Curator of Domestic Life, 1977- ; John N. Pearce, Assistant Curator, 1960-1963, and Associate Curator, 1964, of Cultural History; Peter C. Welsh, Associate Curator, 1961-1962, and Curator, 1963-1968, of Growth of the United States; Anne C. Golovin, Assistant Curator of Growth of the United States, 1963-1968, Associate Curator of Preindustrial Cultural History, 1969-1977, and Associate Curator of Domestic Life, 1977- ; and Richard E. Ahlborn, Associate Curator of Cultural History, 1967-1968.