Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/September 1898/College Women and the New Science
|COLLEGE WOMEN AND THE NEW SCIENCE.|
IT is only after many years of earnest work on the part of comparatively few that it is beginning to be understood that domestic science is something definite, reducible to forms, capable of being studied comprehensively, and worthy of a place beside the other sciences in the curriculum of important universities and colleges.
Women have gone to college and heard lectures on physiology in an atmosphere of eighty-five degrees, heavy with carbonic-acid gas, and then passed to others where the thermometer read sixty-five degrees and the chill air from without blew upon their heads, wondering that such things could be side by side with perfect theoretical instruction.
They have gone from new knowledge of bacteria to a certainty of the existence of unwholesome germs in the improperly-cared-for furnishings of their student apartments.
They have learned the composition of the blood, bone, and muscle of human beings, and what substances contain their chemical elements, and then have asked what better use could be made of this knowledge than in securing diets which should perfectly nourish.
They have studied political economy and sociology, and have returned to reflect and observe that their principles are applicable to the social and domestic problems which are now before their eyes.
In the study of mathematics they have learned that nothing wrong can be righted without going to its root, and so have naturally turned their minds to the causes of the complications in domestic machinery which are apparent on every hand.
The study of history has made them realize that any plan for improvement in any condition of things, in order to rest upon a sure foundation, must be based upon a knowledge of the past.
Returned to find herself face to face with practical problems and having her logic still in mind, the college woman asks why such a foundation as she finds has been laid by Miss Juliet Corson in a knowledge of toothsome cookery should not be utilized as a foundation for scientific cookery.
In a four-years' contact with professors and students, she has learned the value of definite knowledge, and now sees as few else could its necessity in order to make any headway with the vexed questions lying nearest her, for to her especially belongs the solution of home problems through daily contact with their minute details, through her woman's nature which nothing can efface, and on account of her special opportunities.
With the thirty thousand girls who have already graduated from colleges, according to Alice Freeman Palmer, carrying these reasonings into innumerable towns and hamlets, the outcome must be something definite, and it is no source of surprise to find that some of them have gradually collected the present knowledge on all topics relating to the welfare of the home, under the comprehensive title of household economics or domestic science, and that great numbers of them are working hard in various lines of this subject.
Let us examine this work of some of our college graduates who have done most in this direction.
The active interest of college women in the subject of household economics was shown as long ago as 1883, when the Boston branch of the Collegiate Alumnæ organized its Sanitary Science Club, the first organization of distinctively college women for the study of any branch of household economics. The report at the end of its first year's work says: "The members of the Sanitary Science Club can not too strongly urge upon the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ the importance of giving thought and attention to the hygiene of the home. This duty falls more or less upon all women, but with none should it be more exacting than with college graduates."
The efforts of this club for science in the home have been productive of great results, as we shall see.
After five years' study, a manual for housekeepers, called Home Sanitation, was prepared by this club and edited by two of its members, Mrs. Ellen H. Richards and Miss Marion Talbot. This manual has been for some time one of the standard works upon the subject, and used as a basis for study in home science clubs.
One of these editors. Miss Marion Talbot, who has the degrees of A. B. and A. M. from Boston University, and of S. B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after having first realized the importance of the subject in this club, began lecturing regularly upon domestic science in 1886 at La Salle Seminary, and continued till 1800, when she took charge of this department at Wellesley College. In 1892 she was called to the University of Chicago as dean of the woman's department, where she is now carrying on courses in sanitation and the study of foods.
The first interest of the other editor of Home Sanitation, Mrs. Ellen H, Richards, in domestic science dated from a much earlier period. Having graduated at Vassar in 1870, she went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to work in the chemical laboratory preparatory to taking the degree of S. B., which she received from that institution, as well as the degree of M. A. from Vassar, in 1873. While working in the chemical laboratory in 1871, a prominent educator, now deceased, made the sneering remark to her, What good do you expect all this will do you in the kitchen?" "As if," as she says, "I was necessarily to spend my life in the kitchen, or as if there was no chemistry to be used in the kitchen!"
Even sneers have their value, since, as we shall see in this case, they are often the spurs to great achievements.
