Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa



PAPERS, 1935-1998
3 linear feet


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Please cite materials from this collection as follows:
Floy Eugenia Whitehead Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 38) were donated by Eugenia Whitehead to the University of Iowa Special Collections Department in 1980 and transferred to the Iowa Women’s Archives in 1999; and by Margaret Keyes (donor no. 39) in 1999 and subsequent years.
The papers are open for research
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.
In Boxes 7, 8 a,d 9.
Processed by:
Bridgett Williams-Searle, 1999; Heather Stecklein, 2002; Kate Stewart, 2007. [WhiteheadEugenia.doc]


Floy Eugenia Whitehead, leader in the field of nutrition research, dietetics, and education, had a rich and varied career. Born in Athens, Georgia on February 10, 1913, she was one of eight children of James Fred Whitehead and Floy Eugenia Landrum Whitehead. She graduated from the Athens public school system and enrolled at the University of Georgia in 1930. After a two-year hiatus while she worked to contribute to her family’s income during the Great Depression, she returned to school in the fall of 1933. A friend suggested that she pursue a B.S. in Home Economics. The study of nutrition – particularly nutrition education – quickly became Whitehead’s passion. She graduated with a B.S. in 1936; she subsequently received her M.S. from the University of Georgia in 1942.

As a high school teacher in Moultrie, Georgia, Whitehead learned firsthand about the practical difficulties involved in changing adolescents’ dietary habits. Later, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as Assistant Professor of Home Economics at West Georgia College and Associate Educational Director of the Georgia Department of Health, she developed a holistic, community-centered approach to nutrition education. She specialized in the improvement of school lunch programs and provided field instruction for elementary and secondary educators.

In the fall of 1942, Whitehead won the prestigious General Education Board Fellowship and embarked upon her doctoral studies in nutrition at the University of Chicago. Here she worked under the direction of another pioneer in nutrition education, Dr. Lydia J. Roberts. In 1944, Whitehead seized the opportunity to design and execute a field study of nutrition education techniques and their effectiveness in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. The resulting work, spanning 1944-1948, was the first longitudinal study of a community-centered nutrition education program in the United States. Whitehead’s innovative approach to nutrition education stressed respect for a community’s economic means and food ways, whole-curriculum (rather than subject-centered) teaching applications, and ongoing community involvement in the work of public education. This study, undertaken while Whitehead was an Associate Professor of Home Economics at Louisiana State University and Associate Home Economist for that state’s Agricultural Experiment Station, became a landmark in nutrition education research. On completion of data collection, she spent the 1948-1949 school year as an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University. She then enrolled in the School of Public Health at Harvard. Her 1951 doctoral dissertation, “Studies in Nutrition Education,” summarized the Ascension Parish project and assessed the long-lasting benefits produced by her methods. A number of distinguished publications resulted from her doctoral work.

Before coming to the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1955 to chair the Department of Home Economics, Whitehead served as visiting lecturer at Harvard’s School of Public Health during the 1951-1952 school year. She moved to Chicago in 1952, where she took the post of director of nutrition education at the Wheat Flour Institute. From 1953 to 1955, she worked as director of nutrition education for the National Dairy Council. During these years, she also designed and executed another award-winning longitudinal research study in the public school system of Kansas City, Missouri. Again, numerous publications document her professional accomplishments during this busy time.

Whitehead presided over the University of Iowa’s Home Economics Department for sixteen years, leading it through times of turbulent social change. She insisted that Home Economics belonged at the center of a humanistic vision of the Liberal Arts and directed a five-year departmental self-study to demonstrate the validity of her claim. Moreover, she encouraged women to consider the many professional opportunities open to Home Economics graduates, citing her own satisfaction with a life spent in academic service. The burdens of administrative work and thesis direction, coupled with near-continuous speaking engagements and her commitment to professional service, slowed her research and publications in the 1960s. She stepped down as chair in 1971, retiring from the Department of Home Economics in 1978. She died in 1998.

