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Leaders and role models, 1950s-1970s

Submitted by Julia Faltinson Anderson from Ames, Iowa, USA
Retired Administrator
  • B.S. Home Economics Education 1941

Reflections on the era of Dean Helen LeBaron Hilton - 1952-1975

Background of the Division of Home Economics, 1952-1953

In the fall of 1952, Dean LeBaron inherited a Division of Home Economics that had an established reputation among peers in the state, the nation, and internationally.

Organizationally, the Division had nine departments: Applied Art, Child Development, Foods and Nutrition, Home Economics Education, Home Management, Household Equipment, Institution Management, Textiles and Clothing, and Physical Education for Women.

Basic curricula 1952-1953

Perspective of the faculty

The focus of the faculty was to assure that students would be well-rounded including personal development, preparation to carry responsibilities of homemaking, citizenship, and a professional career. All students took a required core curriculum including specific courses in the physical, biological, social sciences and humanities as well as courses in several departments of home economics. Additional home economics courses were specified by the respective departments to complete a particular major. Several courses required certification.

Perception of the students

Since this was the initial period following World War II, many students were more interested in marriage than in a profession. It was also a period when the ratio of students was five males to one female. Nevertheless, students wanted a comprehensive, integrated background that reflected the core curriculum and a specialization or major.

Changes in curricula

By the late 1950s, the decade of the 60s, and early 70s, a number of changes in requirements and options were made by the faculty to reflect the changing goals of education, new knowledge, and changing times. Curing this time, more decisions affecting families and individuals were being made in the public sector by government agencies and organizations. Therefore, faculty and students needed to be aware and concerned about these issues. Dean LeBaron's awareness of this public sector development was compelling enough that she ran for and was elected to the Ames City Council in 1966 - the first woman to do so. The program in this period also made available a field trip by bus to Chicago and St. Louis between Spring and Summer Session I, open to junior and senior graduate students and faculty. On-site experiences included visits to inner city public schools, day care centers, settlement houses, public housing, urban extension programs, Cook County Hospital, Family Court, and Health Services. A weekly seminar preceded the spring preceding the trip.

Departmental changes

Concurrently, there were changes being made in the various departments:

  • 1960 - Physical Education for Women - established a separate major

  • 1962 - Child Development - established a major in Elementary Education

  • 1963 - Applied Art - sequence of courses in Art Education was approved for K-12 certification

  • 1964 - Child Development - given authorization to grant the Ph.D.

  • 1965 - Applied Art - apprenticeships were approved

  • 1967 - Family Environment - began a new department by merging courses in family, home management and areas of child development and applied art

  • 1967 - Applied Art in the College of Home Economics and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning in the College of Agriculture. Architecture in the College of Engineering transferred courses to establish the Design Center.

  • 1968 - Child Development - major in Elementary Education (more than 600 students) was transferred to new College of Education

  • 1973 - Physical Education for Women - department transferred to College of Education

  • 1974 - Applied Art - transferred major in Interior Design to College of Design.

  • Within six years, the College of Home Economics had lost approximately 1,200 students to these two new colleges.

    Innovations in the Division/College

    In 1958, Iowa State College became a University and the Division of Home Economics became the College of Home Economics.

  • 1957 - Iowa Agricultural Experimentation Station became the first experiment station in the U.S. to include home economics education, changed name to Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment station

  • 1958* - Honors Program - Students with quality point average of 3.7 or above at completion of two or more quarters were invited to be designated as an honor student (one year later 3.7 was reduced to 3.4)

  • 1958* - High school guidance counselor visits. Invited counselors for full day of orientation and discussion held annually through 1963 when it became a university activity.

  • 1960 - International Contract - a 10-year contract with Ford Foundation, Maharaja, Sayajairao University, Baroda, India, and International Education Institute. Program was designed to help meet growing needs of colleges and universities in India for home economics teachers and to conduct research that would provide information about Indian families which was needed for effective teaching in the different areas of home economics--especially child development, food and nutrition, home economics education, textiles and clothing, and home management.

  • 1962 - Cooperative programs with private colleges. Students at Morningside College in Sioux City, Central College in Pella, and, later, Graceland College in Lamoni were simultaneously admitted to both institutions. The first two years were taken in their respective colleges and the junior and senior years at Iowa State where they were awarded their four-year degrees.

  • 1965* - Summer Orientation using student assistants. Members of the Dean's Advisory Board and Residence Hall representatives helped with orientation. This preceded the work of Cyclone Aides.

  • 1965* - Mature Women Studies. Organized representatives from the College of Home Economics, the Counseling Service, and the College of Sciences and Humanities to improve the plight of mature women students who had not completed a degree. After several years, the Counseling Service assigned a counselor half time and students were added to the committee. Later, this grew into University programs for adult students.

  • 1968* - Freshman advising. Six faculty were hired on a half-time basis so that advisors would be available to work with new students.

  • 1968* - Cooperative Urban Teacher Education Program (CUTE). Program was designed to give students intensive inner-city experience in student teaching on site with staff resources including counseling psychologists, social workers, and others.

  • 1968 - Peace Corps Intern Project. First intern project nationally that utilized B.S. and M.S. graduates in the field of home economics. The students learned language skills for the assigned country, had summer experience in the country, and were guaranteed overseas service that would use their technical knowledge.

  • 1972 - "A Century of Home Economics", a book recounting the first 100 years in the College of Home Economics, was written by Dr. Ercel Eppright and Mrs. Bess Ferguson.

    *Later adopted by other segments of the University.


    Cooperative extension specialists and resident faculty planned cooperatively to bring research and new developments to farm women. These one-day conferences were held annually for many years. The combination of resident teaching, research, and extension contributed to better the needs of individuals and families in Iowa.

    Institution Management personnel provided short-course training for food service workers in state institutions, hospitals, and nursing homes.

    Many of the developments outlined above were an outgrowth of the times. Dean LeBaron Hilton began her administrative role in an era when women were viewed primarily as wives and mothers to an era in which they were beginning to participate in the public sector as well as holding professional positions. The changing roles of women were reflected in the evolution of the curriculum over these 23 years. In her address at her retirement, she challenged the audience to face themselves and decide how they were going to use new opportunities available to them as women.


    A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University, Eppright and Ferguson, 1971.

    Unpublished notes by Julia Faltinson Anderson, 1952-2005