Shortly after the culmination of the work of the Sanitary Science Club in Home Sanitation, in the fall of 1889, Mrs. Mary Hinman Abel, a graduate of Elmira College, returned from a six-years' residence in different European cities with the idea that something might be done toward the better nourishment of the working people, such as she had seen in Germany and Austria in the Volksküche, and in the Fourneau Économique in France.
During her husband's prolonged absence in Europe, she went for six months to stay with Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, now professor of sanitary chemistry in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who had become especially interested in her through being one of the judges in the matter of the prize of five hundred dollars offered by Mr. Lomb, of Rochester, N. Y., for the best essay on practical sanitary and economic cooking. Mrs. Abel won this prize, and her little volume bearing this title is considered the simplest and still the most scientific presentation of the subject yet made.
The fruit of this six-months' companionship was the now famous New England Kitchen, started under Mrs. Abel's direct charge. Even the first meeting of these two women foreshadowed the future developments along this line, for then, in mentioning the needs of the working people in this country, Mrs. Richards remarked that Mrs. Quincy A. Shaw, of Boston, and a daughter of the scientist Louis Agassiz, had been ready for some time with the money which might be necessary for such an experiment, she having especially in mind the establishment of a place which, by furnishing cheap and good food, should help to keep laboring men from the saloons.
Mrs. Shaw, having only the benevolent idea in mind, relied entirely upon her friend Mrs. Richards as to ways and means, but agreed with both her and Mrs. Abel that much experiment and the gathering of information must underlie true philanthropy in this direction.
The principles upon which this experiment rested were, then, as they said, the necessity of finding out "how people live, how they cook, and what they buy ready cooked, in order to lay out any satisfactory plan of reform," and the value of bringing absolute accuracy into certain departments of food preparation, so that a physician in ordering an article of diet—beef broth, for instance—might know just what unvarying nutrients it would contain.
In accordance with these ideas and plans, a first-floor room and cellar were rented at 142 Pleasant Street, "a respectable part of the city, consisting mostly of small shops and of houses let out in flats or rooms, and occupied by people who follow various trades."
By January 24, 1890, the kitchen was opened for the sale of food, it offering at that time beef broth, vegetable soup, pea soup, corn mush, boiled hominy, oatmeal mush, cracked wheat, and spiced beef. Since then other preparations have been added.
Every dish offered by the kitchen is what would be known as a standard dish as compared with one suited only to occasional times. In order to be able to offer standard dishes, the requirements which they must meet were several. "First, the cost of material must not go beyond a certain limit. Second, the labor of making it must not be too great. Third, it must be really nutritious and healthful. Fourth, it must be in a form that it could be easily served, and kept hot without loss of flavor. Fifth, it must suit the popular taste enough to be salable."
One of the first things accomplished by the New England Kitchen was the making of beef broth from the cheaper cuts of meat which was unvarying in nutriment and flavor. To this end the broth was frequently analyzed under the supervision of Mrs. Richards at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
More than twenty experiments were tried in its preparation, and one gets the best idea of the care which these college women took to have every scientific principle of soup-making carried out by quoting from the first report published: "The old-fashioned method of making soup in a pot on the stove was tried, and given up; the use of a Papin soup digester was no more satisfactory, the difficulty of regulating the heat and of retaining the flavors of the meat being found to be insurmountable. Gas or oil used under a pot gave little better satisfaction, the bottom being always hotter than the top, and the loss of heat from the whole surface proving wasteful. The labor of making soup by these methods was considerable, and it required the constant supervision of an experienced hand; moreover, no way could be devised for making large quantities at a time. Along with these experiments went others with the Aladdin oven, which were so promising in their results that we had tin-lined copper vessels made to utilize the entire capacity of the oven—i. e., thirty quarts—and settled on this method for making the broth. It was found to have these advantages: First, it made the scientific requirements for soup-making possible—i. e., (a) long, slow heating before the coagulating point was reached; (b) the continuation of the cooking at a temperature slightly below the boiling point, and long enough to get from the bones and tendons that proportion of gelatin which we knew to be desirable; (c) the retention of the full flavor; and (d) the production of a soup almost invariable in quality. Second, the greatest possible amount of broth was in this way obtained from a given quantity of meat and bones, no other process approaching it in this respect. Third, the labor involved was very small; nothing, in fact, between the placing of the vessel in the oven and removing it for straining. It suited our convenience also, in that the cooking could be done at night, the meat being prepared during the day; and although the lamp under the oven went out some hours before the soup could be strained, the nonconducting character of the apparatus kept the heat, and prevented any deterioration of the soup. Fourth, the cost of fuel was reduced to a minimum, twenty-five quarts of soup being made with three pints of kerosene, at a cost of less than five cents."
