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College of Human Ecology records

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-15.3

Scope and Content

This collection includes the records of the College of Human Ecology from 1881 to 2005. The Arrangement Note provides summaries of each series.


  • Creation: 1881 - 2005


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Box 399 folders 26-28 are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

The College of Human Ecology was the third oldest college at Michigan State University. Its origin dates back more than a century, beginning as the College of Home Economics. It was the mission of the College to strengthen and empower individuals and families to interact effectively with their environments through a unique ecosystems approach.


1896 - Forty-two women enroll in first Women’s Course. Curriculum includes Domestic Arts (needlework, dressmaking, millinery, and woodwork), Domestic Science (cooking), music, and calisthenics, in addition to instruction in traditional academic subjects.

1900 - First Women’s Building (later renamed Morrill Hall) is dedicated.

1905 - Teacher training begins.

1909 - Women’s Department becomes the Home Economics Division.

1911 - Faculty invites women of the state interested in home economics to establish the Michigan Home Economics Association.

1912 - Omicron Nu (National Home Economics Honorary) is founded by the faculty.

1914 - The Smith-Lever Act grants federal aid to states for cooperative extension work, and formal extension work in home economics is begun in Michigan under the direction of Paulina Raven.

1916 - The Home Management House, a senior practice house, is established to provide practical training in home management.

1918 - M.A.C. is designated under the Smith-Hughes Act as one of two institutions in the state to prepare teachers for vocational home economics. In response, course offerings are expanded to include textiles, household equipment, and child nutrition.

1922 - Four fields of specialization (general, foods and nutrition, clothing and textiles, and vocational education) are established.

1924 - New Home Economics Building opens for classes.

1925 - In cooperation with the Agricultural Experiment Station, faculty first apply for federal funds authorized by the Purnell Act to support economic and social research related to rural homes and home life.

1928 - First Farm Women’s Week held on campus.

1941 - Home Economics Division is organized into four departments: Food and Nutrition, Institution Administration, Textiles, Clothing and Related Arts, and Home Management and Child Development.

1944 - Division becomes the School of Home Economics.

1947 - Nursery School for Veterans (Spartan Cooperative Nursery School) is established.

1951 - Home Economics Alumni Association is organized

1968 - Department of Home Management and Child Development becomes Department of Family and Child Science.

1970 - College’s name is changed to College of Human Ecology. College is reorganized into four new departments: Human Nutrition and Foods, Human Environment and Design, Family and Child Sciences, and Family Ecology. Institute for Family and Child Research is founded.

Administrators of the Division/College

1896-1898 - Edith McDermott, Teacher and Matron 1898-1901 - Maud Ryland Keller, Dean of Woman 1901-1913 - Maude Gilchrist, Dean 1913-1914 - Lillian Peppard, Acting Dean 1914-1918 - Georgia White, Dean 1918-1920 - Mary E. Edmonds, Dean 1920 - May Parsons, Acting Dean 1921-1922 - Mary Sweeney, Dean 1922-1923 - Louise Campbell, Acting Dean 1923-1929 - Jean Krueger, Dean 1929-1956 - Marie Dye, Dean 1956-1964 - Thelma Porter, Dean 1964-1971 - Jeanette Lee, Dean

Source: Jeanette Lee, et al., From Home Economics to Human Ecology: A History Digest (E. Lansing: Michigan State University, 1972)


19 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Series Description

1. Faculty Meeting Minutes. 1919-1966, 1975. 0.5 cubic feet. Summaries of monthly meetings of teaching, research and extension faculty, and supporting documents such as agendas, reports, committee membership lists, and notes of the deans. There are no minutes for the years 1911, 1913-1943, and 1962-1965. Only four meetings held between 1910 and 1912 are recorded, and only September minutes exist for 1966. Arranged chronologically.

2. Graduate Faculty Meeting Minutes. 1947-1955. 0.1 cubic feet. Summaries of meetings of the graduate faculty, usually held twice each year, and supporting documents such as outlines of graduate theses submitted for approval and proposals for new graduate programs. No records exist for 1948. Arranged chronologically.

