Edna L. Skinner Papers, 1930-1997

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Scope and Contents Note:

Four items of printed material, including a pamphlet describing the Home Economics Program at M.A.C., 1930; a 1934 newspaper article featuring Skinner on the importance of home economics training for women; a 1988 exhibition program celebrating her life and work; and retrospectives on Skinner published in UMASS magazine, 1997.

Biographical Note:

Edna L. Skinner was born in Michigan in 1880.  She received the B.Ed. from Michigan State Normal College and both the B.S. and M.A. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University.  From 1908 to 1912, Skinner taught at Teachers College, then headed the Department of Household Science at James Milliken University in Illinois, and taught two summers at the University of California.  In 1918, when she was Director of Homemaking at Pine Manor College in Wellesley, she was hired as Professor of Home Economics and Head of that new program at Massachusetts Agricultural College by its ninth President, Kenyon Butterfield.  Under her leadership, the program became a department in 1924, a division in 1930, and a separate school in 1945, with Skinner as Dean.  Throughout her 27-year career at Massachusetts, her appointment also carried the title Advisor of Women.  She retired in 1946 just as work was about to begin on her long-cherished and hard-fought-for goal of a single building to house the Home Economics program.  Skinner died in Amherst in 1958.

Related Materials:

  • RG 30/3 - Dean of Women Helen Curtis (includes records pertaining to Skinner's work as Advisor of Women which predate Curtis' tenure as Dean)
  • Book co-authored by Skinner (available in DuBois Library):
    • Groves, Ernest R., Edna L. Skinner, and Sadie J. Swenson. The Family and Its Relationships.  Chicago: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1941.


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“Instruction in Home Economics”
Pamphlet describing Division of Home Economics at MAC
The Boston Herald
“Educator Says Woman, Not Man, Sets Cultural Level of Family Life”
1934 December 9
“Recognizing Relevance: Edna L. Skinner and Women’s Work, 1919-1946”
Program from exhibit at University of Massachusetts
1988 Oct. 11 – Oct. 15
Letters to the editor regarding previous issue’s article on Skinner
1997 Fall

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