Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts





First Advisor

Pamely Riney-Kehrberg


Between 1925 and 1958 home economics education at Iowa State College included a special laboratory experience for senior students. They lived in home management houses designed with modern appliances and furnishings that allowed them to "practice" the homemaking skills learned during the previous three years of classroom study. This six-week stay included turns with cooking, cleaning, budgeting, entertaining, and child care. It was also during these years that the university brought infants into the homes to live for a one-year period. These infants, orphans from the state of Iowa, became the responsibility of the young women in the homes. With the help of a house advisor and under the watchful eyes of administrators, students raised orphaned babies who eventually returned to their guardians or adoptive parents. The home economics movement during this period proposed to train modern homemakers as opposed to rural farmwives. Iowa State wrestled with this idea, since the goal of land grant universities meant returning young people to the countryside to improve rural life with their newly acquired skills. Additionally, the various ideas for proper parenting changed over the three decades and students in the houses modified their methods to ensure the babies received the most modern child care. During the decades the home management homes existed, the home economics department served as a national leader in curriculum development and was one of the largest programs in the country. In 1958, the university removed the infants from the houses, thereby changing the focus of the program because of various social and financial pressures.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Megan Elizabeth Birk



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

91 pages