Mrs. Abel says in her little pamphlet. The Story of the New England Kitchen, after giving an account of their experience in soup-making, and final use of the Aladdin oven for that purpose: "This method, with very slight changes, has been in constant use in the kitchen, and has proved perfectly satisfactory. We consider it a real discovery of great value, and we hope it will in time be adopted in large institutions. Its success, like that of every other method we have used, is based upon the most careful study of every detail, and constant vigilance to see that every part is carried out."
This outline of the basis upon which all food is prepared in the New England Kitchen gives us a fair idea of the training which was necessary to these women before they could inaugurate such a work, and to what eminently practical and philanthropic use they have put it.
After the first seven months during which Mrs. Abel was there, the kitchen has been in charge of Miss Sarah E. Wentworth, a graduate of Vassar College, Mrs. Richards continuing her supervision.
That the success of the kitchen is acknowledged is shown by the "procession of pitchers, pails, and cans brought by men, women, and children of many nationalities, for pea soup or beef stew, as a witness to the fact that a really good food is appreciated and will be purchased." It is also shown by the respect and authority which it has attained in scientific circles as well as others. The Board of Education of Boston requested that the kitchen furnish the luncheons at the nine high schools, which it has done for some time, with the most marked results in the cultivation of proper appetites. The boy who formerly brought a lunch prepared with much maternal devotion, of mince pie, pickles, and cake, now of his own accord pays five cents for four large slices of bread and butter and a cup of cocoa.
The Institute of Technology lunch room is also supplied from this place, making in all about sixteen hundred people who are daily supplied with standard foods as defined by Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Abel, while those who buy from the counter and eat at the lunch room of the kitchen will easily make the number two thousand.
Other kitchens have already been started upon the plan of the New England Kitchen—Chicago, Philadelphia, and Xew York each having similar ones.
It is not too much to expect to see in a few years such kitchens in every large city in our Union, all the outcome of the practical application of the scientific training of two college women to the betterment of, primarily, the physical condition of their fellow-creatures, and, secondarily, their mental and moral condition.
In October, 1890, while yet busy with the development of scientific principles in connection with the New England Kitchen, Mrs. Richards wrote a forceful paper urging upon college women the study of domestic science. In this paper, which was published for the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, she says: What is our education worth to us if we can not order our houses in peace and comfort? You say, 'Modern life makes so many demands upon us.' True; but no demand can supersede that of home. . . . Let each young college graduate begin her housekeeping in a simple way, feeling keenly that all her future happiness and the welfare of her family depend on the thoroughness with which she masters at the very beginning the essentials of a home.
"But not only in her own home is there a call for this knowledge of the fundamental principles of healthful living and domestic economy. In all work for the amelioration of the condition of mankind, philanthropic and practical, there must be a basis of knowledge of the laws and forces which science has discovered and harnessed for our use."
In alluding to the New England Kitchen she says: "In this experiment the training of the college woman showed. No mere enthusiasm would have patiently waited, understanding that success is reached only through failure and after a most careful study of every detail, and is maintained only by constant vigilance."
Urging the study of domestic science in colleges, she says: "First, the subject should be put in the college curriculum on a par with the other sciences, and as a summing up of all the science teaching of the course, for chemistry, physics, physiology, biology, and especially bacteriology, are all only the stepping-stones of sanitary science.
"Therefore, in the junior or senior year, after the student has a good groundwork of these sciences, there should be given a course of at least two lectures a week, and four hours of practical work.
"The lectures should treat of—
"1. The house and its foundations and surroundings from a sanitary as well as an architectural standpoint.
