Guide to the Records of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences

Collection Title: Records of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences
Dates: 1899-1972
Identification: 50/1
Creator: School of Domestic Arts and Science
Extent: 8 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Records of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences consist of historical documents, governing documents, minutes, correspondence, financial records, subject files, and ledgers. While the records span the years 1899 to 1972, the bulk of the material dates from 1901 to 1943. Dating from 1911 to 1943, the historical documents consist of official histories, clippings, press releases, and course bulletins that articulate developments in the School's mission, organization, and curricula. The histories comprise Bonnie Winthrow Evans (Mrs. Lynden Evans) and Mrs. Edson B. Fowler's typescript and published interpretations of the School's development, as well as a 1961 typescript relating the history of Northwestern's home economics program. While the bulk of the clippings (1911-1965) and press releases (1943-1946) pertain to home economics at Northwestern, two folders of pamphlets and bulletins (1909-1943) explain the School's curricula and reflect its recruitment efforts.
Acquisition Information: Unknown.
Processing Information: Rae Sikula Bielakowski, August 2003
Separated Materials: A small amount of duplicate material was removed and discarded.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Related Materials: See also: University Archives' General Files (WCAS: Department of Home Economics, and School of Commerce/Business School: Department of Home Economics)
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

In June 1901 philanthropists Bonnie Winthrow Evans, Mary D. Sturgis, and Clara A. Blackwell founded The School of Domestic Arts and Sciences as a means of professionalizing domestic labor; dignifying the housewife; and training college and working women in “scientific” household management. While the School-which awarded its first Associate of Home Economics degrees in 1908-initially instructed women in private home management, by 1916 its curricula had expanded to include advanced training for institutional management careers in restaurants, hospitals, and other food service areas.

A 1924 admissions brochure states that, while the majority of students were of “moderate income,” they represented “all classes of people.”

Inheriting equipment and three instructors from the Armour Institute's discontinued program in domestic arts, the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences opened in September 1901 at the Lees Building on Fifth Avenue (address later designated 19 S. Wells Street.) with an enrollment of 100 students. In 1903 it moved to the Burton Building at 177 N. State Street; and in 1915 to the Tower Building at 6 N. Michigan Avenue. The School acquired its “North Branch” at 350 Belden Avenue in 1921, where—aided by association and eventually a legal merger (1940) with Indiana House, a nonprofit organization offering room and board to single working women—it housed students and provided practice facilities, including a “model house” (1924).

At its inception women governed the School through a board of female directors —many active in the Women's Club movement—which divided into specialized committees, including an Executive Committee of governing officers. In response to the School's financial need, Chicago businessmen formed an advisory board in 1904 to assist the women in fundraising. An all-male board of trustees, organized to satisfy influential donors, took charge of the School's investments between 1907 and 1908. In 1929 the School's government re-organized itself as an elected board of trustees composed of both women and men. Membership dues, food sales, the Tilton Endowment (bequest of Lucretia J. Tilton, announced in December 1906 and received in 1908, as recorded in the Board of Directors' minutes), and donations from such prominent Chicago women as Mrs. Marshall Field and Mrs. P.D. Armour sustained the School through 1916, when it received a significant gift from the World's Fair Fund (proceeds of the 1893 Woman's Building exhibits) stewarded by Mrs. Potter Palmer. Bonnie Winthrow Evans served as president of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences from 1901 until her death in 1936.

Supplementing both the School's fundraising efforts and its day and evening programs of instruction, activities at the School included food exhibits (1903-1908); management of a profitable tearoom and the Art Institute cafeteria; product testing for Armour and Company, Swansdown Flour, and Quaker Oats; public lectures; philanthropic work in ethnic neighborhoods and among girls from the Juvenile Court; the compilation and sale of cookbooks; radio lectures on homemaking (1926); and the submission of home economics essays to the Chicago Tribune. The School of Domestic Arts and Sciences also co-operated with the Chicago Board of Education and the Presbyterian and Evanston hospitals to provide student teachers and nurses with additional instruction. During World War I the School worked with the Food Administration and Chicago Health Department to test recipes, publish wartime consumption guidelines, and demonstrate that nutritious meals need only cost 40 cents per capita per day. Faculty and students also prepared and served meals to volunteer war workers.