3. Administrative Subject Files. 1880-1981. 4 cubic feet. Correspondence, reports, speeches, working papers, minutes of committee meetings, brochures, monographs, and “historical materials” kept by Deans Dye, Porter, and Lee, relating to the administration of the college but not documenting curriculum development, research projects, or Home Economics Extension activities. Only a small portion of this series dates from before 1925, and except for the enrollment, “history,” and Fiftieth Anniversary files, the series constitutes a poor source for the college’s early history. Marie Dye’s administration (1929-1956) is generally better documented by the General Correspondence of the Dean and the Research Records series. However, beginning in the 1950s the Administrative Subject Files provide considerable evidence of faculty participation in international projects, radio and television shows, workshops and conferences, and University sponsored programs such as the Nursery School Project for Veterans and Farm Women’s Day. At the very least, files documenting these activities contain brochures; often planning documents, reports to the Dean, and memoranda are also present. Several student and alumni studies indicate the college’s interest in evaluating the effectiveness of its academic programs. Records of these studies generally consist of tabulations and analyses of the data obtained; only the 1943 study of graduating seniors includes complete questionnaires. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

4. General Correspondence of the Dean. 1916-1964, undated. 1 cubic feet. Incoming and outgoing letters and memoranda of Deans White, Dye, and Porter, and of Lillian Peppard, who assisted Dean White in performing her administrative duties. Marie Dye’s correspondence (1929-1956) constitutes the largest and most informative portion of this series. It reflects her interest in the testing of commercial food products for nutritional value, the development of a program in conjunction with the U.S. Office of Education to teach home economics in liberal arts colleges (1928-1939), and the Civilian War Assistance Program (1943), as well as more routine aspects of the college’s administration. The few letters which document Dean White’s administration (1916-1918) provide minimal insight into the operation of the division. Letters and memoranda of Thelma Porter are more frequently found in the Administrative Subject Files series, and the portion of the General Correspondence series that relates to her years as dean (1956-1964) is limited primarily to memoranda to and from the various members of the administration formalizing changes in faculty appointments and responsibilities. No correspondence exists for the years 1919-1928. Arranged chronologically.

5. Committee Records. 1948-1966. 0.5 cubic feet Reports, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and notes created and maintained by faculty committees of the College of Human Ecology. Committee lists, and committee records retained by the deans as attachments to Faculty Meeting Minutes or as parts of Administrative Subject Files or Curriculum Files series indicate that this series is incomplete. However, it does include significant documentation. The records of the Educational Policy Committee and the Faculty Advisory Committee to the Dean are of particular value. The former include the files of a subcommittee formed in 1957 to evaluate the core curriculum, interdepartmental courses, and in-service training of faculty. These files provide excellent documentation of the two faculty workshops sponsored by this committee, and also includes a detailed final report, published in 1962, on the resulting curriculum revisions. The Faculty Advisory Committee to the Dean was formed when the college committee structure was reorganized in the fall of 1960. The committee’s purpose was to appoint other faculty committees as needed, formulate their objectives, and provide continuity by preserving committee records. Its minutes include annual reports of standing and ad hoc faculty committees and constitute the best single record of faculty committee activity from 1960 to 1965. Arranged alphabetically by committee name.

6. All University Committee Records. 1948-1963, undated. 0.25 cubic feet. Annotated reports, minutes of meetings, and correspondence relating to All University Committees, kept by members Thelma Porter and Jeanette Lee. Arranged alphabetically by committee name.

7. Curriculum Files. 1910-1967, undated. 1 cubic foot. Statements of educational policy, proposals for curriculum revision, general objectives and requirements for majors, and reports and memoranda relating to academic programs, maintained by Deans Dye, Porter, and Lee. The records sometimes evidence adjustments required by University-wide curriculum revisions such as the implementation of the Honors Program. More often they document internal curriculum changes such as a reduction in the number of required courses or a decreased emphasis on manual skills. See also Committee Records series, Educational Policy Committee; Administrative Subject Files series, Workshops, Conferences, and Institutes, Administrators’ Workshop on Home Economics in Higher Education; and Course Outlines series for the various departments. Arranged alphabetically by subject. Also included are a student paper and course notes and experiments notes kept by students for early courses from 1910-49. These were an addition to the collection and did not fit with any preexisting arrangement for courses.

8. Home Economics Division/College Course Outlines. 1924-1964, undated. 0.5 cubic feet. Primarily outlines of undergraduate and graduate courses taught before the division/college was organized into departments in 1941. The few files which postdate departmentalization usually pertain to courses of a general or interdepartmental nature. Outlines typically summarize course objectives and subject content, discuss methods of study and required activities, and list reading assignments. Exams are also present for some courses. The files for HE 550 and HE 850, graduate seminars taught from 1956 to 1966 on the history and philosophy of educational and research programs in home economics, provide useful chronologies of the development of home economics extension work and college level curricula. Arranged numerically and thereunder chronologically. An outline describing two courses is filed under the lower of the two course numbers.

