Just like the other feminized service professions -- teaching,
nursing, social work, and librarianship -- home economics struggled
to establish a professional identity. In a series of conferences
held at Lake Placid between 1899 and 1909, home economists defined
the nature of their field, debated what to call themselves, and
founded their first professional association and research journal.
In 1909, the American Home Economics Association (AHEA) was formally
organized with the aim of improving "living conditions in the home,
the institutional household, and the community."
Home economists then developed their own credentials and began
to earn advanced degrees in the field. In 1919, Cornell established
a chapter of Omicron Nu, the national home economics honor society
for both undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty affiliated
with regional groups such as the College Clothing Teachers of the
Eastern United States. In 1922, Cornell awarded its first masters
degree in home economics and, in 1930, its first Ph.D. in the field.
After a concerted struggle, graduates of the College of Home Economics
were finally permitted to join the Ithaca Branch of the American
Association of University Women, in 1949. By the 1960s, Cornell
home economists were affiliated with and held leadership positions
in many different professional associations including the New York
State Home Economics Association, the New York State Association
of Extension Home Economists, the American Council on Consumer Interests,
the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, the Association of
College Professors of Textiles and Clothing (now the International
Textiles and Apparel Association), the National Association on the
Education of Young Children, the National Council on Family Relations,
and the American Dietetics Association.
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