Although the School enrolled as many as 1,800 students in 1922 alone, financial losses led to its substantial re-organization in 1929 and the closure of its Michigan Avenue campus in 1933. In 1943 the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences was absorbed into Northwestern University to form a bachelor's program in home economics (College of Liberal Arts) that persisted until 1973.

Scope and Content

The Records of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences consist of historical documents, governing documents, minutes, correspondence, financial records, subject files, and ledgers. While the records span the years 1899 to 1972, the bulk of the material dates from 1901 to 1943.

Dating from 1911 to 1943, the historical documents consist of official histories, clippings, press releases, and course bulletins that articulate developments in the School's mission, organization, and curricula. The histories comprise Bonnie Winthrow Evans (Mrs. Lynden Evans) and Mrs. Edson B. Fowler's typescript and published interpretations of the School's development, as well as a 1961 typescript relating the history of Northwestern's home economics program. While the bulk of the clippings (1911-1965) and press releases (1943-1946) pertain to home economics at Northwestern, two folders of pamphlets and bulletins (1909-1943) explain the School's curricula and reflect its recruitment efforts.

Governing documents comprise the by-laws and documents of incorporation that provided the School's legal framework.

Chronologically arranged within the context of each governing entity, the minutes of the School's Board of Directors (1901-1929), Executive Committee (1929-1939), and Board of Trustees (1935-1945) consist of documents and bound volumes that detail the School's basic operations from its founding in 1901 through its early years as Northwestern University's department of home economics.

One slim folder of general correspondence spanning from 1908 to 1972 pertains mainly to the gradual transfer of School records to the Northwestern University Archives (1943-1972) and the publication of Mrs. Edson B. Fowler's pamphlet history of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences in 1947.

The financial records comprise one folder of financial documents (1899-1969)—including wills, donor lists, financial statements, and correspondence —relating to School income and expenditures; as well as eight volumes of treasurer's books dating from 1902 to 1916. (See also the financial ledgers.)

Arranged alphabetically, the subject files date from 1923 to 1945 and include some undated material. Course materials (1941-1942) include forms, syllabi, and schedules relating to School instruction prior to the merger with Northwestern University. Two folders of correspondence, financial records, and legal documents apparently compiled by Anna Rew Gross, financial donor and member of the Board of Trustees, span from 1929 to 1943 and document the re-organization of School government in 1929; the proposed acquisition of additional School facilities in 1941; and general business of the Board of Trustees. Correspondents include Madeline Mehlig, director of the Executive Committee. While the membership file contains revised membership rosters, trustees' minutes, financial estimates, and correspondence pertaining to social events between 1945 and 1952, the documentation of membership builds on a roster from 1929. The Northwestern University file (1943-1945) includes course schedules, syllabi, and progress reports relating to the new Department of Home Economics. Undated publicity documents consist of form letters, composed by Executive Committee director Madeline Mehlig, that targeted “church pastors,” “young marrieds,” and other mailing list groups. The S.D.A.S. v. Cook County Treasurer file (1923-1925) contains correspondence and legal documents pertaining to a 1925 Cook County Court decision that reaffirmed the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences' tax-exempt status. Mr. Lyndon Evans, husband of School president Bonnie Winthrow Evans, presented the School's case to the court. The undated speech file contains both a speakers' schedule and the typescript of a fundraising speech presented by School president Bonnie Winthrow Evans to the Chicago Association of Commerce. Finally, the “wartime” file (1942) documents director Madeline Mehlig's suggestions on meal planning and gardening during World War II.