Scope and Content Note

The Floy Eugenia Whitehead papers date from 1935 to 1998 and measure 3 linear feet. The papers are arranged in twelve series: Biographical materials, Activities, Education, Personal, Professional, Publications, Research, Speeches, Unpublished Works, Photographs, and Scrapbook. Materials are arranged alphabetically.They chronicle Whitehead’s professional and public achievements, but contain little information about her personal life or her sixteen-year tenure as chair of the University of Iowa Home Economics Department. A brief autobiographical piece written for the Eleusis of Chi Omega on February 19, 1962 offers an overview of her days at the University of Georgia and attributes her initial interest in Home Economics to the suggestion of a girlfriend on whom she had a “‘crush’. . . in honest adolescent fashion.” A 1946 feature article celebrates Whitehead as a model for the post-war career woman and gives some information about her early work as a secondary educator. Her speeches shed light on her political attitudes, spirituality, and social consciousness.

Researchers in the history of education will discover, in Whitehead’s speeches, the remarks of a master educator devoted both to her subject and to an “American” style of teaching based on behavior-centered learning. She believed that classroom methodology was a home economist’s central contribution to preparing students as well-educated, well-fed citizens. Her speeches frequently stress the difference between student-led “teaching” and indoctrination-style “telling.” Her descriptions of a whole-curriculum approach to nutrition education, along with accompanying visuals in the 1952 filmstrip guide “Let’s Teach Nutrition,” provide an interesting glimpse of elementary and secondary nutrition education during the Cold War. Published summaries of the Ascension Parish and Kansas City projects also describe her teaching methods.

There are some unexpected surprises hidden within this collection. As part of her work with the Mississippi State College Extension Service’s project on family and nutrition, Whitehead read, cited, and summarized reports comparing the domestic practices of African-American and white housewives during the 1940s. Whitehead’s own data collection on Ascension Parish initially included African-American schools within the segregated school system, though her final project omitted an in-depth study of African-American schools. (See the 1943-1944 Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station Annual Report for mention of her initial data set.)

Those interested in the history of disability or the history of the body can find pervasive commentary on the “normal” body, particularly in discussions of obesity and the presumed characteristics of the “obese personality.” The working papers of the First Public Health Institute (1958), contained in the Publications series, include a few verbatim interviews with disabled persons. A particularly rare verbatim interview conducted with a child with muscular dystrophy illuminates medical and psychological attitudes toward children with disabilities.

Finally, researchers examining gender ideology and domestic life during the Cold War should not miss the numerous trade publications contained in this collection. Copious advertising aimed at or featuring women and articles discussing, for example, anti-Communism and the school lunch worker, will be of great interest.

The Biographical Materials series (1946-1998) contains articles and press releases written about Whitehead. Hiring information, a short autobiographical piece, and her obituary round out this series.

The Activities series (1934-1994) contains information about Whitehead’s membership in various professional organizations. In addition, the series documents Whitehead’s college career, including her membership in the University of Georgia Girls’ Glee Club and Home Economics Club. The series holds the account book that Whitehead used as a college student in the 1930s and a few of her published works of poetry from that time. Finally, the series contains materials from her trips to Washington, D.C., Nova Scotia, Maine, and the world tour she took with housemate Margaret Keyes in 1966.
The Education series (1928-1956) contains information from Whitehead’s high school in Athens, Georgia and class notes from her coursework at both Harvard and the University of Georgia are included in the series.

The Personal series (1937-1992) contains a sizable amount of personal correspondence, mostly Whitehead’s letters from Iowa to her family in Athens, Georgia. The series also contains articles regarding her family, including articles pertaining to her mother’s reception of the State of Georgia’s 1949 “Mother of the Year” award. Finally, the series contains a folder of information regarding Whitehead’s engagement to John R. Bill, the widowed husband of her college friend, who died suddenly shortly before their anticipated wedding date.

