exhibition   timeline   bibliography   credits
  biographies   interviews   locations  
College of Human Ecology
Cornell University
  home sewing
  a profession?
  type of research?
  types of careers?
  national and international impact?
  educational techniques?
  role in national emergencies?
  influence on consumer culture?
  students' self-definition?
  practice apartments?
  role in the university?
  change to Human Ecology?
  women's suffrage
  Eleanor Roosevelt
  Marriage Course

Lemo Rockwood and "The Marriage Course"

Professor Rockwood's course on relationships, marriage and family was one of the most sought after classes at Cornell, a favorite among both male and female students throughout the university. While Rockwood's progressive ideas and the material's explicitly sexual nature made the course extremely popular with the majority of students, it also provoked considerable anxiety among the more conservative members of the Cornell community.

Lemo Rockwood's Biography

The Marriage Course

Professor Rockwood's marriage course was one of the most sought after courses on Cornell's campus, popular among both men and women throughout all the colleges. Her teaching approach combined traditional historical and anthropological approaches with an emphasis on experimentation and personal experience. She describes her course in the 1938/39 course catalog as:

A course dealing with social and economic changes which today are influencing the relations of men and women before and after marriage; scientific information which has promoted the study of mate choice and marital adjustment; the development of affection in the individual, and the achievement of heterosexuality; substitutes for mate love and the adjustment of the single person; the choice of a mate; courtship and engagement; the nature of the marriage relationship and factors which influence adjustment to this relationship; adjustments to parenthood.

Although wildly popular among the majority of students, the marriage course was not without its critics. The combination of Rockwood's progressive ideas and the explicitly sexual nature of the material provoked considerable anxiety among the more conservative members of the faculty, administration and student body. A letter from Miss Allen, then Dean of Women, to Miss Vincent, Dean of Home Economics, dated February 24, 1949, expresses concern over what Allen terms a "problem of semantics." Citing material in the marriage course as support, several fraternities had established "dark rooms" for the sole purpose of drinking and necking in private. Allen expressed her dismay that Professor Rockwood advocated and encouraged pre-marital relations in her course. In her own subsequent response to Dean Allen, Professor Rockwood defended the validity of her marriage course, asserting that she could not be held responsible for students misunderstanding or misinterpreting what she said in class.


Select an image at left
or choose from the list below:



timeline interviews bibliography credits  


Copyright © 2001 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853.
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524.

For reference questions, send mail to: rareref@cornell.edu
If you have questions or comments about the site, send mail to: webmaster.