A History of Home Economics at Meredith College

For 30 years (1965-1995), Marilyn Stuber taught home economics at Meredith College, becoming department head in 1967. Under her leadership, the curriculum advanced substantially, with five majors added in 1988.

“Our goal remains to improve the quality of individual and family life, but we’ve added ‘and to make a living.’ Home economics is much more than stitching and stirring.” –Dr. Stuber, 1994

 In 1995, she received the Laura Weatherspoon Harrill Presidential Award, given to faculty members for their contributions to the College and its programs. She was recognized for her focus on and dedication to student advising during her long and distinguished career at Meredith.

 After retirement, Dr. Stuber wrote the following history of the home economics department, covering 1914 through the mid-1990s.

 THE “NEW” HOME ECONOMICS DEPARTMENT AT MEREDITH 

By Marilyn Cook Stuber 

            Home Economics/Human Environmental Sciences has a proud history at Meredith College.  The Department was added very early in the history of the College and has offered a viable program from that time to the present.  In my retirement, it has been my pleasure to summarize the eighty-year history, starting with the one-person department in 1914 to the department of nearly 20 faculty members in the late 1990’s.

            Perhaps the person who had the greatest impact on the Department was Miss Ellen Brewer, chairman from 1922 to 1966, a period of 44 years.  Her graduates are lavish in their praise of her, a dedicated, compassionate person who prepared them not only for professions but for life.  The Brewer era reflected a stable curriculum with little change.  The turbulent years of constant adjustment and change would come later.

            When the Brewer family home was dissolved following the death of Miss Ann Eliza Brewer, the many scrapbooks and boxes of clippings dating back to events prior to 1900 were given to the Department and the College.  Before any written history could be attempted, it was necessary to read all of the clippings and place them in chronological order.  They were then placed in additional scrapbooks.  A tedious task, this process consumed more than a year (to say nothing of personal household space).  It is largely from the news events and scrapbooks preserved by the Brewer family, in addition to the carefully written A History of Meredith College by Mary Lynch Johnson that the Home Economics/Human Environmental Sciences history emerged.

Special thanks go to Deborah Tippett and Ellen Goode for critiquing the manuscript. Deborah’s eighty year history of the department that she prepared for Alumnae College in 1994 was a helpful guide.  Orchids to Charlie for his computer expertise and patience.

            It should be remembered that the careers of alumnae reflect their responses to the Home Economics newsletters in 1992 and 1995; their careers may have changed in the interim between their response and publication of this history.  I would like to invite all readers of this document to help with any inaccuracies, incomplete descriptions or additions of pertinent information that can clarify the history of Home Economics/Human Environmental sciences for future generations.

To read the rest of the Home Economics History written by Dr. Stuber, please click here.

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