Three financial ledgers (1912-1915; 1915-1918; and 1916-1926) meticulously record and categorize the School's income from sources such as food and ticket sales, membership dues, donations, interest, and tuition; and also its expenditures, including rent, salaries, and even postage. Financial transactions and account balances appear with their corresponding dates.

Finally, the roster and grades ledger (1919-1939) lists students by year and department and shows their grade in each course.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Home Economics

School of Domestic Arts and Science


Container List / Contents

  • Historical Documents
    • Histories of the School of Domestic Arts and Sciences, 1935-1946Box 1, Folder 1
    • Clippings, 1911-1965Box 1, Folder 2
    • Press Releases, 1943-1946Box 1, Folder 3
    • Pamphlets and Bulletins, 1909-1929Box 1, Folder 4
    • Pamphlets and Bulletins, 1930-1943Box 1, Folder 5
  • Governing Documents
    • School By-Laws, 1910-1935Box 1, Folder 6
    • Documents of Incorporation [copies], 1934Box 1, Folder 7
  • Minutes
    • Board of Directors, June 1901 - May 1905Box 1, Folder 8
    • Board of Directors, June 1905 - May 1911Box 1, Folder 9
    • Board of Directors, June 1911 - May 1914Box 1, Folder 10
    • Board of Directors, June 1914-May 1917Box 2, Folder 1
    • Board of Directors, 1918-1919Box 2, Folder 2
    • Board of Directors, Oct. 1922 -Oct. 1924Box 2, Folder 3
    • Board of Directors, May 1925-Apr 1927Box 2, Folder 4
    • Board of Directors, May 1927-May 1929Box 2, Folder 5
    • Executive Committee, Nov. 1929 - May 1932Box 2, Folder 6
    • Executive Committee, Oct. 1932- May 1933Box 2, Folder 7
    • Executive Committee, June 1933 - Mar. 1934Box 3, Folder 1
    • Executive Committee, April 1934- Mar. 1935Box 3, Folder 2
    • Executive Committee, April 1935-June 1937Box 3, Folder 3
    • Executive Committee, May 1937- June 1939Box 3, Folder 4
    • Board of Trustees, May 1935- May 1945Box 3, Folder 5
  • Financial Records
    • Financial Documents, 1899-1969Box 4, Folder 1
    • Treasurer's Book, June 1902 - April 1903Box 4, Folder 2
    • Treasurer's Book, May 1903 - April 1906Box 4, Folder 3
    • Treasurer's Book, May 1906 - Sept. 1908Box 4, Folder 4
    • Treasurer's Book, Oct. 1908 - April 1911Box 4, Folder 5
    • Treasurer's Book, May 1911 - Feb. 1913Box 4, Folder 6
    • Treasurer's Book, March 1913 - April 1914Box 5, Folder 1
    • Treasurer's Book, May 1914 - April 1915Box 5, Folder 2
    • Treasurer's Book, May 1915 - April 1916Box 5, Folder 3
  • Subject Files
    • Course Materials, 1941-1942Box 5, Folder 4
    • Gross, Anna Rew, 1929-1940Box 5, Folder 5
    • Gross, Anna Rew, 1941-1943Box 5, Folder 6
    • Memberships, 1945-1952Box 5, Folder 7
    • Northwestern University, 1943-1946Box 5, Folder 8
    • Publicity, n.d.Box 5, Folder 9
    • S.D.A.S. v. Cook County Treasurer, 1923-1925Box 5, Folder 10
    • Speeches, n.d.Box 5, Folder 11
    • “Wartime”, 1942Box 5, Folder 12
    • Duplicate pamphlets and brochuresBox 5, Folder 13
  • Ledgers
    • Financial Ledger, 1912-1915Box 6, Ledger 1
    • Financial Ledger, 1915-1918Box 6, Ledger 2
  • General Correspondence, 1908-1972Box 3, Folder 6