Ellen Swallow Richards Part 2-Elements of Leadership

Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, September 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Ellen Swallow Richards Part 2-Elements of Leadership


Ellen Henrietta (Swallow) Richards, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) instructor in chemistry, the first president of the American Home Economics Association, and the recognized founder of the profession we now call family and consumer sciences, personified six elements of a leader. The first three were covered in the April 2003 issue.

Awareness Ellen was aware of everything throughout her life from the day she was born until the day she passed away. She appeared to always be on the cutting edge- ranging from her love of the natural sciences to the tiniest of problems, such as how much energy it takes to cook a particular item of food. It was by her awareness she earned the name "Ellencyclopedia."

It was during this time she helped women around the country become mindful, informed and intrigued by their surroundings. In 1886, Ellen created a new section in the Society, Sanitary Science, because of an increase in the standardization of water, gas, and electricity in the home. As a result of nearly 15 years of analyzing these new technologies in her own home, she was aware that housekeepers "did not understand what dangers and difficulties attend the ignorant use of the new arrangement" (Hunt, 1912, p. 167). She encouraged many states and universities to add domestic science to their curriculum.

Encouragement of the Heart and Body People may say Ellen was not a very empathic person. The truth is she was a woman who reached out to many people, whether it was to help them stay healthy or to understand their feelings.

Before Ellen left for Vassar, she was a volunteer nurse. One boy who was impressed by her nursing care said she was, "wonderful, cheerfulness and hopefulness when everybody else about the house was anxious and depressed" (Hunt, 1912, p.33). Ellen was also a nurse to her father when he was badly injured and she spent a large portion of her life caring for her mother.

Empathy, the understanding of another person's feelings, was yet another quality Ellen developed during her life. She always seemed able to place herself in the "shoes" of the individuals who came to her for help. After she married Professor Richards, she spent her Monday evenings "reading popular treatises on science, periodicals, and books of travel" (Hunt, 1912, p.125) to his invalid Uncle Richard, who also had an interest in the progress of science. When she was unable to do so, she would write a letter to him explaining her work.

During family reunions, she would fill her house with guests, including her own bedroom because she said, "They can all see each other more comfortably here, and some of them might find the expenses of a hotel difficult to meet" (Hunt, 1912, p. 128).

Persuasion Ellen was a silent persuader. She had a power to change the thinking of many people, inspiring many to support the education of women.

Ellen persuaded and taught students to keep meticulous documentation of experiments. She persuaded them that near-perfect records would simplify life and increase their credibility.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Ellen Swallow Richards Part 2-Elements of Leadership
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?