The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live

The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live

by Danielle Dreilinger
The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live

The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live

by Danielle Dreilinger

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Overview

The surprising, often fiercely feminist, always fascinating, yet barely known, history of home economics.

The term “home economics” may conjure traumatic memories of lopsided hand-sewn pillows or sunken muffins. But common conception obscures the story of the revolutionary science of better living. The field exploded opportunities for women in the twentieth century by reducing domestic work and providing jobs as professors, engineers, chemists, and businesspeople. And it has something to teach us today.

In the surprising, often fiercely feminist and always fascinating The Secret History of Home Economics, Danielle Dreilinger traces the field’s history from Black colleges to Eleanor Roosevelt to Okinawa, from a Betty Crocker brigade to DIY techies. These women—and they were mostly women—became chemists and marketers, studied nutrition, health, and exercise, tested parachutes, created astronaut food, and took bold steps in childhood development and education.

Home economics followed the currents of American culture even as it shaped them. Dreilinger brings forward the racism within the movement along with the strides taken by women of color who were influential leaders and innovators. She also looks at the personal lives of home economics’ women, as they chose to be single, share lives with other women, or try for egalitarian marriages.

This groundbreaking and engaging history restores a denigrated subject to its rightful importance, as it reminds us that everyone should learn how to cook a meal, balance their account, and fight for a better world.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324021865
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 55,152
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Danielle Dreilinger was a New Orleans Times-Picayune education reporter post-Katrina and a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow. Previously, she wrote for the Boston Globe and worked at the Boston NPR station WGBH. She lives in North Carolina.

Table of Contents

Preface: Everything You Know about Home Economics Is Wrong ix

Chapter 1 The Road to Home Economics 1

Chapter 2 The Lake Placid Conference 24

Chapter 3 Food Will Win the War 42

Chapter 4 Perhaps It Wasn't Really a Man's Job After All 63

Chapter 5 It's Up to the Women 87

Chapter 6 Clothes Moths Work for Hitler 109

Chapter 7 From Coveralls to Housecoats 131

Chapter 8 The Iron Fist in the Oven Mitt 154

Chapter 9 Selling Mrs. Housewife 172

Chapter 10 New Directions 189

Chapter 11 New Homemakers Build the Future 203

Chapter 12 Beyond Stitching and Stirring 219

Chapter 13 Addressing the Enemy 240

Chapter 14 Home Economics at Risk 256

Chapter 15 What Would Ellen Do? 273

Conclusion How to Bring Back Home Ec 287

Acknowledgments 297

Notes 301

Index 331

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