9. Food and Nutrition Department Course Outlines. 1936-1964, undated. 0.66 cubic feet. Outlines of undergraduate and graduate courses taught in the Food and Nutrition Department. Usually prepared only during periods of curriculum revision or when a course was first introduced, they date primarily from the years 1940-1944 and 1962-1964, and typically summarize course objectives and subject content, discuss methods of study and required activities, and list reading assignments. Files may also include exams, class handouts, recipes, and pictorial materials used in instruction. Arranged by course number and thereunder chronologically. An outline describing two courses is filed under the lower of the two course numbers.

10. Home Management and Child Development Course Outlines. 1944-1962, undated. 0.33 cubic feet Outlines of undergraduate and graduate courses taught in the Home Management and Child Development Department. Prepared to facilitate curriculum reevaluation, they date only from the years 1942-1944 and 1961-1964, and typically summarize course objectives and subject content, discuss methods of study and required activities, and list reading assignments. Activities required of students enrolled in HM&CD 332, Practice in Home Management, are also documented in the Home Management House Guest Books, the Home Management House Home Entertainment Diaries, and the Home Management House Scrapbook series. Arranged numerically and thereunder chronologically. An outline describing two courses is filed under the lower of the two course numbers.

11. Institution Administration Department Course Outlines. 1935-1938, 1962, undated. 0.1 cubic feet. Outlines of undergraduate and graduate courses taught in the Institution Administration Department. Most are undated but appear to have been prepared as part of the major curriculum revisions of the early 1940s and early 1960s. Outlines typically summarize course objectives and subject content, discuss methods of study and required activities, and list reading assignments. Some files also include exams and class handouts. Arranged numerically and thereunder chronologically. An outline describing two courses is filed under the lower of the two course numbers.

12. Textiles, Clothing and Related Arts Department Course Outlines. 1935-1963, undated. 0.75 cubic feet. Outline of courses taught in the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Related Arts.

13. Short Course Outlines. 1944-1962, undated. 0.25 cubic feet. Brochures, schedules, notes, and outlines of courses offered as “short courses” through the office of continuing education. The Hospital Food Supervisors Course files also includes a report on the five-year pilot program. Arranged alphabetically by course title and thereunder chronologically.

14. Research Records. 1923-1977. 2 cubic feet. Reports, proposals, and correspondence maintained by Deans Dye and Porter concerning research projects of faculty members and graduate students in the College of Human Ecology. The Agricultural Experiment Station records primarily relate to research made possible by the passage in 1925 of the Purnell Act. Information regarding these projects is also found in the Reports and Manuscripts files, although they consist mostly of brief letters of transmittal for articles submitted for publication. Cooperative Experiment Station projects funded by the Hatch Act are filed under the North Central Association, which administered them. Evidence of industrial support during the 1940s and 1950s for research on subjects such as the nutritional value of canned and frozen foods is also present, and extensive information is provided on the Occupational Cardiology Program (variously called the Homemaker Rehabilitation Program, the Cardiac Homemaker’s Work Simplification Program, and the Heart of the Home Program) funded by the Michigan Heart Association from 1951 to 1959. Beginning in 1963, all research activities are discussed in the Annual Research Accomplishments Reports, which include summaries of ongoing projects and new proposals, titles of publications and manuscripts, and abstracts of doctoral dissertations. See also Graduate Faculty Meeting Minutes series; General Correspondence of the Dean series; and Records Pertaining to Professional Organizations series, American Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities, Home Economics Division, Administrators of Research. Arranged alphabetically by subject. Also included are research proposals for various projects. The files contain a research proposal for the project as well findings or results of the project. Not all files contain final information however some files only contain proposals. This addition is arranged in alphabetical order.

