Borrowed Babies, Revisited

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Home Economics House 1953.jpgI was delighted to receive this photo from Theresa McDevitt, a Libraries faculty member, a few weeks ago. She sent it as a homecoming greeting, but she also knows that in 1995 I wrote a story for IUP Magazine about the Home Management House.

The story was called "Borrowed Babies," and you can read it, thanks to an effort by the Libraries'  Special Collections and Archives Department. Harrison Wick and colleagues have made a decent effort to scan IUP publications of the past and make them accessible through Archive.org.

But, you probably chose to open this post because of its title, so let me explain. From the early 1910s to the 1960s, Home Economics majors at IUP had a semester-long immersion experience in Home Management House, which was located on a street that no long exists near Cogswell Hall. In addition to keeping the house in operation in the spirit of any modern-day domestic engineer, the students also cared for a baby lent to them by a nearby orphanage. Hence, the reference in the photo to Rodger--the baby who resided in Home Management House in fall, 1953 (Rodger says, "It's time for a change. Beat California"). After the story ran in the magazine, we received many letters to the editor from alumnae who had nothing but wonderful things to say about the experience, who wondered what had happened to the babies they cared for, and who wanted to share their memories with others. Still, isn't it difficult to believe?

Fast forward to 2011, and we all know things are quite different today. We no longer have a Home Economics Education major, per se, but instead several majors entailing Family and Child Studies and Family and Consumer Sciences Education, both housed in the Human Development and Environmental Studies Department. All you have to do is take a look at that website to know we focus on modern issues, employ modern techniques, and that we're a long way from Home Management House.

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The sign was made by Anna Jane Shaulis in 1953.
Roger, the fellow who needs a change, was the baby who lived at the Home Management House. The photo was taken (and graciously given to us to scan) by Anita Malone. This information was provided by Sylvia Mitchell. We interviewed Malone and Mitchell a few years ago at an Alumni Weekend.

IUP Archives is always looking for interesting (and amusing) photos to add to our collection to document the fascinating history of student life on our campus.

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This page contains a single entry by Regan Houser published on October 18, 2011 11:07 AM.

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