ECHO underway, posted Monday, November 29, 2010
This post is reprinted, with images, here.
Created to train men in the skills of farming at a time when agriculture and rural life were feared to be in decline, the Storrs Agricultural College (the precursor to University of Connecticut) also trained women in what was first called domestic science and later home economics.
Women were first admitted to the Storrs Agricultural College in 1893, when Domestic Science was added to the curriculum. In 1899 the institution was renamed the Connecticut Agricultural College. Its 1906-07 Bulletin offers much food for thought about just what higher education was and meant at the turn of the twentieth century. For example, “Course No. 7” in Home Economics required courses in English, German, History, Algebra, Geometry, Elocution, and Economics—all part of a liberal arts curriculum. But women students were also required to take courses related to farming: Poultry, Practical Poultry, and Ornithology; Botany, Horticulture, and Forestry; Meteorology. And then there were the domestic science courses: Bookkeeping, Sewing and Dressmaking, the wonderfully titled Chemistry of Cleaning, Bacteriology, and, of course, Cooking. A “Miss Thomas” taught this course:
By the 1920s, the national home economics movement had adopted a more scientific approach to the field, supported by legislation such as the Smith-Lever Act (1914) and state aid to teach home economics, to study food, vitamins, and diet, and to survey and examine health and hygiene among the rural and urban poor. Though many Americans would consider home economics old fashioned, historians agree that the home economics movement provided the means through which women entered higher education.