Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, History (HEARTH)
Created and maintained by the Mann Library at Cornell University.
Reviewed Aug. 18–Sept. 18, 2005.
Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, History (HEARTH) is an important new online collection of books and journals published in the field of home economics during the period 1850 to 1950. The Mann Library at Cornell University created and maintained the site and also hosts From Domesticity to Modernity: What was Home Economics?.
As Martin Heggestad, a bibliographer, writes in the introductory essay to the site, researchers in women’s history are beginning to reevaluate home economics, “developing an understanding of it as a profession that, although in some ways conservative in its outlook, opened up opportunities for women and had a broad impact on American society.” The archived sources support this assertion. Texts such as Ellen Richards’s Air, Water, and Food from a Sanitary Standpoint (1900) illustrate the field’s early emphasis on “scientific housekeeping,” household efficiency, and the professionalization of homemaking skills. In order to demonstrate the range and breadth of the field, the site archived a broad array of sources, from works on architecture to child psychology textbooks to published surveys of wage-earning women.
HEARTH offers researchers two ways to search its 1,003 volumes of book or 222 volumes of journals: a subject search or a browse function. On the subject search page, the viewer may search by title, name, or in the full text. Search results include hyperlinks to a publication’s table of contents or a view of the first page. Researchers may, at this point, add the publication to a “bookbag.” The bookbag opens in a new window, with a hyperlink to the archived publication. The useful browse function offers a complete bibliography of all available texts organized alphabetically by title and also by date of publication. Journals are listed by titles, and journal articles alphabetically by author. The search functions are intelligently designed and easily utilized.
On a separate page, HEARTH provides a list of subjects in the collection, such as “Clothing and Textiles,” "Home Management,“ and ”Teaching and Communications." Each subject includes an introductory essay and a full bibliography on the topic. The page helpfully notes the file size of each portable document format (PDF)-formatted bibliography. These bibliographies are thorough and would be of interest to both accomplished scholars and undergraduates. Be aware, however, that the bibliographies are not bibliographies of texts archived on the site, and there are no hyperlinks on the bibliography pages.
Undergraduates in history and women’s studies will find ample opportunity here to expand their understanding of the field via a study of primary sources. HEARTH is also a valuable archival source for scholars, who can quickly and easily access complete copies of important books and journals—and these texts are completely scanned in, so all details of even the oldest texts are available online. Of special note, HEARTH provides immediate access to articles in relevant journals that are not easily available elsewhere, such as the Journal of Home Economics (1909–1980), the American Food Journal (1913–1928), and like Journal of Social Hygiene (1914–1954). Judicious and appropriate use of graphics complement the site, and sound scholarship shapes the entire project, from the selection of sources to the clear and well-written essays and bibliographies.
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