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A place in history, 1950s-1970s

Submitted by Irene Beavers (Compiler) from Ames, Iowa, USA
Professor Emeritus, Home Economics Education

Home economics graduate programs and research - 1950-1970

It was in 1957 that the Iowa State Agriculture Experiment Station became the Iowa State Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, opening up the possibility for home economics to receive some of the U.S.D.A. research money for the home economics college. The State Board of Regents approved the establishment of a Home Economics Research Institute in 1966 with Helen R. LeBaron as director.

The department of Applied Art had offered the M.S. degree since 1923 with 38 students completing degrees from 1953 to 1971. With Marjorie Garfield as head from 1948 until 1969, a major emphasis for the department was painting and design.

Dr. Glenn Hawks became head of Child Development in 1953 and remained for fifteen years. During his time, he was successful in obtaining the first substantial support for research in child development. The graduate research areas of major importance were: the effects of noncontinuous mothering on physical growth and psychological development of children; motor performance and social interaction; perception and transmission of learning; tests for reading readiness, curriculum and programs for preschool children.

The Family Environment Department was established in July 1967 with a focus on the family in its total setting. It combined the Home Management, Household Equipment, and certain areas of the Applied Art and Child Development Departments. The graduate student program emphasized: the individual and the family; management and consumer behavior; household equipment; and housing as a part of an interdepartmental major for the master's level.

Research areas in the Family Environment Department in 1971 included: patterns of living among disadvantaged families; measurement of human and community resources; rural Iowa elderly living patterns; care of fabrics; housing in the Model City area of Des Moines; and perception of space in housing.

Nutrition research programs in 1971 included a broad range of subjects: relationships among nutrients in the metabolism of growing and mature albino rats, for example, protein and Vitamin A, protein and dietary fat; relationships between immuno and dietary proteins; availability of iron and the influence of dietary protein upon iron metabolism; effects of protein deficiency during gestation on fetal and placental development, growth and reproductive performance of offspring and learning behavior of the young; and effect of time intervals in eating on lipid metabolism.

The food science research was concerned with ways to increase the usefulness and satisfaction to the consumer of many Iowa foods, such as eggs, poultry, beef, pork, green beans, and tomatoes. Particularly significant were studies by Dr. Frances Carlin on pork which have indicated new standards for doneness of pork, producing a more palatable product.

The Department of Home Economics Education had several research projects supported during the 50's to the 70's. Major research areas were: educational needs of rural homemakers; bases of state program planning for home economics in public schools; development of devices for evaluating the effectiveness of home economics programs; measurement of vocational interest within the field of home economics; values held by homemakers; prediction of success of graduates of ISU in teaching vocational home economics; bases for planning a curriculum in homemaking in the public schools; pilot study of employment-oriented courses in home economics for slow learners; clusters of occupations requiring similar home economics competencies; patterns for managerial instruction in area vocational curricula; and interrelationships of home environment and employment.

The Home Management Department took a vigorous research and graduate program to the Family Environment Department. From 1952 through 1968, fifty students completed an M.S. degree in home management and three, the Ph.D. degree in consumption economics. Research leader, Dr. Margaret Liston, had projects in farm family housing needs and preferences, family financial security, farm family goals (cooperation with Economics Department), socio-economic status related to management problems of rural and urban families; dimensions and variations in images of consumers; elements of economic development in young families of urban Iowa; evaluation of present methods for determining assistance grants for ADC and Old Age Assistance in Iowa.

Household Equipment Department

Research programs in household equipment developed in several areas: radioactive soil as a means of measuring water performance; laundering children's clothes of natural and synthetic fiber; performance of washers for the care of modern fabrics; housing and equipment for women from 65 to 80 years of age; and special needs of older women with arthritis and other handicaps. In addition, studies of the performance of thermostatic controls of surface units and burners of ranges were studied and "Sociological and Psychological Responses of Students to Lighting for Study in Residence Halls at I.S.U." Extensive research on the microwave range was also a part of the department's research.

Institution Management Department

A major research study in the department from 1965-69 was "Bases for Vocational Education for Food Service Industry Employees." Fourteen graduate students participated in the research. Two subsequent research projects were built on the findings of the 1965-69 project, one having to do with retention of job knowledge by food service personnel and, the other, self-instructional training by food service personnel. The research of this department was contributing toward one of the basic needs of the food service industry - effective education of employees.

Textiles and Clothing Department

The department participated actively in the regional project NC-24 "The Consumption Characteristics and Serviceability of Wearing Apparel." This Iowa work related to boys' clothes and girls' skirts. Two research projects were supported by the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company: "Care of Children's Clothing" and "Men's Work Pants."

Also, projects were supported by the Home Economics Research Institute and included: "A self-teaching device for use in flat-pattern construction classes"; "Value of teaching aids applying perceptual theory to costume"; "Adaptability of oily stain release test to a textured polyester knit." Another important project related to historic textile conservation.

A major research area in the department from 1961 was clothing consumption. One phase of the project was the development of a clothing consumption model and low-income clothing budgets.

Physical Education for Women

In 1970, the faculty submitted a proposal to the Graduate College for a Master's degree program in physical education to be given by the Department of Men's and Women's Physical Education. A nonteaching major degree program was added, leading to a recreation degree program.

Research of staff included "Relationship between physical fitness and learning a new gross motor skill"; "Relationship between analyzation and execution of a gross motor skill"; "Comparison of the effects of the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plan for Physical Fitness and The Aerobic Exercise Program" in grip strength, exercise and recovery pulse rate, and selected skinfold and girth measurement.

In cooperation with counseling and dietitian, the department conducted "A study of the relationship between weight classifications, excess fatness and eating habits, exercise habits, and psychological outlook of Iowa State women." Since the fifties, the department consulted and cooperated with the nutrition researchers in their studies of overweight among Iowa school children.

This synopsis was compiled by Irene Beavers, Professor Emeritus, Home Economics Education, Iowa State University. Source: Eppright, Ercel S., and Ferguson, Elizabeth S., "A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University," l971.