Towards a history of Home Economics

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In this blog, I write about historic housekeeping techniques updated for the modern age. However it’s most emphatically not a history research paper, so the original versions are subsumed within my text, and it’s hard to know where the real roots are. Therefore this post is the first of a series that will help you find out more about the history of how Home Economics (also sometimes called Home Management or Domestic Economy) came to pass, and where I have been getting my inspiration from over the years. You might be interested to know that it’s currently a research field in its own right, and if any active researchers are logging on, I’d really be intrigued to see comments about what you are working on at the moment, and what you think about the blog.

For those of us in the UK educated before the introduction of the National Curriculum in the early 1990s, we probably think of Home Economics as involving the production of desultory soggy biscuits and bizarre items of knitwear while our male compatriots were off making mug trees. However what is often forgotten is that there has been a long history of women engaging in the subject at university, particularly in the US. Indeed, Home Economics courses offered such women a foot in the door of many hallowed institutions of higher learning, where previously they might have been unwelcome. In this way, Home Economics paved the way for more academic engagement with learning today for women. This website tells you how this happened at Cornell University, and gives a rich account of the history.

http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/h/hearth/about.html

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