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Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests Records, 1922-1931
1 box (.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 60

Abstract:
A research institute to develop methods of combining efficient home management with serious intellectual endeavors. Contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, proposals, and programs.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Historical Note

The Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests was established at Smith College in 1925 with Ethel Puffer Howes as director. Mrs. Howes, an advocate of domestic reform, formulated a plan for a research institute to develop methods of combining efficient home management with serious intellectual endeavors. Mrs. Howes submitted her proposal to the President of Smith College, where she had studied at taught. The proposed institute received a three-year grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation and the approval of the Smith College Board of Trustees.

The Institute had two major goals: to find practical ways to make household chores easier for women and to educate women to pursue interests which could be integrated with the duties of marriage. In an effort to achieve the first objective, the Institute experimented with ways to help married women lighten their daily routines. Between 1926 and 1929, the Institute conducted research and practical demonstrations to provide home assistance through cooperative nursery schools, dinner kitchens, and cooked food delivery services. To attain the second objective, Mrs. Howes sought to guide women into professions and activities which could be combined with marriage. Toward this end, the Institute studied domestic and landscape architecture and free-lance writing to determine their possibilities for coordination with family life.

Associated by the faculty with vocational training and home economics, the Institute functioned as an isolated entity. In two recent papers about the Institute, the authors concluded that neither the goals of the Institute's programs nor its theoretical bases were clearly defined. In 1929 Mrs. Howes asked the Trustees for a two year extension for the Institute. She also proposed that the Institute be incorporated into the college curriculum, a plan which the faculty did not endorse. After the Rockefeller Foundation denied a request for continued support, the Trustees appropriated funding for Howes to conclude her work. Howes did not complete her research and by 1931 the Institute was at an end.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records consist of six linear inches of correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, proposals, and programs. In addition, the Institute published a series of nine studies which present its various projects in greater detail.

Although numbering fewer than 150 pages, the correspondence and memoranda follow the affairs of the Institute from its conception in 1922, through its development, 1925 to 1928, to signs of its decline in 1929. The minutes of both the Smith College Board of Trustees and Trustees' Committee on the Institute reveal the attitudes and intentions of their members regarding support for the Institute. The material includes reports which outline the activities of the Institute and a 1926 questionnaire sent to 500 Smith alumnae in an effort to learn whether college graduates had integrated the interests of marriage and work. Unpublished and partial results of this survey are located in the files of Eleanor L. Lord in the College Archives. Between 1922 and 1927, Ms. Lord was educational consultant and research associate for the Institute.

Two student projects contribute to our understanding of the Institute. An important source is an honors thesis for a B.A. in American Studies, "In Search of the 'Good Life': Ethel Puffer Howes and the Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests," by Elizabeth A. Harwick. This paper traces the rise and fall of the Institute concentrating on its conceptualization and formation. A research paper, "A Matter of Compromise: The Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests at Smith College, 1925-31," by Amelie Russell, also examines the Institute's history.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests Records, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

There are no records pertaining to the acquisition of the Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests Records. A few items were donated by Benjamin T. Howes, son of Ethel Puffer Howes.

Processing Information

Processed by Eleanor M. Lewis.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives

Language
English.