The Professional series (1937-1972) includes items from Whitehead’s career in Home Economics, including information from her time as a high school teacher, her involvement with various professional organizations, and correspondence. In addition, the series contains information on Whitehead’s reception of the prestigious Lydia J. Roberts Award in home economics research. Finally, the series contains Whitehead’s travel diary from her business trips to Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh and invitations to White House conferences on nutrition.

The Publications series (1934-1976) contains articles published in professional journals and trade publications, draft manuscripts of published materials, and correspondence concerning publications. The series also includes newsletters from Whitehead’s time of leadership in the Iowa Home Economics Association and the UI Home Economics department and her work as an associate editor for the Journal of Nutrition Education. Finally, the series contains a write-up of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting that Whitehead attended in 1962 and a summary of Whitehead’s work as consultant for the Department of Home Economics of Savannah State College in 1969.
The Research series (1913-1973) documents Whitehead’s Ascension Parish and Kansas City school nutrition projects of the early 1950s and includes photographs and student reports from the fifth and sixth grade classrooms involved in the project.
The Speeches series (1952-1970) contains press releases, programs, correspondence and manuscript copies of speeches presented by Whitehead to various groups, including professional organizations, women’s clubs, and state extension service meetings.
The Unpublished Works series (1949-1962) includes Whitehead’s Ph.D. dissertation, an audience handout for one of her speeches, and a brochure on the importance of adding eggs to people’s daily diets.

The Photographs series (1923-1966) contains both professional and amateur photographs documenting Whitehead’s life. This series includes photos of Whitehead’s family in Georgia, portraits of Whitehead for publications, photographs of Whitehead and her housemate Margaret Keyes, and photographs of classrooms from Whitehead’s nutrition research.

Two Scrapbooks complete the collection. The first, dating from 1933-1934, documents Whitehead’s college years in Georgia in the late 1930s with photographs and various ephemera. The second (1952-1954) contains photographs and other material concerning her family in Georgia and her years at Harvard University.

Related Collections

University of Iowa Department of Home Economics Records
Margaret Keyes Papers

Box List

Box 1                  
  Biographical materials      
    Alumni magazine, Harvard and University of Georgia, 1955-1962
Career and service overview, 1955-1970
“Careers in Home Economics, Floy Eugenia Whitehead,” What’s New in Home Economics, February 1946
 “Fathers Learn about School Lunches and their Children’s Health” The Nation’s Schools, March 1954
 “Frontiers in Friendship,” Eleuisis of Chi Omega, February 19, 1962      [Autobiographical piece]
 “Home Economics Heritage,” University of Georgia Home Economics Department, 1953
National Council of Administrators in Home Economics, history 1960-1990
Newspaper clippings, 1947-1973 (2 folders)
 “Notice of Hiring” Milk Plant Monthly, December 1953
Obituary, Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 3, 1998
Press releases, 1953-1962
“Two New Department Chairmen,” SUI Staff Magazine, March 1956
Vitae, 1958-1986
    American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1960
American Home Economics Association, 1961
American Public Health Association, 1953
Iowa Home Economics Association, 1967-1968
Ledger/Account book, 1936-1941
National Education Association, 1955
Poetry, 1934
      Nova Scotia and Maine, 1989
Washington D.C.
World Tour, travel ephemera, 1966 (2 folders)
    University of Georgia      
      Artistic activities, 1934-1936
Girls’ glee club, 1935
Home Economics club, 1934-1936
Miscellaneous, 1935-1994
    Athens High School, 1928-1930
University of Chicago
      Class notes, Home Economics and Nutrition, 1943
Home Economics 316 notes, Dr. Lydia Roberts, 1943
    Harvard School of Public Health
      Class notes
        Community Organization for Public Health Services, 1949
Box 2                  
        Public Aspects of Human Ecology, 1949
Maternal and Child Health, 1949-1950
Nutrition I and II, 1949-1950
Biostatistics, 1950
Public Health Practice, 1950
      Commencement, 1951
Miscellaneous, 1946-1956
Register, 1951
    General Education Board, 1943-1949
University of Georgia, master’s coursework, 1940-1942

