EXHIBITS

What's in a Name?: The Early Department

Array ( [0] => HIST 6020 Spring 2020 [1] => no-show )
Women Experimenting in a Cooking Lab
Several women practice their cooking skills.
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Agricultural College of Utah Cyanotypes USU_P0014 Box 4, Folder 13, Item 14)
Home Economics Department Classroom
An example of a Home Economics classroom.
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Agricultural College of Utah Cyanotypes USU_P0014 Box 3, Folder 9, Item 19)

What we now call the Department of Human Development and Family Science went through many and various changes through its history, since the time when it was only the Department of Domestic Art. This was one of the first departments established at Utah State University. As the role of women changed over the 20th century, so too did this department in order to better suit the educational needs of its students.

The courses offered within the department in its earliest days emphasized “women’s work,” that is, cooking and sewing. [1] Over the following years, however, the department expanded its course offerings, to the point where Domestic Art and Sewing split into separate entities, and Domestic Art became Household Economy. This renamed portion of the university offered education in “laundering, fruit work, cooking, the science of nutrition, hygiene, household management, and aesthetics.” [2] The offerings were diverse even in Sewing, with different courses looking at different scale projects. The skills expected of women at the time were increasingly refined and given an almost scientific precision. Subsequently, in 1903, the department became the School of Domestic Science and Art, though its time with this name was short lived. [3]

In 1910, it was renamed to the School of Home Economics, and three distinct majors arose in the department: Foods and Dietetics, Home Construction and Sanitation, and Domestic Art, which had formerly been Sewing. By 1918, its emphasis would become Textiles and Clothing. [4] Despite the changes in nomenclature, the department’s purpose at this stage was clear: to provide women with a formal and consistent education in the practical skills considered necessary for home-making.

[1] Gruenwald, Kim M. Our Living Legacy: Improving the Quality of Family Life. Logan: College of Family Life, 1988. p. 6
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid. p. 7
[4] Ibid. p. 8