Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

College of Home Economics and Education Records, 1913-2000

Historical Note:

First established in 1889 as the Department of Household Economy and Hygiene, the College of Home Economics at OSU was the fifth such college program to be instituted in the U.S. and the first west of the Rocky Mountains. Margaret Comstock Snell served as the College's first Professor and Dean, a post she held until 1908. Having received a M.D., Snell's emphasis in her instruction and research was the importance of preventative health. Until 1895, when Mary Avery was hired as an assistant in sewing classes, Snell was the sole instructor and staff member of the department.

Initially only open to female students, the Department of Household Economy was one of four major areas of study (along with Agriculture, Mechanics and Pharmacy) offered by the College to students until about 1910. Within two years of the establishment of the department, options for a three-year and four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Household Economy and Letters degree were available to students. By 1897, these options were consolidated into a four-year program for a Bachelor of Science degree and as well as an option for Masters' in Household Science degree. For the undergraduate degree in Home Economics, the department developed a three tiered curricula, known after 1933 as Curricula A, B, and C. This system differentiated between students training for a professional career (teaching or social work) and those intending to apply their education at home.

In the first years of the department, a basic core curriculum of subjects were offered without specialization. These courses included: sewing, cooking, gardening, care of the sick, hygiene, social etiquette, and dressmaking. In 1908, two departments were formed in what was then renamed the School of Domestic Science and Art. The formation of these two departments, Domestic Science and Art, signaled an increasing specialization of the school with classes described in the catalog in the following groupings by 1919: Household Science, Household Art, Household Administration, Institutional Management, Applied Design, and the Industrial Education Group. As the school expanded in scope and size, these two departments underwent several name changes and divisions from which new departments were created (see list below). Meanwhile, a training program in gerontology was formed in 1972 as OSU became a member of the Oregon Center Gerontology Consortium. In 1983, the school was renamed to the College of Home Economics. In 1989, the College re-organized into three departments which reflect it's current form: Apparel, Interiors, Housing and Merchandising; Nutrition and Food Management; and Human Development Family and Sciences.

Another important aspect of the college has been Home Economics Education, which was administered in the School of Education from 1918 until 1994, when the School of Education merged with the College of Home Economics to form the College of Home Economics and Education. Home Economics Extension and Experiment Station Research are major functions of the College of Home Economics.

Originally housed on the third floor of Benton Hall, the department moved from Kidder Hall, then to Waldo Hall, and finally to Agriculture Hall before moving to its present location in the Home Economics Building in 1914. In addition to the Home Economics Building, the college managed several nursery schools and "practice houses" for courses in childcare and home management. The first practice house, Withycombe House, was established in 1917.

Deans of the College

1889-1908 Margaret Comstock Snell
1908-1911 Juliet Greer
1912-1915 Henrietta Calvin
1915-1917 Committee composed of Mary Eliza Fawcett, Ava Milam Clark, and Hellen B. Brooks
1917-1950 Ava Milam Clark
1950-1954 Vera Brandon
1954-1964 Miriam Scholl
1965-1984 Betty Hawthorne
1984-2001 Kinsey Green

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