15. Financial Records. 1921-1972. 0.25 cubic feet General budget proposals, including salaries; correspondence and summaries of expenditures relating to research conducted by the Home Economics Division of the Agricultural Experiment Station; monthly departmental financial statements issued by the Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture; and annual and monthly financial statements of the Ethel Webb Home Management House. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

16. Records Relating to Professional Organizations. 1911-1978. 3 cubic feet. Files maintained by the deans pertaining to professional organizations of home economists. They include annual meeting programs and speeches, executive meeting minutes, reports, committee and workshop records, and publications. The records relating to the Michigan Home Economics Association document the significant role which faculty and alumni played in its formation and development. The remaining records primarily reflect the professional activities of Marie Dye and Jeanette Lee. Dye was president of the American Home Economics Association from 1949 to 1950, and as chairperson of its Committee on Home Economics in Higher Education was responsible for a series of workshops on departmental self-evaluation which were held across the country. She was also a member of the Home Economics Research Administrators of the North Central Region of the American Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities from 1947 to 1956. Lee served as chairperson of the French Lick Home Economics Seminar sponsored by the Home Economics Division of the American Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities in 1961. Participants in this seminar explored the use of the “concept approach” postulated by Paul L. Dressel, then Assistant Provost and Director of Institutional Research at Michigan State University, as a possible way of defining home economics as an academic discipline. Other organizations included in this series are National Council of Administrators of Home Economics and the Associations of Administrators of Home Economics. Arranged alphabetically by organization.

17 Records Pertaining to Student Organizations. 1920-1962. 0.1 cubic feet. Programs from Michigan Association of Future Homemakers of America meetings held at Michigan State University; records relating to the Alpha Chapter of Omicron Nu, including the organization’s constitution (1922), officers’ handbook (1926), the first issue of a newsletter-like publication entitled Omicron Nu (1920), and correspondence regarding Omicron Nu fellowships for foreigners (1922, 1937). Arranged alphabetically by organization.

18. Monographs Published by the College of Human Ecology. 1933-1968, undated. 0.1 cubic feet. Monographs, including pamphlets and bulletins, written by faculty members but not specifically related to subject files maintained by the deans. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

19. Home Management House Guest Books. 1925-1963. 0.1cubic feet. Signatures and addresses of visitors to the Home Management House. Arranged chronologically.

20. Home Management House Home Entertainment Diaries. 1948-1971. 0.5 cubic feet. Records of dinner parties, teas, and other entertainments given by Human Ecology students during their residence in one of the Home Management Houses. The reports, which usually include the menu, names of guests, a description of the decorations and entertainment, and a list of expenses incurred, were required of student managers as part of HM&CD 332 (Practice in Home Management). Arranged chronologically.

21. Home Management House Scrapbooks. 1928-1971, undated. 31 volumes. Scrapbooks compiled by the student residents of the various Home Management Houses. The volumes illustrate the activities required of human ecology students as part of HM&CD 332 (Practice in Home Management). They consist mostly of photographs but often include party favors and thank-you notes from guests. Arranged chronologically.

22. Department of Human Environment and Design. 0.1 cubic feet. Proceedings of the Historic Costume and Textile Workshop held June 21-24, 1978.

23. Reference Files. 1950-1967, undated. 0.1 cubic feet. Reports and monographs not retained as parts of subject files or published by the College of Human Ecology. Topics include home economics curricula and research, Undergraduate education, the family, nutrition, and rural life. A copy of the “Report of the Provost’s Committee on Education for Women” (1961) is filled with the materials relating to undergraduate education. Arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder by title.

24. Unidentified Fragments. undated. 2 items.

25. Restricted Items. 1943, 1957-1960. 0.25 cubic feet. Student study data including grades and other personally identifiable information considered confidential under the University’s “Guidelines Governing Privacy and Release of Student Records.”

26. Additional Materials. 1913-2003, undated. 1.5 cubic feet Materials that were processed later include course descriptions, reports, and other publications.

27. Alumni Association. 1955-2005, undated. 0.1 cubic feet. Includes directory, newsletters, correspondence, members, photographs, scrapbooks and other materials.

28. Volumes. 1 volume (2 copies). Copies of the book The First Three Decades of Home Economics at Michigan State College, 1896-1926, by Maude Gilchrist

29. Audio / Visual Materials. Includes photographs of buildings, classes, events, people and more. There are prints, slides and oversized materials. Also includes cassette tapes, VHS tapes and film.

30. Electronic Resources. The Electronic Resources include images and documents from the Human Ecology College Alumni Association (HECAA) from 2001 to 2005.

31. Annual Reports. 1897-1971.

32. Serials. 1923-2006. 4 serials.

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Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

College of Human Ecology Records
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Language of description
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Finding aid written in English.
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

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