Home Economics to Human Ecology: A Centennial History at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

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Home Economics to Human Ecology: A Centennial History at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is a digital collection of photographs and ephemera illustrating aspects of the past 100 years at the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Some of the material was used to develop the School’s history website. Most of this material has been drawn from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Archives.

Historical Background

The Department of Home Economics began at Madison in 1903 with the appointment of Caroline L. Hunt, as professor of home economics. Her successor, Abby Marlatt, was appointed in 1909. With the purchase of the Practice Cottage in 1911 and the completion of the Home Economics and Extension Building in 1914, the program grew dramatically from 52 students in 1906 to 605 students the year of Marlatt’s retirement. In the same period, with activities such as Housekeepers’ Conferences, the Dorothy Roberts Nursery School, and the lunch room, faculty and students reached out to the larger community.

Under Frances Zuill (1939-1961), Marlatt’s successor, the program continued to evolve. The Home Management House replaced the out-dated Practice Cottage in 1941. In 1951, the Department of Home Economics becomes the School of Home Economics within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with Zuill named Associate Dean in the College. The School’s departmental structure was established. In the same year, construction began on the new west wing of the Home Economics Building; it was completed in 1953.

In the four decades since Zuill’s retirement in 1961, the School has undergone significant transformations. In 1973, it became a independent unit on campus, first as the School of Home Economics, then the School of Family Resources and Consumer Sciences, and today as the School of Human Ecology. Breaking with a tradition of many decades, the Home Management House closed in the early 1970s.


The photographs and ephemera included in this collection document many of the most exciting aspects of the School’s history. They include examples of student activities involving life in the Home Management House, work in laboratories, and the functions of student organizations such as Phi Upsilon Nu, Omicron Nu, and the Euthenics Club; portraits of administrators and past faculty; scenes of classrooms and buildings; illustrations of faculty and students working together; and illustrations of extension projects. In addition to the identifying information listed with each entry, users may want to investigate the School’s history website, which presents the School’s history in greater detail and biographies of many former faculty members.