Skip to Main Content

Home Economics at Oregon State


Dormitory room in Waldo Hall

1920 - With the expansion of expectations of knowledge that a student in home economics was expected to know, there was a massive shift in the home economics curriculum in the twenties. By that time, a number of the more basic courses in laundry, basketry, and millinery had already been dropped. Soon, household sanitation, housewifery, and home nursing were also removed from the catalog.

Students were encouraged to take more classes in history, art, sociology, modern language and public speaking or journalism. And the importance of courses in chemistry, physics, physiology and bacteriology were reaffirmed as the basis for related classes in home economics and should be applied to these fields.

Second unit of Home Economics Building completed and equipped, including a tearoom, seating 300 people, was opened in the basement.  Institutional Management was later moved to the third floor.

Courses were divided into collegiate courses and vocational courses, which were the forerunners of non-major or service courses.  A total of 192 hours were required for graduation with a bachelors degree in home economics.

Undergraduate enrollment exceeded 500.

Home Economics Building1921 - The Department of Institutional Management was separated from the Department of Household Science.

Margaret Snell Hall (now Ballard Extension Hall) opened as a women's dormitory.

1922 - National Convention of the American Home Economics Association was held on the Oregon State College campus in August.

1923 - Surpassed 1000 total bachelor degrees awarded.

Extensive curriculum studies resulted in considerable reduction of classes devoted to developing skills and made possible the addition of more courses in the liberal arts. Thirty six hours of science (chemistry, physics, bacteriology, and physiology) were required in the "professional" curriculum and seventeen (natural or physical science, physiology, and bacteriology) were required in the "general" curriculum.

Jessamine C. Williams appointed head Household Science.  She served from 1924 to 1944.

1924 - Kent House (the second home management house) purchased.  It would be demolished in 1991. Woman's Career, December 1927

The First Women's Day was organized. It would go on to become "Women's Weekend" in 1933 and "Mother's Weekend" in 1947.

1925 - "Practice Housekeeping" course retitled ''Home Management House."

Dropped one-year dietitians course.

First full-time research in Home Economics was begun by Maud Wilson, supported by Agricultural Experiment Station through funds of the Purnell Act of 1925.  Inaugurated studies on use of time and on housing.  Maud Wilson served as chairman of Home Economics Research, 1925-1949, and pioneered in housing research.

The Purnell Act was passed on February 24 by the US Congress, which provided additional appropriations to state's experiment stations, primarily for research in agricultural economics and home economics. Oregon's Experiment Station received $20,000 in Purnell Funds for the 1925-26 fiscal year.

1926 - "Department of Household Science" became the "Department of Foods and Nutrition," "Department of Household Arts" became "Department of Clothing, Textiles, and Related Arts,"and "Institutional Management" became "Institution Economics."

Melissa Hunter was appointed head of Institution Economics.  She served from 1926 to 1944.

The first nursery school was established and operated as a laboratory for students; was housed in Covell House, which was used one-half day as nursery school and as the second home management house.

Women's Building was built.

1929 - Publication of results of first time study by Maud Wilson in Oregon Experiment Station Bulletin 256.

Memorial Union tearoom used for Institution Economics.

First mention of the home management house in General Catalog: The Practice House, first established at Withycombe House in 1916, was used for instruction in Home Economics. The curriculum included "Practice Housekeeping" and work with "Practice Babies" (local infants used to teach the basics of caring for a baby).


East wing of the Home Economics Building (Milam Hall) soon after construction

1930 - Alma C. Fritchoff appointed head of the Clothing, Textiles and Related Arts Department.  She served from 1930 to 1948.

1931 - Agnes Kolshorn conducted the first research on foods as a home economist on Experiment Station staff, entitled "Baking of Pears: Standardization of Household practices as Applied to the Baking of Bosc, D'Anjou and Comice Pears."

Covell House became the nursery school laboratory and Kent House became the second home management house.

Surpassed a total of 25 masters degrees awarded.

1932 - The Oregon State Board of Higher Education designated the School of Home Economics as major school for the field in the state, and the Dean of the School of Home Economics was appointed Director of Home Economics for the State System of Higher Education.

The catalog of courses offered through the School of Home Economics was shared jointly with the University of Oregon, and two faculty members from Oregon State taught at both institutions.  

The number of staff was cut.

1933 - Publication of initial study on rural housing in Oregon Extension Service Bulletin 320.

1935 - The first PhD on staff, Margaret Louise Fincke, was appointed to do research in human nutrition supported by funds of Bankhead-Jones Act of 1935.  Her work on riboflavin and ascorbic acid requirements, and their presence in foods provided data were used in setting the first Recommended Dietary Allowances by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.

The first course entitled "Family Relationships" was offered.

Home Economics students sewing1936 - Sara W. Prentiss was named head of Household Administration.  She served from 1936 to 1952.

