Academic journal article Human Ecology

Value Our Past, Create Our Future

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Value Our Past, Create Our Future

Article excerpt

In the spring of 1900, the New York State legislature introduced a bill to establish a department in home economics at Cornell University. Although the bill was tabled, the seed was planted for a course of study that would evolve and grow. The individual most instrumental in nurturing that seed and establishing home economics as a discipline at Cornell University was Martha Van Rensselaer. In recognition of her efforts, the college begins the celebration of its centennial based on the year of her arrival at Cornell, 1990.

Martha Van Rensselaer came to Cornell at the request of Liberty Hyde Bailey, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture. He asked her to begin an educational program for farmers' wives that would parallel the extension work focused on farmers. Previously a teacher and then commissioner of schools in Cattaraugus County, she felt prepared to take on the task: "After having spent a number of years in educational fields where I felt a lack of some vital element which it seemed to me should be included in the education of women, I began to turn my thoughts toward a new subject called domestic science. …

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