Bertha Davis

Bertha Stewart Davis was born on February 3, 1872 in the Plymouth community, near Corvallis, Oregon. Her parents were Caleb and Eliza Davis. She attended Corvallis College, now Oregon State University, when it was still jointly administered by the state of Oregon and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, taking classes in both its primary and secondary divisions. She earned her BS degree in domestic science and arts in 1889 and, in 1909, became the first Oregon Agricultural College student to earn an MS in domestic science, completing a thesis titled “Bacterial Problems in the Home.” 

From there, Davis earned an additional master’s degree in home economics education from Columbia University, and organized the first home economics program at Corvallis High School. She was a member of the OAC domestic science faculty from 1914-1922, during which time she opened the Withycombe practice house, organized teacher trainings in home economics, and served as Oregon’s first state supervisor of home economics.

She left Oregon to teach home economics and manage the tea room at Mills College in Oakland, California. From 1928-1942 she was director of the student union at Occidental College in Los Angeles; she returned to Corvallis upon her retirement. Davis never married and passed away in 1961.