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Family and Consumer Scientists

History

The field of family and consumer science—or domestic science, as it was called—developed in the late 1800s, as more women began to pursue education. By 1890 the subject was taught in most public schools, colleges, and universities. The most important step in the establishment of this field was the Morrill Act of 1862, which made possible the land-grant colleges, where family and consumer science achieved much of its growth and stature through research, teaching, and extension services. Many of these colleges still refer to these programs as home economics.

In 1909, the American Home Economics Association was founded to represent the interests of professionals in the field. Today, it is known as the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. The association represents more than 7,000 family and consumer scientists.

Today the field of family and consumer science has expanded into every segment of family life. Families look to the family and consumer scientist for expert advice through consumer magazines, radio and television programs, Web sites, home bureaus, university extension centers, and adult education courses. Experts in this field teach such diverse subjects as nutrition, child development, and family finances. Many others work to improve consumer products.