The Latest Science—Housecraft


The Latest Science—Housecraft


The Latest Science—Housecraft


ACTION and being are forever acting and reacting upon one another, and it is not easy to trace the causes of any one effect.

Nor is it safe to attribute to any one cause any one effect. And especially is this so if the effect be a world-movement.

The claims of women to higher education have been acknowledged and met.

But their special training has remained “in the air” for a generation. We have had scientific training and technical training for every species of workers on earth, but mothers-mothers

who produce all other workers — but housewives, who care for all other workers.

None of the older economists recognized housework as productive, and the more modern ones have perpetuated the negligence. Every other sort of institution has been described by them with minuteness: the rise and fall of guilds and companies and measures and methods. But the vital spot whence all industrial effort is derived and where all wages are translated into expenditure has, by a curious irony, been overlooked.

But light has broken on the error.

At the present no economic truth has been more clearly enunciated, none more convincingly accepted, than the truth that the sanity and safety of state institutions rests upon and is inseparably connected with the sanity and safety of the people’s homes.

The movement for the application of the physical sciences to housekeeping probably had its roots in that earlier movement to arrest the decay of and revive the handicraft industries of women. This movement was contemporaneous in Great Britain, the United States and Canada, and was begun by a class of women of wealth and leisure who desired to put their ideals into practice.

The need of scientific training and technical education for women became apparent. Universities and laboratories either opened their doors, or paralleled their courses to women. Education became recognized as a preparation for life. The resources of every individual must be developed and organized to fit him to live in the world for the good of others, as

well as his own. So the new gospyl was disseminated !

Animated b y the new thought and freedom, an American school teacher named Ellen H. Swallow, began to apply herself to the study of chemistry. She graduated from Vassar and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1871 as a special student in that science. The legend is current that the suggestion of applying chemistry to the problems of housework originated with a taunt of the professor in chemistry that she could not make use of that science in the kitchen— the “kitchen,” of course, being in his contempt! The very taunt clarified her mind. She at once entered upon that career of research and application and teaching that has made her the patron saint of household science in America. In 1875 she married Robert H. Richards, professor of mining and engineering in the same institute. She became instructor in sanitary science and an authority in that science, specializing in water analysis. She was the author of many text-books on household science which bear the stamp of her exact and sagacious thought.

These find a place on the shelves of every woman who pretends to take an intelligent interest in living.

The evangel of the new gospel of housecraft in Canada was Mrs. Lillian Massey Treble, a woman of great wealth, serious views of her responsibility as a social factor, and indomitable e nthusiasm in en-

deavor to elevate homemaking to the realm of science and art. Her experiment was begun in the basement of the Frederic Victor Mission in King street, Toronto, erected as a memorial to her brother. Elementary classes were opened in 1896 and continued for a period of several years under competent instructors. In 1900 the school was moved upstairs into better quarters. Sympathetically and loyally supported in her philanthropic endeavor by Dr. Burwash, chancellor of Victoria College, Mrs. Treble succeeded in securing the endorsement of the Provincial Education Department in the movement.

Through her continued liberality normal classes were opened in 1902 under the direction of Miss Annie L. Laird. This course was of two years’ duration, and from it graduated a group of women since become distinguished in the professions and vocations which derive from household science.

It is with the personality and career of several individuals of this group that the present writing is principally concerned. As the significance of the work carried on by the Lillian Massey School of Household Science became accepted, a glorious scheme was shaped by Mrs. Treble and her adviser. This was the erection and endowment of a suitable building which might in time shelter a faculty of household science as a department of Toronto University. For several years Dr. Burwash battled without ceasing, or avail, for the academic recognition of household science. Behind him were the inspiration, wealth, liberality and enthusiasm of the gracious founder. And at length they succeeded. The magnificent building at the end of North Drive of University Park attests the fact. On the frieze over the pillared entrance is inscribed its name: Department of Household Science.

