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College of Home Economics records

Identifier: ua00182

Scope and Content

The College of Home Economics collection contains materials from 1903, three years after the first college course work in Home Economics was offered, through 2006, when the College of Human Ecology, successor to the College of Home Economics, closed. The collection includes reports, studies, minutes, publications, speeches, correspondence, memos, program reviews and self-studies, news clippings, histories, photographs and slides, curriculum, building plans, interviews and planning documents.

Materials from Minnesota Extension Home Economics, consisting of several statewide nutrition education programs, can be found with the Minnesota Agricultural Extension collection.

The collection is divided into four series, three of which are further divided into subseries:

Series 1, College of Home Economics contains materials from several different administrative configurations, including the Department of Home Economics (1900-1912), the Division of Home Economics (1913-1949), the School of Home Economics (1952-1971), the College of Home Economics (1971-1990) and the College of Human Ecology (1990-2006). The series is arranged into 13 subseries:

  1. Children, consists of internal reports, publications, data, course information and survey concerning children living at the home management laboratories. These materials are restricted. Permission to use these materials is required. Contact University Archives for further information.
  2. History: contains written histories, reports, planning documents, slides, photographs, scrapbooks, slides, and daily journals
  3. Record Books contains expense ledgers and account summaries, guest books, meal planning notebooks, and maintenance and supply logs. Materials in this subset range from 1919-1978, when the houses were closed.
  4. Reports and Minutes: contains both college and committee level minutes and reports and range in date from 1926 to 1975.
  5. Subject Files: consists of a wide range of formats, including inventories, correspondence, financial records, publicity, house policies, activity surveys, reunion stories, details of home improvement projects, information on the “little red oil can” awards and selected research generated by activity at the two houses. The date range for the sub-sets is from the mid-19320s to the late 1970s.


  • Creation: 1903-2006


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Access to Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and are available for use by appointment in the Elmer L. Andersen Library Reading Room.

The contents of the sub-series "Children" under the "Home Management Houses" series are restricted. Email for more information and permission to access these records.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

Home Economics education began at the university in 1884, when Juliet Corson, superintendent of the New York School of Cooking gave a series of lectures on the principles of domestic economy and cookery. Yet beyond these lectures, there were no university home economics courses offered to women until 1897, when Minnesota began offering courses in cooking and sewing; and in 1900, the program expanded, offering the first college-level work in home economics, allowing students to work toward a bachelor's degree in home economics. By 1912, there were 139 students registered in collegiate home economics, and by this year, 43 baccalaureate degrees had been awarded.

In 1914, the home economics collegiate faculty separated from the faculty of the School of Agriculture. This allowed the home economics department to create three specialized programs: General Home Economics, Teachers' Course in Home Economics, and Teachers' Course in Textiles and Clothing - the later two for those who wanted to teach in these two fields.

The courses offered changed throughout the years, but by the late 1930's, a distinct set of classes were required to be taken by all home economics students such as "Choice and Care of Clothing" and "Introduction to Nutrition," to name a few. This lasted until the mid-1960's, when the college developed a nine-credit "common core," which allowed students to specialize in their respective majors without increasing the number of credits for graduation. During this time, the School of Home Economics also reorganized into divisions, each with their own curricular emphasis, such as the Foods Division, the Household Equipment Division, and the Textiles and Clothing division.

In 1970, the School of Home Economics was still competing with the School of Forestry, and 11 other departments within the Institute of Agriculture. During this year, the school separated, and was renamed the College of Home Economics.

In 1983, the School of Social Work became part of the College of Home Economics. And in 1990, the name of the school was changed to the College of Human Ecology, because less then 10 percent of the students within that college were enrolled in the general home economics program. Finally, in 2006, the College of Human Ecology was disbanded, and its four academic departments moved into new collegiate homes. The Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel moved into the College of Design; the School of Social Work and the Department of Family Social Science into the College of Education and Human Development; and the Department of Food Science and Nutrition moved into the new College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences.


86.7 Cubic Feet (70 (69 record cartons; 1 oversize))


This collection contains the records of the College of Home Economics at the University of Minnesota.

Source of acquisition

The records were deposited into University Archives by Renee Obrecht-Como on July 17, 2006.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

Extension Home Economics records can be found in the Agricultural Extension records.

Processing Information

This collection was processed with funds provided by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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College of Home Economics records, 1903-2006
Amy Flessert
August 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area