RECORDS (1913-1991)

2.7 linear feet




The records (donor no. 168 ) were transferred from the University of Iowa Archives in 1999.


The records»recordsr are open for research.


»Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa, except for published materials contained therein. 


In Box 7.


Bridgett Williams-Searle, 1999Your name, year [filename]». Revisions by Heather Stecklein, 2002 [UIHomeEconomicsDept.doc]






From 1913 to 1991, the University of Iowa’s Home Economics Department trained thousands of women (and a few men) for careers as artists, counselors, dieticians, extension agents, fashion designers, homemakers, interior designers, mothers, nutritionists, preservationists, professors, secondary-school teachers, and weavers. Home Economics was a “historically female” department not only in the students who enrolled but also in another sense: it was chaired exclusively by women and women constituted over 95% of its faculty over the life of the department. Thus, the University of Iowa’s Home Economics Department played a pivotal role in the history of women’s education at the University of Iowa.

Ruth Aimee Wardall, the first woman to hold a Master of Arts in Foods from the University of Illinois, served as the first chair of Home Economics (1913-1922). Along with numerous instructors, Wardall offered comprehensive and challenging coursework that attracted students in substantial numbers. Eighty-one of the five hundred or so women on campus completed the 1913 course in Textiles; sophomore women specialized in the preparation and preservation of foods. In two years, the program doubled its enrollment, necessitating the hiring of more instructors for the introductory courses.

Under Wardall’s leadership, the Department had an impact beyond the campus as well. During World War I, the Home Economics Department added a special foods training course for nurses. Junior and senior women helped to train Red Cross volunteers and made “cootie suits” to keep the Iowa soldiers lice-free. Students also nursed and fed the ill during the influenza epidemic in 1918. The creation of the Child Welfare Research station and the addition of specialists in pediatric development and nutrition rapidly increased the range of the department's offerings. When Wardall left the University in 1922, the department was well established as an interdisciplinary and rigorous academic program.

Wardall’s successor, Helen Pope, presided over a thriving department. Summer School was especially popular; these accelerated courses provided training for rural secondary school teachers who were required by law to teach Home Economics. Established home economists from across the state could update their skills or form professional networks while mingling with beginning students. Although Pope only served two years as Chair, the department offered Summer Session coursework until its termination. Frequent changes among the junior faculty, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of continuity in administration began to affect student morale. These problems would have to be faced squarely by the next administrator.

Frances Zuill, who served as department chair from 1923-1939, stressed the dual goals of community service and academic excellence. At her urging, the Department began to offer graduate work. She also encouraged faculty members to pursue the doctorate, an unusual attainment among home economics educators at the time. Zuill was responsible for instituting the Alumnae newsletter and the campus-wide Christmas dinner, two of the activities that characterized the Home Economics Department in the minds of graduates of the era. The Zuill administration was a golden time for the Home Economics Department. Zuill herself was president of the American Home Economics Association. Another faculty member, Mate Giddings, was national president of Omicron Nu (home economics honorary society). Superior educators like Edna Hill, Alice Brigham, Ione Hosman, Merle Ford, and Lula Smith joined the faculty during Zuill’s tenure as chair. Additionally, the department moved to more spacious renovated quarters in McBride Hall. When Zuill departed to chair the Home Economics department at the University of Wisconsin, Mate Giddings served as interim chair the following year (1939-1940).

Under Dr. Sybil Woodruff, head of the department from 1940 to 1955, the Home Economics Department developed a national reputation for its work in the fields of dietetics and nutrition. Students worked closely with Dr. Kate Daum (Director of Nutrition at the University Hospitals until 1955), Dr. W. A. Tuttle, and Dr. Genevieve Stearns. The Iowa Breakfast Studies, joint research conducted by the University Hospital’s Nutrition department and the Home Economics department, conclusively established the health benefits of eating a well-balanced breakfast.  Wartime shortages led to rationing of fabrics and foods and presented new challenges in pedagogy. Moreover, the skills of home economists were more in demand than ever, and the department struggled to offer enough classes to keep up with rising enrollments. The interdisciplinary nature of Home Economics made its courses required work for those studying to be dental hygienists, elementary educators, artists, advertisers, and social workers. Student demand drove the expansion of the department and soon, more floor space and more faculty were required.

