30 Fascinating Vintage Photographs of Girls Home Economics Classes From Between the 1920s and 1950s

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Many people argue that home economics classes are an outdated, patriarchal set of skills women were forced to learn back in the day that have no place in our modern, feminist school systems.

After all, the modern woman can buy her own clothes, pop dinner into a microwave, throw her laundry into a washing machine, and go out in the world to pursue whatever career she wants. However, the whole point of home economics classes of the past was to equip young people with the practical skills they needed to live life as independent adults.

In her article Bring back home ec!, Ruth Graham traces the trajectory of home economics classes throughout the 20th century. They have gone from being “rooted in progressive and even feminist thinking” (ca. 1899) to being “combat troops against malnutrition” during the Depression. In the 1950s, teachers became salespeople for convenience foods. By the 1960s-70s, the crucial knowledge taught in home economics class had become conventional knowledge and no longer seemed necessary. People also didn’t like thinking that home economics class simply prepared young women for marriage, which is understandable.

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