Biographical materials, John R. Bill [fiancé], 1971
Newspaper clippings, family, 1943-1956
Personal correspondence, incoming

Box 3                  
Daly, Allison, 1955-1979
Brown, Clara Daly, 1975-1981
Takabe, Dr. Masuo, 1950-1965
    Personal correspondence, outgoing, 1960s      
    Resumes, 1953
Faculty Personnel Data Blank and recommendation, July 1955
High school teaching, Moultrie and Pelham, Georgia, 1937
Lydia J. Roberts award, October 11, 1956
Mississippi State College, Family Nutrition and Health, 1949
National Association of Home Economics Administrators, 1967-1968
Omicron Nu Home Economics honor society, membership materials, 1957
Professional correspondence

American Dietetics Association, 1952-1961
Incoming, 1949-1969
Outgoing, 1943-1972
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1951
Lydia J. Roberts essay award, 1956-1957

Box 4                  
      Requests for reprints, 1960-1971
West Georgia College, 1940-1942
White House, 1961, 1969
World Review Project, 1971-1972
    Travel, Washington and Pittsburgh travel diary, 1938
    “Why Clothing Anyway?,” The Georgia Agriculturalist, 1934
“Nutrition Education Research,” Research in Agriculture, 1943-1944, 1944
“Review of Health at Home,” The School Review: A Journal of Secondary Education, June 1944
“Nutrition Education Research, 1944-1945,” Research in Agriculture, 1944-1945, 1945
“Teach Them to Count the Points for Better School Lunches,” Nutrition News, December 1946
“What Nutrition Can Do,” The Nation’s Schools, December 1946
“Nutrition Education,” Research in Agriculture, 1945-1947, 1947
“Research in Nutrition Education,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April 1947
“Schools… One Solution,” Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1947 “Some Conclusions about Teaching Nutrition,” Journal of Home Economics,” October 1947 
Appraising Food Habits: An Evaluation Device with Suggested  Procedures for Classroom Teachers, 1948
Homemaking Teachers’ Resource Guide for Working with Adults, May 1949
“Nutrition Education Research,” slide transparencies, 1950-1952
“Public Health Assistance in Nutrition Education,” Public Health Reports, March 9, 1951
Health Department Assistance in Nutrition Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools, [co-author Frederick J. Stare] March 9, 1951
“Nutrition Education,” The Health Education Journal, October 1951
How to Conduct a Rat-Feeding Experiment, 1952
Let’s Teach Better Nutrition [filmstrip guide], 1952
Nutrition Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1952
“Studies in Nutrition Education,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 1952
“Dietary Studies of School-Age Children in Ascension Parish, Louisiana,” American Journal of Public Health, December 1952
Research in Action: Nutrition Education in Kansas City, 1952-1955 [3 volumes]
Eat to Live a Long, Happy, and Productive Life, 1953
How to Conduct a Rat-feeding Experiment, 1953
“Nutrition as I see it,” Practical Home Economics, February 1954
“Nutrition Education in Action,” Journal of Education, April 1954
“Nutrition and the Teenager,” Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, January 1955
Box 5                  
    “Moderator note,” American School Food Service News, October 1956
“The History of Nutrition Education Programs for Children in the United States,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1957
“Nutrition Education for Children in the U.S. Since 1900,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 1957
“Nutrition Education for Children in the U.S. Since 1900,” American Dietetics Association Journal, September 1957 [Dutch translation]
“Review of Teaching Nutrition,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December 1957
Proceedings of the First Public Health Nutrition Institute, June 1958 (2 folders)
“The Need for Nutrition Education—A Challenge,” Journal of School Health, September 1958
“Behavior-Centered Nutrition Education,” in Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, November 1958
“Nutrition Education,” The School Lunch Journal, January 1960
“The Role of Nutrition in the Prevention of Degeneration in the Aging,” Bulletin of the Institute of Gerontology, State University of Iowa, January 1960
“How Nutrition Education Can Affect Adolescents’ Food Choices,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 1960
“Education and Continuing Education,” The Sooner Dietician, July 1961
American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, 1962
“Nutritional Needs and Problems of Adolescents,” The Institute for Growth and Development, 1962
“Extensions Plot Nutrition Programs,” Texas Agriculture Extension Bulletin, 1963
“Nutrition Teaching,” Food and Nutrition News, June 1963
“Home Economics and Liberal Arts in Today’s University,” The Journal of Home Economics, 1965
“Selected Characteristics of Majors in Home Economics, Sociology, Language, and Art,” Journal of Home Economics, November 1965
“Consultant Report,” Savannah State College Home Economics Department, October 20, 1969
“Nutrition Education Research” Project Report, Phase I, 1970
 Journal of Nutrition Education, associate editor, Fall 1970
“Nutrition Education Research Project Phase I,” Agency for International Development, 1970, 1971, 1976
“Review of Nutrition Education Research Project, Phase 1,” Home Economics Journal, December 1972
“Nutrition Education Research,” World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1973
Iowa Home Economics Association, 1957-1970
Miscellaneous newsletters, 1949-1959
State University of Iowa Department of Home Economics Bulletins, 1957-1961
Box 6                  