Dr. Floy Eugenia Whitehead, department chair from 1955 to 1971, presided over Home Economics during a time of great change in American society. The department continued to stress "dual career" training for women, acknowledging that most women would marry and raise children as well as pursue employment outside the home. Whitehead's academic excellence in the field of nutrition set the tone for the department; she encouraged all faculty members to explore professional development opportunities. Yet, research had to be subordinate to quality teaching; the department firmly believed that hands-on learning, rather than “indoctrination,” better served the civic mission of their discipline and the nation. Classes continued to grow throughout the 1960s and graduate study (particularly in the areas of nutrition and textiles) substantially increased.

Dr. Sara Wolfson presided over the Home Economics department from 1972-1989. Under her tenure, the department’s faculty received accreditation from the American Home Economics Association and was rated as one of the top ten departments in the nation. A major renovation of department facilities was completed in 1985. There were signs, however, that Liberal Arts administrators did not support the department as enthusiastically as these accomplishments seemed to merit. Professors continued to share office space, the only faculty members in the Liberal Arts required to do so. When professors retired, the money to hire replacements was slow in coming. The size of the teaching staff diminished; qualified faculty were hard to find due to a national shortage of Home Economics graduates with advanced degrees. Those with the desired skills could find higher salaries elsewhere. Remaining professors had to bear a heavier load of teaching and advising, with some diminution of their research activities. The department began to rely more heavily on teaching assistants and temporary or adjunct personnel to teach classes. As the university positioned itself to become a premier research institution, those Home Economics faculty members whose strengths lay in the quality of their teaching and mentorship abilities perceived themselves to be undervalued in a system that increasingly assessed scholarly worth by examining one’s publication record. Those faculty members appointed to the textile and design branches of the department also noted that their exhibition work, while professional in nature, was not considered tenure-worthy under the guidelines set forth by the College of Liberal Arts. The department, already stretched to the limit in its efforts to maintain a full menu of courses for its numerous majors, was informed in 1987 that it should plan to add high-enrollment General Education Requirement courses as well. By 1988, morale in the Home Economics department was flagging.

Dr. Carolyn Lara-Braud took over as the chair of the department during its valiant, but ultimately fruitless, battle against termination. Administrators reacted to the deep economic distress produced by the 1980s farm crisis by eliminating all perceived duplications at Iowa’s regents institutions. "Historically female" programs, such as Home Economics and Dental Hygiene, had been marginalized in the years prior to external review through funding decisions, staffing priorities, and resource allocation made by University administrators. Moreover, national trends within the discipline had moved toward reorienting the field toward family and consumer science; Iowa’s department remained committed to an older humanistic vision of home economics education that some administrators perceived as old-fashioned. During the drive to eliminate duplication, the Home Economics department was perceived as a "logical" candidate for liquidation and deemed "no longer relevant to the mission of the liberal arts." Despite outcries about gender discrimination and even unconstitutionality, the Home Economics department offered its last class in 1991. (See Termination of Department series for quoted material.)

Scope and Content Note

The University of Iowa Home Economics Department records date from 1913 to 1991 and measure 2.7 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: administrative records, activities, courses, facilities, and faculty.

The Administrative Records series (1913-1989) includes the bulk of the collection and details the activities of the University of Iowa Home Economics department from a managerial standpoint. The series contains materials regarding department publicity, faculty selection, enrollment data, assistantships, and career data issued to students. In addition, the series contains various subseries.

The Alumnae newsletters and bulletins subseries (1928-1988) contains multi-page reports on departmental affairs and alumnae news. It is organized according to departmental chair.

The American Home Economics Association accreditation subseries (1982-1989) chronicles the department's bid for accreditation by the national organization for home economics professionals and its subsequent consent to withdrawal of accreditation when circumstances surrounding the termination process made sustaining its credentials impossible.

The Biennium Request subseries (1961-1971) contains the department’s formal reports of activities to the University every two years. In addition to reporting activities, these requests detailed plans for further development and the resulting financial needs.

      The Catalogs and university publications subseries (1914-1969, scattered) contains catalogs promoting the department's course offerings. Summer school catalogs are also included. A 1913 university bulletin highlighting educational opportunities for women at the State University of Iowa offers an illustrated guide to campus life.