"2. The mechanical apparatus of the house, heating, lighting, ventilation, drainage, etc., including methods of testing their efficiency.
"3. Furnishing and general care of a house, including what might be called applied physiology, chemistry of food and nutrition, and the chemistry of cleaning.
"4. Food and clothing of a family.
"5. Relation of domestic service to the general question of labor, with a discussion of present conditions and proposed reforms.
"The practical work should include:—
"1. Visits of inspection, accompanied by the instructor, to houses in process of construction, of good and bad types, both old and new.
"2. Visits to homes where the housekeeper has put in practice some or all of the theories of modern sanitary and economic living.
"3. Conferences with successful and progressive housekeepers.
"4. Practical work and original investigation in the laboratory of sanitary chemistry."
This was the outline originally prepared by Miss Talbot, and describes the course as she gave it at Wellesley in 1891 and 1892, entering upon her work there at about this time.
To show the respect which Mrs. Richards's attainments as a scholar and scientist have won with the world, as well as giving added significance to the fact of her doing so much in the field of domestic science. The Outlook for September, 1897, is quoted: "Her contributions to science have placed her at the head of the domestic science department of one of the leading educational institutions of the country, and have established her as an authority in her own field, a woman whose advice, investigations, and decisions are accepted by the leading scientists and authorities."
Mrs. Richards and Miss Talbot have made themselves felt in connection with this work in still another direction. In the University of Chicago, domestic science is not only taught but practiced. When Mrs. Alice Freeman Palmer and Miss Marion Talbot consented to go there as deans of the woman's department, it was with the understanding that they should have an opportunity to carry out their convictions that college trustees and professors have done their whole duty by their students only when they see that they are properly fed as well as properly taught. Accordingly, when the three halls for the accommodation of the women students were completed, they undertook, with Mrs. Ellen H. Richards as expert adviser, to furnish a dietary which should be kept within a certain cost, be of the best quality, prepared in the best manner, and at the same time furnish the known scientific requirements of proper nutrition. To this end an analysis was made of every article of food proposed, and a careful record kept of the number of pounds purchased, its price, and chemical value in proteids, or the nitrogen and tissue furnishing properties; the fats needed for fatty tissues and fuel; and the carbohydrates serving principally as fuel, but all three furnishing energy in the form of heat and capacity for work estimated carefully as so many calories.
Every day's menu was planned with direct reference to supplying the chemical requirements in their proper proportions, at the same time meeting the other stated requirements.
The results have been most satisfactory in that the family were well fed, and that nearly all gained in weight and in general physical condition while expressing great interest and approval of the experiment. Financially the experiment was also most satisfactory, showing how the price fixed for board, three dollars and a half, is proportioned among the different items entering into its cost. The tables prepared during the long and careful scientific investigation concerning this dietary are also a most valuable contribution as a basis for further experiment, both public and private.
The most of this work has been and is now continuing under the direction of Dean Marion Talbot.
The other dean of the woman's department of Chicago University, Alice Freeman Palmer, a graduate of Michigan University, and later the honored president of Wellesley College, afterward, as one of its trustees, was chiefly instrumental in having the new science introduced there. Later she has been lending her strength to this subject as a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education; as president of the Woman's Education Association of Boston, which last year had an important exhibit of domestic art and science, and which now has a strong committee on domestic science; as a member of the committee on domestic service investigation of the Boston branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ; in introducing something of this work into the vacation schools in Cambridge. She is also identified with the movement in Boston to introduce domestic science into public and private schools and colleges, and which last fall established a school of domestic service to attack the problem in another way. That band of twelve college women who organized the Sanitary Science Club in November, 1883, builded better than they knew.
While some of our college women have given so much thought and effort to secure nutritious and attractive diet for those under their charge, who in turn will go out and preach this new gospel of right living, other college women are teaching scientific cookery directly.
Miss Lucy C. Andrews, a B. A. from Michigan University, studied cooking at Purdue University and the New York Cooking School, and has taught the subject for the last seven years by giving demonstration lectures and holding practice classes for ladies, house servants, shop girls, and children. She has also worked to promote the interests of domestic science in schools.