Agency for International Development

      Correspondence concerning National Education Research Project, 1970-1973
Grant proposals and budgets for Nutrition Education Research Project,
    Ascension Parish Nutrition Study, 1944-1946
      9th Grade Gonzales District classroom visits, Spring semester, 1945 [transcripts]
Gonzales District teacher’s conferences, July 2-13, 1945 [transcripts]
Georgia extension work, 1913, 1923, 1929
    Bibliography note cards [shelved in Box 11]
Kansas City Education Project
      Correspondence with participating teachers [exit reports], 1957-1958
Research Summaries
        Miss Helen Murphy and Nelson School 6th graders, 1952-1953
Mrs. Angel Blaine and Kumpf School 7th graders, 1953-1954
Miss Bolin and Nelson School 7th graders, 1953-1954
Mrs. Ruth Lance and Rollins School 6th graders, 1952-1953
Mrs. Mahaffey and Kumpf School 6th graders, 1953-1954
Miss Perine and Rollins School 7th graders, 1952-1954
      Newspaper clippings, 1955
    “Nutrition Teaching,” presented at an unlisted location, no date
“Dietary Studies of School-Age children in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, presented at American Public Health Association meeting, October 21, 1952
“Highlights in the Development of Nutrition Education,” presented at an unlisted location, 1953
“Nutrition Education Programs in the Classroom—Beyond the Classroom,” presented at an unlisted location, 1953
“Research through Grants-in-Aid to Colleges and Universities,” presented to unlisted location, 1953
“How will Population Trends Influence Education in Public Health?,” presented at an unlisted location, ca. 1953
“Nutrition Education Needs of School-Age Children,” presented at an unlisted location, ca. 1953
“Making the Most of Your Food Dollar,” on KWK-TV, St. Louis, MO October 20, 1955
“Nutrition Education Improves Food Habits of Adolescents,” presented to the Georgia Nutrition Council, February 10, 1956
“Does Education Improve Food Habits?” 11th Annual Meeting of the Dairy Council of Milwaukee, March 1, 1956
“Open Doorways to Opportunities and Responsibilities of University Women,” presented to the American Association of University Women, March 17, 1956
“Nutrition Education is a Public Responsibility,” presented to the 11th Annual Spring Convention of the Wisconsin Home Economics Association, April 14, 1956
“Studies in Nutrition Education: Ascension Parish, Louisiana,” presented to an unlisted location, October 11, 1956
“Nutrition Education as a Public Responsibility,” presented to the Kansas Home Economics Association, March 23, 1957
“Educational Approaches to Nutritional Problems,” presented to the 18th Annual Nutrition Institute, April 12, 1957
“The Need for Nutrition Education—A Challenge to Home Economists,” presented to the Home Economics Group of the Iowa State Education Association, November 8, 1957
Box 7                  
    “Nutritional Problems in Young Adolescents,” presented to the Extension Nutrition Conference, December 11, 1957
“The Educational Frontier and the Science of Nutrition,” presented to Public Health Nutrition Institute, June 13, 1958
“Nutrition Education in Grades One through Twelve,” presented to the Health Education Workshop, Southern Illinois University, June 23, 1958
“Exploring Teacher Preparation in Nutrition Education,” presented to the Interagency Committee on Nutrition and the School Lunch, June 23, 1959