The Departmental expense accounts subseries (1913-1922) contains records of materials and expenses incurred by the Home Economics department in its first decade of existence, including supplemental payroll information.

The Publicity subseries (1940-1984) consists of published materials released by the department for promotion. It includes departmental newsletters, press releases, brochures, and newspaper clippings.

The Student Research subseries (1974, 1984) contains one thesis by Rosemary Wilmoth on the subject of perceptions of women’s managerial skills (1984) and one directed study by Suzanne Dziurawiec Haines on the subject of infant nutrition in Iowa City (1974).

      The Departmental self-studies subseries (1975, 1986) offers the department’s in-depth review of its activities in 1975 and 1986.

The Termination of department subseries (1987-1989) includes materials relating to the internal and external review of the Home Economics department from 1987-1989. Of particular interest are copies of internal and external review reports, exchanges between departmental faculty and Dean Gerhard Loewenberg concerning the conduct of an external referee during his campus visit, and a vigorous faculty rebuttal of the findings of the external review report.

The Thesis subseries (1932-1968) contains lists of thesis titles in the field of home economics from both the University of Iowa and the United States Department of Agriculture.


The Activities series (1942-1970) provides information on the various activities in which the faculty and students in the department participated. The series includes materials from old Days, the department’s bean supper, departmental workshops, exhibits, field trips, and student meetings. The department’s fiftieth anniversary is well represented in the series. The fiftieth anniversary folder in the series contains publications from the celebration and the transcript of the humorous play “Fifty liberal years” that was staged in honor of the anniversary.

      The series contains a Conference proceedings subseries (1942, 1964, 1965) which consists of the published materials that accompanied conferences hosted by the University of Iowa Home Economics department on the topics of nutrition, textiles, and social gerontology.

      The Courses series (1963-1972) contains course materials from a team taught research methods class in 1964-1965. In addition, the series includes the department’s lists of course schedules from 1963 until 1972.     


        The Facilities series (1945-1970) includes the department’s information on equipment fabric collections, slide collections, TV films, and office space needs. In addition, it provides information on the remodeling of Macbride hall that took place in 1981.                                    

      The Faculty series (1933-1984) gives researchers information on some of the faculty members that served the department during its existence. The series is divided by faculty member and contains research publications and manuscripts produced by department faculty along with a few biographies, photographs, and press releases.

Chairs of the University of Iowa Department of Home Economics:

Ruth Aimee Wardall                     1913-1922

Helen Pope                                    1922-1923

Dr. Frances Zuill                           1923-1939

Mate Giddings                                    1939-1940

Dr. Sybil Woodruff                      1940-1955

Dr. Eugenia Whitehead                1955-1971

Dr. Sara Wolfson                          1972-1988

Dr. Carolyn Lara-Braud                1989-1991       Begin text here:»


Related Collections

Margaret Keyes papers

Floy Eugenia Whitehead papers

Harriet Stevens papersBegin text here:»



Box no.   Description


Box 1     Administrative records

Advisees and Advisors, 1959-1960

                                        Alumni Information, 1957

                              Alumnae Newsletters

       Zuill, 1928, 1930-1934

Woodruff, 1940-1949,1952,1954
Whitehead, 1956-1961

Wolfson, 1977, 1980-1981, 1984

Lara-Braud, 1988

                                    Other universities, 1956-1958

      American Home Economic Association Accreditation

Interim report, 1988

            Notification of Accreditation, 1983

            Self-Evaluation, 1982 (2 folders)