Dr. Helen Putnam, president of the Collegiate Alumnæ of the woman's department of Brown University, gave in November, 1893, a series of lectures on Cooking for the Sick, at the first food exhibition ever held in Providence. The Collegiate Alumnæ of her university attended as special guests, as also undergraduates (women), with professors and friends, the superintendent of nurses with a corps of nurses from the Rhode Island Hospital, and many of the school committee of the city and members of the State Board of Education.
Who can overestimate the results when this college woman so clothed her subject with dignity and interest that it commanded the attention of such a body of distinguished listeners? Still others are teaching cooking in schools and colleges in connection with other branches of the subject.
The agricultural colleges are making rapid strides in developing this science. The Agricultural College of Kansas has been one of the pioneers in this direction.
Mrs. Nellie Sawyer Kedzie, a daughter-in-law of the eminent chemist, Prof. Robert Kedzie of the Agricultural College of Michigan, first graduated from the college to which she returned to inaugurate the department of domestic science, remaining for fifteen years. She has now been called to continue the same work in the Bradley Polytechnic Institute of Peoria, Illinois, an institution liberally endowed and wide in its scope.
The Kansas Agricultural College has had its department of domestic science so well equipped and so ably conducted by Mrs. Kedzie since 1882 that it has furnished the model for many Western colleges. The work has been so popular there that the Kansas Legislature has appropriated sixteen thousand dollars for a special domestic economy building, which is shortly to be completed.
Mrs. Helen Campbell goes to take Mrs. Kedzie's place from the University of Wisconsin, where she had already done brilliant work as a teacher in household economics. During many years she had given the brilliancy of her pen to books in this field, as well as in others. Some of them are: The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking, In Foreign Kitchens, The What-to-do Club, a story for girls, Woman Wage Earners, and her twelve lectures called Household Economics, given at the University of Wisconsin, have been published and most warmly received.
Other agricultural colleges are working along these lines. Iowa has a fine equipment in the food laboratory or kitchen in charge of Miss Gertrude Coburn, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College. North and South Dakota have valuable courses in domestic science; also Fort Collins, Colorado; the Storrs Agricultural College, Connecticut; and the Michigan Agricultural College, where the course is in charge of Miss Edith F. McDermott, a graduate of Drexel Institute.
Quite possibly they have done so much in the direction of this science, realizing the criticism of Mrs. Ellen H. Richards. She says there are some fifty agricultural colleges and experiment stations in the United States, costing many millions of money, for the study of the food of pigs, cows, and horses. A cow is worth, perhaps, on an average, fifty dollars. It is important that she should be well fed, so that the most may be made of her capabilities. A man is worth three thousand dollars to three hundred thousand dollars, measured by his capabilities, salary, etc. (Five per cent of three thousand dollars equals one hundred and fifty dollars, the salary of a very ignorant man; five per cent of thirty thousand dollars equals fifteen hundred dollars, a common salary of teachers; while fifteen thousand dollars is the common salary of a skilled engineer.) We send our young men to college to be fitted for thirty-thousand-dollar teachers and three-hundred-thousand-dollar engineers, and we take less care of their food than does the farmer of his fifty-dollar cow.
That there is a strong demand for courses in which the study of chemistry shall be applied to food, economics of the household, and its kindred subjects, is evinced by the number of colleges where these subjects are now taught. This age is awakening to the fact that women need special opportunities as women; and after the first blind rush for equal opportunities with men for higher education, it is demanding courses of instruction which shall include full credit-earning courses in that combination of sciences which is woman's own.
Important coeducational institutions besides Chicago University give instruction now in domestic science, while others are considering the matter. Wisconsin State University has already been mentioned. The Leland Stanford, Jr., University has lately done admirable work under the able direction of Mrs. Mary Roberts Smith, a graduate of Cornell, and for some years professor of history at Wellesley College. These, with the Boston Institute of Technology and Ohio State University, are a few which have already been teaching the subject, while inquiries are continually coming from many more, as well as from large seminaries.
