Book Study: The Secret History of Home Economics with Author Danielle Dreilinger

Welcome to Connect FCS Ed, thank you so much for listening. I’m your host Barbara Scully and on today’s episode I am talking with Author Danielle Dreilinger about her newly released book: The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live.

Listen in…


•    The founders wanted home economics to be a professional field that gave women career opportunities in business and in science and then teaching and that it helped housewives and women working in the home to do their work more quickly and more efficiently and to focus on what they actually needed to focus on with housekeeping so that they would have time to do other things, whether that be studying or a paying job, or taking care of their children. (5:55)

•    I looked up in the 1960s, the 1950s and 1960s when the feminine mystique and post-war World War II era of repression was really under way. It’s just extraordinary how young women got married and then for that matter, and how many women, did not continue that. They just didn’t continue their education at all. I forget the exact numbers, but tons of women just dropped out once they got married, and yeah, for some of them, it was voluntary, but there were also just, in countless careers, that would not let married women work there. (10:19)

•   The value was appreciation of their clothes, is really what it came down to in the beginning. Well, it was midway through the semester, I found a video, I think I found it on YouTube or something, but it was about the cost of clothing, and it was so impactful for not just for me, but for all my students, that’s all that they can talk about for a couple of weeks going, they were able to look at their clothes and go, Oh my gosh, the clothes that I just bought is doing to the world what it’s doing, it’s tearing apart a community because there’s so much waste, and it’s destroying water because there’s so much water that is used and waste that it’s not recycled or up-cycled anymore. (25:47)

• That is, we do now that is using Google, using YouTube, using all of these technology technological tools that we have at our fingertips at all times. Now, we are constantly inundated with new information and being able to streamline new things and to utilize old understandings with new concepts, and it’s a beautiful marriage between the two, and being able to use YouTube as your learning platform, I think that’s innovation right there, and being able to finally be able to figure out what the correct terminology was for that be coil or your stove, to being able to properly identify tools and components, it’s important. And it just kinda goes on with what you’re talking about, it’s important to be able to have that foundation. (40:54)

•   I think that the field, this is a great time for the field to revive. In fact, when I first got the idea to write this book, even before I knew anything about, even before I knew about Ellen Richards attending MIT, I said, Wait a second. Home Economics. What happened to Home Economics? Shouldn’t it be back by now? And this was 2016. I had this idea. So this is pre-pandemic, this was just me thinking about HGTV and the Food Network, and all sorts of the revival of interest in knitting and all sorts of DIY stuff and nutrition at so many topics like parenting and growing emphasis. Push away from standardized tests or discomfort with standardized tests, I was like, Shouldn’t this be back by now? So I think that now, after the covid experience, is all the more reason to the field to come back. (51:24)


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MAY 05, 2021

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