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Home Economics at Oregon State


A black and white image of an ironing lesson in Home Economics.


The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) maintains and makes available the University's unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs, and books. Subject strengths include:

We acknowledge that materials in SCARC collections and the language that describes them may be harmful. We are actively working to address our descriptive practices; for more information please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement.

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center public service point is located in the Reading Room on the 5th Floor of the Valley Library at Oregon State University. If you plan to visit us, please check our calendar.

See our Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center for more on how to visit SCARC, find our collections, and research tips.

How to Use this Guide:

A black and white image of a meal preparation demonstration for OSC Home Economics students, January 1954This guide is not meant to be the definitive history of the study of Home Economics on Oregon State's campus.  Instead, it serves as a starting place to explore this history on your own through the information contained in this guide and links to other resources, both in SCARC collections and outside Oregon State University.

Content in this guide is organized into separate sections both thematically or chronologically, and by location on campus or name of person.  This means there may be overlap between sections to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the study on campus.  This guide includes links to relevant pages in order to facilitate exploration beyond the confines of this one, limited guide.

When conducting your own research, play around with different search terms.  Previous names for Home Economics (and other related terms to search for!) include: sanitary science, household sanitation, household science, household arts, household economy, domestic science, domestic arts, domestic economy, euthenics, and arts ménagers.

These ever-evolving terms can complicate searching for more information.  Expanding and changing search terms in the course of your research may help combat this.

If you are unable to find what you are looking for online, or need further help, please don't hesitate to reach out to us or scheudle an appointment! 

A Note About the Sources Consulted

A black and white image of women sitting on the porch of the Home Economics Home Management House, named the Withycombe House, which was donated to the college by the James Withycombe family. Jacqueline Brier is the person at the top left back.In the creation of this guide, I relied heavily on SCARC collections and resources.

Saying that our collections hold a wealth of knowledge about the practice of home economics at Oregon State is an understatement.  There are numerous ways to approach the research: personal name, department, class, type of material, etc.  Within our physical collections I consulted department histories written for the celebration of past anniversaries of each department and the university more broadly. Before even getting into physical items, the finding aids themselves contain a wealth of knowledge in the description of materials and the details they contain, especially the "Biographical / historical Notes."

Oregon Digital is a tremendous source not only for photos and other digital surrogates, but for the knowledge that is contained within these objects' metadata.  Accompanying many of the images are descriptions and biographies.  Beyond the photographs that give a visual sense of what life was like on campus and in home economics classrooms, are the digitized copies of university publications.  The ability to key-word search issues of the Barometer, commencement programs, alumni magazines, and Beaver Yearbooks were a huge help in finding key dates and information about degrees conferred and positions held after graduating. 

The ability to access many theses and other published works on ScholarsArchive further helped fill in the details of many of the home economists on campus.

Last but not least, consulting with Tiah Edmunson-Morton and Chris Petersen early on in the creation of this guide proved beneficial for the framing.  With their experience teaching "Hidden History of Women" they helped situate the study and practice of home economics in the broader context of campus and society.  

You will find many of these resources linked to throughout the guide.

Contact Us

Our archivists are here to help!  Special Collections and Archives Research Center staff are available for virtual reference consultations. Please email us at if you have questions or would like to set up an appointment.