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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.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Organization



Correspondence
1925-29

Box 1: folder 1-5
Memoranda and miscellaneous items
1922-28, n.d.

Box 1: folder 6
Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Smith College
1925-31

Box 1: folder 7
Questionnaire to alumnae for program development
1926

Box 1: folder 8
Reports to the Board of Trustees of Smith College (5)
1926-27

Box 1: folder 9
Minutes of the Trustees' Committee on the Institute
1926-27

Box 1: folder 10
Proposals for extension of the Institute
1928-30

Box 1: folder 11
Articles and clippings
1926-28, n.d.

Box 1: folder 12
Programs



Conferences: press releases, programs, clippings
1926-27, n.d.

Box 1: folder 13
Dinner Kitchen: Press releases, notices, menus, price lists
1927-29

Box 1: folder 14
Free Lance Writing: publicity statement, announcements
Oct. 1927

Box 1: folder 15
Home Assistance Club: publicity statement, announcements
1927, n.d.

Box 1: folder 16
Nursery School: articles, correspondence, notes, memos, reports, photographs
1927-28, n.d.

Box 1: folder 17
Summer Institute: brochure, miscellaneous notes
1929

Box 1: folder 18
Publications



Alma Louise Olsen, "Free Lance Writing as an Occupation for Women," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 1,
1927

Box 1: folder 19
Alice Peloubet Norton, "Cooked Food Supply Experiments in America," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 2,
1927

Box 1: folder 20
Ethel P. Howes and Dorothea Beach, "The Cooperative Nursury School: What it Can Do For the Parents," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 3,
1928

Box 1: folder 21
"The Nursery School as a Social Experiment," Conference, Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 4,
1931

Box 1: folder 22
Esther H. Stocks, "A Community Home Assistants Experiment," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 5,
1928

Box 1: folder 23
Ethel Puffer Howes and Dorothea Beach, "Cooked Food Supply Experiments in an Eastern College Community," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 6,
1928

Box 1: folder 24
Henry A. Frost and William R. Sears, "Women in Architecture and Landscape Architecture," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 7
1928

Box 1: folder 25
Ethel Puffer Howes, "The Progress of the Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 8,
1928

Box 1: folder 26
Note:
Ethel P. Howes and Doris M. Sanbourn, "The Dinner Kitchen Cookbook, including Report for 1928-29 Smith College Community Kitchen," Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, no. 9,
1930

Box 2: folder 27
Student Theses



Amelie Russell, "A Matter of Compromise: Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests at Smith College, 1925-31," 39 pp.
1977

Box 2: folder 28
Elizabeth A. Harwick, "In Search of the 'Good Life': Ethel Puffer Howes and Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests," 88 pp.
1983

Box 2: folder 28
Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests, Publications 1-9 in one volume,
1927-30

Box 2

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Family life education--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Family life education--United States.
  • Home economics--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Home economics--United States.
  • Howes, Ethel Puffer, 1872-1950.
  • Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests.
  • Women--Education--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Women--Education--United States.
  • Women--Employment--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Women--Employment--United States.

Contributors
  • Howes, Ethel Puffer, 1872-1950.


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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