1937 - Surpassed total of 50 masters degrees awarded.

Third home management house, Dolan House, added to laboratories, but was eliminated in 1942.

Surpassed 2000 total bachelor degrees awarded.

Undergraduate enrollment exceeded 600.

1939 - Orchard Street Nursery School designed and constructed, which expanded facilities for education and research in child development and nursery school teaching.

The School of Home Economics celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.


Home Economics laboratory, March 1949

1940 - Undergraduate enrollment in the School of Home Economics exceeded 700 students.

The February 28, 1940, issue of the Oregon State Barometer was a Special Home Economics Edition.

1941 - Exceeded a total of 100 masters degrees awarded.

1943 - A second nursery school laboratory was housed in fraternity house supported by funds from the Lanham Act.

Margaret Fincke was appointed part-time to Experiment Station staff, and was the first nutritionist on their staff.

1944 - Margaret Fincke appointed head of the Foods and Nutrition Department. 

1945 - Park Terrace was purchased as a second nursery school laboratory.

Curriculum changes for those entering fall term 1945 included classes authorized for PhD program and the addition of Home Economics courses for freshman students.  (See Oregon Stater, January 1945)

Research on the Relationship between Nutrition and Tooth Decay was initiated with special grant from the Oregon State Legislature, which the Extension Women's Council was instrumental in obtaining.

Clara A. Storvick took over direction of nutrition research for the School of Home Economics.  Later on, research on vitamin B6, led by Clara Storvick in the fifties, and partially funded by the National Institutes of Health, provided much of our basic information of that vitamin.

Ava Milam and foreign studentsGeorgia Bibee (Peavy) was appointed head of Institutional Economics.  She served from 1945 to 1949.

Andrea Overman received the first regular appointment on Experiment Station Staff for foods research.

1946 - More curriculum changes, with a total of 500 numbered courses offered.

The Research and Marketing Act of 1946 made funds available for regional research projects, including a nutritional status study in ten western states.

First PhD. degree in the School of Home Economics was awarded to Suen-I Wu Chang with a major Household Administration (Child Development).  Her dissertation was entitled, "Relationship between personality of college students and their attitudes toward preschool children."

1947 - Textiles research supported by the Agricultural Experiment Station.

The School of Home Economics surpassed 3000 total bachelor degrees awarded.

1949 - Gertrude Strickland was appointed head of Clothing, Textiles and Related Arts.  She served from 1949 to 1953.

The first PhD. degree with a major in Foods and Nutrition was awarded, and a Textile minor was added for students in Business and Technology.

Clothing research was first supported by the Agricultural Experiment Station.


Modeling wedding dresses and bridesmaids gowns at Home economics style show, Spring 1953.

1950 - The Sixtieth Anniversary of the School of Home Economics was celebrated.

Mrs. Vera Haskell Brandon appointed acting dean from 1950-1954, and as associate dean from 1954-55.

1951 - The first Master of Home Economics degree was awarded to three graduating students.

1951-53 - The west wing of Home Economics Building was added and older parts of the building underwent extensive remodeling.  This remodel expanded areas for teaching and research.

1952 - The "Household Administration" became the "Department of Family Life and Household Administration."

Katherine H. Read was appointed head of Family Life and Household Administration.  She served from 1952 to 1965.

1953 - Azalea House (women's cooperative house) opened in September.  The co-op was named for Azalea Sager, a former State Home Economics Leader with the Extension Service, who was "instrumental in promoting interest and obtaining the necessary funds for building and furnishing the house."

Lucy R. Lane was appointed Head of Clothing, Textiles and Related Arts. She served from 1953 to 1954.

Exceeded 200 total masters degrees awarded.

1954 - Miriam G. Scholl was appointed dean pf the School of Home Economics.  She served from 1954 to 1964.  

Florence E. Petzel appointed as Head of the Clothing, Textiles and Related Arts department.  She served from 1954 to 1961.

A child using a Hobby Horse swing at the Orchard Street Nursery School, May 19531955 - Clara A. Storvick was appointed as Chairman of Home Economics Research.  She served from 1955 to 1973 when she retired.  

Margaret L. Fincke was on detached duty to Kasetsart University, Thailand.  

Helen Mulhern appointed chairman for the department of Institution Management.  She served from 1955 to 1962.

1956 - Staff actively participated as educational television was being established in Oregon.

The second regional research project in nutrition was initiated.

The Co-ed Cottage (women's co-operative house) was purchased (built in 1926 and first used as a sorority house). Today it houses Oceanography Administration and is the Dawes House.

1957 - Regional research in food marketing was initiated.

1958 - Surpassed 4000 total bachelor degrees awarded.

1959 - The first substantial grant from the National Institutes of Health was received for support of nutrition research.

Regional research in textiles was initiated.