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Our Heritage Library

The Stories

Facts are fine: K-State was founded in 1863, Margaret Justin was dean from 1923 to 1954, Human Ecology offers 16 different undergraduate degrees.

Stories are better.

Our sesquicentennial library holds the keys to both.

  • Industrialists Not ButterfliesVirginia Railsback Gunn published "Industrialists Not Butterflies: Women's Higher Education at Kansas State Agricultural College, 1873-1882" in Kansas History 18 (Spring 1995): 2-17. In the article, she elaborates on Kansas State's pioneering role in the field of domestic science or "household economy." She focuses on several personalities who shaped women's higher educational experience, notably KSAC President John A. Anderson and faculty members Hattie Cheseldine, Mary E. Cripps, and Nellie Sawyer Kedzie.

    Her dissertation at the University of Akron was "Educating Strong Womanly Women: Kansas Shapes the Western Home Economics Movement, 1860-1914." She graduated with a degree in home economics education from K-State in 1961.

  • Nellie Sawyer Kedzie Jones, pioneer in the field of domestic science, told the famous biscuit story in her own words in a story she wrote for the K-Stater alumni magazine in October 1954. She ended her story with humility and wisdom: "As I look back to the beginning work my girls did in the colleges, with the little I had to give them, I think God's hand was in the work; the world was ready for it."

    She was graduated from K-State with a B.S. degree in 1876 and an M.S. in 1878. She became the first female professor at K-State and the first to have a building named in her honor.

  • Throughout its 140-year history, College of Human Ecology leaders have made contributions that put K-State on the national map:

    • In 1873, K-State established the first for-credit academic program in the field in a land-grant institution. It became the national model for curriculum and facilities.

    • Nellie Kedzie lobbied for the first building ever constructed specifically to house human ecology students. In 1889, Domestic Science Hall (now Kedzie Hall) housed the Department of Household Economy and Domestic Science.

    • Dean Margaret Justin increased the number of departments offering graduate degrees and, in 1975, added a Ph.D. in home economics.

    This "Legacy of Leadership" is the focus of a book by Carol Kellett, professor and former dean. "It looks at the people – the deans and directors – who made the college a success," she said. It is adapted from her scholarly work-in-progress about the history of the College of Human Ecology to be published next year. Alexandria Teagarden, a 2010 graduate, worked on the project.

    The 60-page volume contains nearly 200 photographs taken between 1873 and 2010. Copies of the book are available for $25 by contacting Debby Hiett at hiett@k-state.edu.