Many collegiate institutions, such as Drexel Institute, Pratt Institute, and Armour Institute, have given the subject careful attention for a number of years. Even in high schools and grammar schools this work is making its way. To-day a study of cooking is required of every girl in the Boston common schools, as well as in other schools in Massachusetts. In the Providence Manual Training High School, Miss Abbie L. Marlatt, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College, conducts a most admirable course in domestic science, covering a period of four years. In the Brookline (Massachusetts) public schools, Mrs. Alice P. Norton, a graduate of Smith College, has arranged and conducts a comprehensive course of study in this department, beginning with the sixth grade and continuing through the high school. This course, as arranged and conducted by her, is a good example of what might be done in the public schools of every city, without crowding out anything of importance or overburdening the pupils. In the sixth grade, where it begins, it only occupies one hour per week; in the seventh and eighth grades, two hours per week; and in the ninth, one hour per week.
The course is systematic and comprehensive,with the general care of the house in the sixth grade and progressing to food principles taught with practical tests in a way to become ineradicably fixed in the young mind. For instance, the effect of different temperatures upon albuminous foods and upon starchy foods, with practical illustrations of albuminous cookery and starch cookery, are given, as also tests for proteid, starch, and sugar. Each step forward in the study of the chemistry of foods is always illustrated by the cooking of some dish.
In Brookline, when the pupil reaches the high school, she has already been instructed in many more things concerning the house and the preparation of food, with the reason why, than the majority of young ladies know when they enter upon the life occupation of mistress of a home.
In the high school this instruction is still further continued to include general chemistry, with special reference to its household application, sanitation, domestic art, clothing, household biology, problems of the home, including the place of the home in society, household management, and domestic service.
Thus this college woman is impressing herself upon the future by realizing in a practical, comprehensive way that the time and place to get a right knowledge of home making, based upon the latest and best gleaned from many fields, is at that time of their lives when our future home makers are to be reached collectively, and when they are at a good age to receive such instruction, being comparatively undistracted by other occupations and preconceived ideas. Acting upon these convictions, other college women have been active in the attempt to introduce various branches of the new science into the public schools of their cities, among which may be mentioned Buffalo, Cambridge, and Detroit.
In Boston, college women have applied sanitary science directly to the public schools, as well as helping to secure it in the course of instruction. During 1895 a committee of five, constituted by the Boston branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, investigated the sanitary conditions of the public schools and achieved most noteworthy results. This committee consisted of Mrs. Alice Upton Pearmain, then president of the Boston branch, and now president of the general association; Mrs, Ellen H. Richards, Mrs. Alice P Norton, Miss E. May Dame, and Miss Helena S. Dudley, then head worker of the Boston College Settlement.
One hundred and ninety-three schools of the different grades were investigated. Among them some were found to be entirely unfit for school purposes, a number being unworthy the expense of repairs, others being hired rooms in old dwellings, and one school even being in the basement of a grocery store.
While a grant had been asked and obtained from the Legislature for two million dollars for new buildings, it was found that there were already about seven thousand unoccupied seats in the schools.
In one school the lighting was found to be so bad that eight cases of inflammation of the eyes were sent to the hospital for treatment in one month, while ventilation from within was unworthy of mention, and impossible from without, because of the constant noise from chopping in the wood yard close by, and because of odors from the old-style vaults in the yard and from a near stable containing eighty or ninety horses.
Such conditions were by no means exceptional. Indeed, inadequate heating apparatus, lack of ventilation (eighty per cent of the methods of ventilation not working well), bad odors, and insufficient light were found to exist in the majority of buildings.
Very indefinite rules were also found regulating janitors' duties, with the result that in nearly half of the buildings rooms were dusted only once a week with a feather duster, disinfectants were used in only fifty-seven schools, and the floors in fifty-nine schools had never been washed since built in a period of years ranging from fifty to five years.
This committee has had the satisfaction of securing reform in nearly every instance which was a matter of domestic science, while others requiring legislative enactment are pending.
Such and many more similar instances of the unsanitary conditions of the schools, brought to the attention of those in authority and the public, prove the painstaking thoroughness with which these women applied this branch of the domestic science to their great task.
