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Voice of American Homemakers Oral History Project collection

Identifier: 00161

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 7 volumes and 172 cassette tapes. The tapes contain over 200 oral histories from individuals in 37 states. The volumes contain the transcripts of the interviews. Also included are a published book that organizes the collection around key themes and findings from the interviews and the proceedings of the Seminar of Humanists and Homemakers.


  • Creation: 1981 - 1986


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

The Voice of American Homemakers was a five year project that documented the domestic lives of American women. The project was sponsored by National Extension Homemakers Council for the organization's 50th anniversary, and made possible by a grant in 1981 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It includes over 200 oral histories from homemakers in 36 states, stored both on 172 cassette tapes and in 5 volumes of transcript. It also includes the full text of papers presented at the Seminar of Humanists and Homemakers, as well as a published book that organizes the collection around key themes and findings from the interviews. The NEHC donated copies of the project to each state.

The National Extension Homemakers Council beginnings date back to 1914, when the Smith-Lever Act provided for the mutual cooperation between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the land-grant colleges to conduct "partial demonstrations" in home economics. The purpose was to bring the resources of the college to the people. Because of the overwhelming response to these demonstrations, people eventually came together to form clubs. In June of 1936, the clubs came together to form a national organization called the National Home Demonstration Council. In 1963, the name was changed to The National Extension Homemakers Council.

The Voice of American Homemakers project spans the time period from 1890 to 1940 and examines issues from growing up, education and food preparation to studies in courage. This was a time when the family worked together as a smoothly functioning unit and required a full-time functioning homemaker. She took care of the family, house and garden at a time when water was pumped from wells, clothing was made from a bolt of yard goods and a treadle sewing machine, cooling was by running water or icebox, and food was available only in unprocessed form. With the advent of electricity the homemaker found she had some time in her day for non-household activities, and became an active part of the community.


1 Cubic Feet (7 volumes on shelf; 172 cassette tapes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of National Extension Homemakers Council, Inc., 1986-03-04.

Legal Status

Copyright: National Extension Homemakers Council / National Association for Family & Community Education. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Voice of American Homemakers Oral History Project Collection
4 Published And Cataloged
L. Druckenmiller
March 1986
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US