“Food Comes First, For Youth Power,” presented to National Youth Power Congress, 1960
 “Nutrition in Health Education,” presented to a health education workshop at Washington University, June 1960
“Prevention in Meeting the Challenge,” Regional Conference on Aging, June 1, 1960
“Education and Continuing Education,” presented to the Oklahoma Dietetic Association, April 19, 1961
“Statements Concerning Effective Nutrition Education,” presented at an unlisted location, April 3, 1962
“Methods and Techniques of Teaching Nutrition,” presented to Human Nutrition Workshop, Texas Home Demonstration Agents, April 12, 1962
“Nutrition Needs and Problems of Adolescents,” presented to the 5th Annual State Department of Health Institute, August 29, 1962 “Home Economists in Today’s World,” presented to William Penn College Home Economics banquet, May 25, 1962
“Fitness and Nutrition,” presented to the 16th Annual State Health Education Workshop, June 5, 1962
“Nutritional Needs and Problems of Young Adults,” presented to the Iowa League for Nursing, April 5, 1962
“Nutrition Teaching in Schools, presented to the joint section meeting of Food and Nutrition, School Health, Public Health Education, Public Health Nursing, and Mental Health, 90th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, October 18, 1962
“Statements Concerning Effective Nutrition Education,” presented to the Nutrition Education Conference for Elementary Schools, November 5, 1962
“Home Economists and the Liberal Arts,” presented to 47th Congress on School Administration and Supervision, November 26, 1962
“Nutrition Teaching,” presented to the Chicago Nutrition Council, December 1962
“Concepts of Food and Nutrition,” keynote address at National Youth Power Congress, April 8, 1964
“Teaching Nutrition,” presented to the Human Nutrition Workshop, Texas Home Demonstration Agents, May 7, 1965
“The Need for Home Economists with Advanced Degrees,” presented to Iowa Home Economics Association, May 18, 1968
“The Home Economist’s Role in an Urbanizing World,” presented at meeting of college and university sections of the Iowa Home Economics Association, October 5, 1968
“Challenge to Action,” presented to the Iowa Dietetics Association Iowa Home Economics Association Annual Meeting, April 12, 1969
White House Council on Food, Nutrition and Health, report speech, 1970
  Unpublished works      
    “Blue Print for the Faculty in the Department of Home Economics, UI,” 1962
“Eggs are Builders: Eat them Everyday,” undated
“The Challenge for Home Economics in Today’s University,” undated
“Early Concepts of Home Economics Education,” undated
“Health Education with Reference to Food,” ca. 1956
“Nutrition Education,” ca. 1949
“Statement Concerning Effective Nutrition Education,” [audience handout] ca. 1956
“Studies in Nutrition Education, Ascension Parish, Louisiana,” 1944-1948 and 1950-1951, Harvard Ph.D. thesis, 1951 (2 folders)
    Family, 1940s-1960s      
Box 8                  
    Life with Margaret Keyes, 1958-1966
Miscellaneous, 1923-1966 (2 folders)
Publicity stills and headshots, 1928-1963
Research, 1951-1953 (2 folders)
Box 9                  
    Research, 1951-1953
Negatives, 1938 American Home Economics Association Meeting

Scrapbook, 1952-1954

Box 10                  
    Scrapbook, 1933-1934
Box 11                  


    Bibliography note cards      


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