College women are working along the lines of the new science in organizations not distinctively their own, such as the Boston Woman's Educational and Industrial Union, which depends upon them for the strength and inspiration to make its work effective, A college woman is upon its board of directors, a graduate of Wellesley has made the investigations in shops and factories regarding the relation of domestic service to work in those places, a Radcliffe student represents its Domestic Reform League in the Domestic Bureau, while its School of Housekeeping has lectures from Prof. Lucy M. Salmon, of Vassar College, Mrs. Alice P. Norton, and Prof. Katherine Coman, of Wellesley College.
So naturally and forcefully do the problems of the house and home appeal to college women, first because they are women, and secondly because their training makes them ready to attack problems in a scientific way, that one of them, Miss Lucy M. Salmon, an M. A. from Michigan University, lent the particular trend of her mind as professor of history in Vassar College to the historical side of the subject. The painstaking labor given is shown in that the basis of her book was the information obtained through answers to five thousand blanks sent out by her during 1889 and 1890. Her valuable volume, Domestic Service, was finally published in the spring of 1897.
Her hope that "the tabulation and presentation of the facts will afford a broader basis for a general discussion than has been possible without them; that a knowledge of the conditions of domestic service beyond their own localities and households will enable some housekeepers in time to decide more easily the economic questions arising within every home; that it will do a little something to stimulate discussion of the subject on other bases than the purely personal one," has been promptly realized in one distinguished instance at least, since the Boston branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ has been making this year a scientific study of the subject of domestic service, with her book as the basis for preliminary work, recommending it as "the most careful scientific investigation of the subject up to date."
The American Kitchen Magazine shows how college women are giving of their best to put before the public scientific and practical knowledge upon all matters pertaining to the home. Home is the magnet to which their thoughts and efforts are continually drawn. Frequent contributors to this publication are Mrs. Mary Roberts Smith, Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, Miss Lucy C. Andrews, Dr. Mary E. Greene, president of the National Household Economic Association, Mrs. Helen Campbell, Mrs. Mary Hinman Abel, Miss Edith F. McDermott, Mrs. Alice P. Norton, and others, in such papers as Household Labor as Exercise, Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning, Southern Prize Recipes, and an appeal to girls to learn housework rather than shop or factory work.
The idea of duty and obligation to give to others less fortunate something from the riches of opportunity and training enjoyed by college women so impressed itself upon the mind of a graduate of Smith College, Miss Vida D. Scudder, that she succeeded in imbuing the minds of six other graduates of that institution with her own conviction. Her plan was to establish a home in the midst of a densely populated, ignorant, and wicked district, from which they could reach the homes of their neighbors and add something of pleasure and knowledge to their dull lives full of ignorance and vice.
To these young college girls, the value of a home appeared so great as a nucleus for far-reaching philanthropic work, as the most practical kind of a starting point for anything of value which they could give or receive, that they determined to make one in the worst part of New York city.
Upon maturing their plans, they moved into quarters at 95 Rivington Street in September, 1889, a locality, according to Frances J. Dyer, "said to be more densely populated than any part of London. One half of all arrests for gambling and one tenth of all arrests for crime in New York come within the limits of the election precinct in which they (the residents) live. Five churches vainly try to meet the spiritual needs of fifty thousand people, and there is one saloon for every hundred inhabitants. These facts sufficiently indicate the character of the neighborhood in which these young collegiates, representing the highest type of American womanhood, elect to spend a portion of their time." The steady growing and remarkable results following the efforts of these young college women would furnish material for a volume. From this beginning other college settlements have followed upon the same basis—that one must take to the people what one has for them.
The Alumnæ House Settlement of the New York Normal College opened at 446 East Seventy-second Street, New York city, in 1894; the Philadelphia College Settlement opened at 617 Carver Street in April, 1892; the Boston College Settlement opened at 93 Tyler Street, January, 1893; while many others have followed, fathered by coeducational institutions, such as the University of Chicago Settlement, started in January, 1894, at 4655 Gross Avenue; the Northwestern University Settlement, opened in 1891, at 26 Rice Street, Chicago; and a Log Cabin Settlement, opened in a very small place in the mountains of North Carolina in March, 1895.