            Site visit report, 1983

            University of Iowa’s response to site visit report, 1983

            Voluntary consent to withdraw accreditation, 1989

                              Application for research grant, 1969

                              Assistantships, teaching and research, 1967-1968

                              Biennium request



Brochures, 1956, 1958, 1967

Budget, 1957-1959

 Box 2               

                     Careers in home economics clippings, 1952-1954

                                        Course report form, 1964


Promotional, 1956-1958, 1961,1969

                        Summer school, 1928-1941,1950,1961

                                    “Summer session nutrition and health classes for children”, 1921    

   “Women in the University of Iowa”, 1913

                              Departmental statistics, 1932-1972

                              Emergency procedures, undated

                              Enrollment data, 1932-1970

                              Executive committee, 1970-1971

                              Expense accounts


   Equipment vouchers, 1915-1916

   Equipment and miscellaneous expenditures, summer 1922   

   Requisitions and bills, 1921-1922

                              Future staff, 1966-1967

                              Gerontology, 1962-1963

                              Grant sources, 1965

                              Home economics positions, 1968-1969

                              Honors program, 1959-1962

                              Myrna Lee Sprengler award committee, 1963-1966

                              Occupational therapy, 1959-1962


Box 3                      

Personnel Committee, 1959-1961

Ph.D. questions, 1972

Positions for students, 1964

Program review, 1956-1963





   “Home Economics: family life education” brochure, 1965

Related art philosophy, 1958-1964

Research projects, 1955-1967

Schools of design, 1965-1966

Self Study



Staff positions, 1966-1967    

Student research

Wilmoth, Rosemary, “Perception of women executives’ managerial skills by men executives and men MBA students,” 1984

 Haines, Susan Dziuraweic,“The state of infant nutrition, with particular reference to current feeding practices in the Iowa City area,” 1974

Termination of the department

   Report of the Review Committee For the Department of Home Economics, 1987

   Response of faculty to review committee report, 1987

   Report to Peat Marwick Main & Co. from the University of Iowa, March 1989

Analysis of home economics programs at ISU, SUI, and UNI, April 1989

Memo from the UI home economics department to Peat Marwick Main & Co., May 1989

   Program duplication [excerpt from Peat Marwick report], 1989

Response by Department of Home Economics to Peat Marwick Main and Co. Report, September 1989


State University of Iowa, 1932-1964


Box 4

                                                        Thesis titles, related art, 1942-1965

                                          United States Department of Agriculture home economics

thesis titles, 1959-1968


                              American Textiles Exhibit, 1963

                              Baked bean supper, 1964

                              Conference proceedings

                                    Nutrition conference, 1942

                                    Social gerontology, 1965

                                    Workshop on economic aspects of textiles and clothing, 1964

                              Display committee, 1962-1963

                              Field trips, 1959-1969

                              Fiftieth anniversary, 1963

                              Graduate committee, 1958-1970

                              Graduate day, Iowa State University, no date

                              Majors meeting, 1963-1969

                              Nutritional education, 1953-1958

                              Old Gold Days, 1958


Box 5

                                        Senior breakfast, 1953-1954

                              Speech at VEISHA, Iowa State University, 1967

                              Travel fund, 1961-1968

                              Workshops and field courses, 1959-1964

                              Workshop ideas, 1965-1966



                              17:101 Research methods with Potter and Kirkwood, 1964-1965


1963/1964-1996/1970 school years

                                    1971/1972 school year (2 folders)



                              Equipment information, 1968

                              Fabric and miscellaneous collections, 1938-1964

                                        Home management house committee, undated

                              Housing research, 1966

                              Macbride hall remodeling correspondence, 1981

                              Office space needs, 1962

                              Related art and housing area, 1966-1970

                              Slide collection information, 1945-1970

                              TV films, undated



                        Research and activities, 1979-1983


Box 6

                        Publications, 1980-1984

                        Amy Daniels biographical materials, 1962-1965

            Adeline M. Hoffman and Iva M. Bader, Social Science Aspects of

Clothing for Older Women, 1964

                        Smith, Lula

                              Biography, “Thirty Years at SUI”, 1959

                              Contemporary Handweaving

                                    Manuscript, undated (2 folders)

                                    Proofs, undated (2 folders)

                              Creative Textile Design: A manual to use with eight films, 1956

                        Stearns, Genevieve, press releases and annotated bibliography, 1964-1965

                        Stevens, Harriet, Dietary intake of five groups of subjects, May 1963


Box 7

                        Whitehead, Floy Eugenia

                              Blueprint for faculty in the department of home economics, University

of Iowa, 1962

                              The challenge of home economics in today’s university, undated

                              Early concepts of home economics in higher education, undated

                              The home economist’s role in an urbanizing world, undated

                              Photographs circa 1965

                              Nutrition education research project report, 1970