In every one of these, the home element is the main idea. Thus the Northwestern University Settlement reports, "The character of the work has been to exalt the home and increase the pleasures of the home makers." The New York Settlement reports in connection with its kindergarten work, "The second year of the kindergarten work has made us realize more deeply than ever how natural and vital is this way of reaching the homes and the confidences of our neighbors." The Mothers' Club of the Boston Settlement has had instruction concerning the sanitary conditions of the neighboring homes, while Dr. Mary Hobart talked to it of proper food for babies, and Mrs. Alice P. Norton has directed the mothers in cutting and making various garments.
The work of college women for the settlements, and through them for better home making, is not confined to settlement residents, as large financial aid has been given all the college settlements by the undergraduates and alumnæ of the twelve or more important colleges for women in the East.
The undergraduates of Smith, Swarthmore, the Woman's College of Baltimore, and Bryn Mawr have assisted the residents of the Philadelphia Settlement in many ways; while Barnard, Elmira, and Packer students consider the New York Settlement as their care, and Wellesley and Radcliffe girls are very helpful at the Boston Settlement.
That the value of a knowledge and practical application of the principles of domestic science as a great factor in the leavening of the community about them is never lost sight of is shown in the establishment by the Philadelphia Settlement of a kitchen and coffee house in the fall of 1895 at the southwest corner of Seventh and Lombard Streets. This was started upon much the same lines as the New England Kitchen, and with the same primary objects—"to furnish to our neighborhood, through the kitchen, nutritious food, properly cooked, at the lowest price consistent with a narrow margin of profit, and to offer, through the coffee house, a clean, cheerful place, free from all objectionable features, where a comfortable lunch or meal might be had at reasonable rates." The expectations in regard to the success of this project have been fully realized, it having been found, as in the case of the New England kitchens in Boston and New York, that "where food can be as easily obtained as drink, many a man will take the food in preference." The number of penny lunches sold during the first year was 21,332, and the number of meals served during June alone was 2,928.
In the Boston Settlement domestic science is used as a means to its ends in the support of mothers' clubs, a kitchen garden for girls of fourteen and another for girls of eight to ten, a mothers' cooking class in the homes, besides classes in sewing. In fact, in all the settlements this work with the mothers and children, and through them for the homes, is one of the most important.
One young college woman. Miss Alberta Thomas, of the domestic science department of Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, has had the needs of students who wish to board themselves particularly in mind, and has invented an oven upon the principle of the Aladdin oven, which she declares that a housekeeper could improvise with boxes from the grocers. The long cooking necessary makes the food easy to digest and cheap pieces of meat palatable, and also makes possible the leaving of puddings, meats, and vegetables many hours without attention, which is so valuable to the student who is often away many hours at a time. She has lately been experimenting with various menus for breakfast, luncheon, and dinner which will be appetizing, contain the necessary amount of nutriment, and give the student but little trouble to prepare, and which can be supplied for one dollar and a half per week.
Not long ago Mrs. Eliza R. Sunderland, a Ph. D. from Michigan University and a Unitarian minister of great ability, reminded her large audience of women that their chief interests must, in the majority of cases, ever center about the home; that women are the natural home makers, and that any system of education which lost sight of this fact was incomplete.
Thus, by addressing popular audiences, by writing magazine articles and books, by demonstration lectures upon the science and art of cookery, by teaching the subject in high schools, grammar schools, and colleges, by the establishment of depots for the sale of scientifically prepared as well as savory food, by practically demonstrating her knowledge in different ways in the homes of her poor neighbors in connection with college settlements, by working upon practical problems connected with domestic science in strong committees connected with education associations and branches of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, and in many other ways do we find the college woman working in the field of domestic science, reaching thousands of homes and home makers. All her intellectual training, which it has been feared might divert her energies from home duties which by nature and opportunity she is especially fitted to discharge, has but made her the more eager to discharge them, but with a new and different interest, along better lines thought out as a natural consequence of her new opportunities.
We are getting beyond the day when instinct and Providence were expected to do duty for definite knowledge and special training in the business of home making. The college woman is giving us methods as a permanent basis for results, and with that largeness of vision and special understanding born of her special opportunities, yet true to her woman's instinct, which nothing can eradicate, has seen what might be bettered, and is bettering it in that place which is most potent for all that is good or evil in life—the home.