Mrs. Treble’s purpose has been expressed on the memorial tablet placed in the beautiful hallway which reads that she presented the building to the University of Toronto in order to promote the work of household science and thereby further the education of women. The building is claimed by her colleagues and students to be a

memorial also to another woman, unnamed on its walls, but to whose ardor and practical knowledge its perfection for its purpose is largely due—that is the associate professor of household science, Annie Lewisa Laird.

No one can persuade Miss Laird to talk of herself. Of her work, yes, but even of that in moderation. She is the living embodiment of the precept: Let another praise thee and not thine own lips.

A graduate dietitian assures me that “nothing escapes the attention of Professor Laird which will advance or enrich her work. She keeps in close touch with experimental science everywhere. Travel and observation in Europe and the United States during vacations prepare her anew every year to be the inspiration and executive head of the department. She was in Wurzburg, Bavaria, with her sister,^ Elizabeth Laird, who is professor of physics in Mount Holyoake College, when the war was precipitated last sum-

“My sister is a very clever and distinguished scientist,” the professor of household science admitted to me loyally.

“Both are true scientists,” m y prompter, the dietitian, declared.

“Our Miss Laird has the enthusiasm of a girl, along with the mental acumen of a trained expert.

She is wonderful in class. She finds out the individual need of every girl and tries to fill it.

That is her great quality—as an in dividual instructor and counsellor.

She has the knack of making her students realize their responsibilities in life. The letters she receives from her graduates are full of appreciation of this.”

The Lairds are Canadians, natives of Paris, Ont. Prof. Elizabeth Laird is a graduate of Toronto University in arts and a Ph.D. Miss Annie L. Laird, however, received her training in, and is a graduate of, the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. She returned to Canada in 1902 at the invitation of Mrs. Treble to take charge of the Lillian Massey School and has continued with the department under the rule of the University.

The present writer found her one evening last winter in her pleasant apartment in the buildings. Miss Laird is still a young woman, and of a very lovely presence, over medium height, with the gentle voice and manner associated with some strong and tenacious natures.

The curious visitor is tempted to adopt experimental science as a hobby on view-

ing the completely equipped laboratories. I found the associate professor of physiological chemistry at work in her fascinating department and disposed for an hour’s chat, which was extended into a discussion of Greek sculpture and architecture over the collection of prints Dr. Benson collected in Athens.

Clara Cynthia Benson, B.A., Ph.D., is one of Port Hope’s distinguished daughters, tall, handsome, capable, versatile, agreeable. She spoke feelingly of the gift of Mrs. Treble to woman’s education.

From the Woman’s Who’s Who in America it is learned that Dr. Benson graduated from Toronto University in 1899 and pursued post graduate work in chemistry there until 1903, when the degree of Ph.D. was conferred upon her, she and Miss Baker being the first to take the degree in Toronto. She followed the lamented Miss Edith Curzon as instructor in science in the Lillian Massey School, 1903-5, was lecturer in physiological chemistry in the same school, 1905-6, and appointed associate professor in the faculty when it became a department of the University in 1906. All students in the regular course pursue their studies in bio-chemistry under her direction. Replying to the present writer’s question as to the vocations open to women who specialize in chemistry, other than teaching it, she mentioned commercial chemistry. One of her students, Miss Ida Maclachlan, has specialized in food analysis, and after some experimental work in Ottawa, obtained a position with a man ufacturing firm in Philadelphia where she is achieving success. Positions for trained women as food analysts will in time be available in Canada. Dr. Benson is sanguine of the future.


Miss E. M. Eadie, the lecturer in household science in the department, was a most informing and helpful guide to the writer, her quick and sympathetic mind at once perceiving the sort of information desired. In her tasteful quarters in Howland avenue Miss Eadie is so entertaining B hostess that hours slip away unheeded. One is amazed at the time! The best and latest text books are on her shelves and presumably their matter contributes to the vitality of her lectures. Miss Eadie spent a year at King’s College for Women, University of London, Eng., and became interested in the economic side of household science. On

graduation in the Normal class under the Department of Education she was assigned to the organization of the School

of Household Science equipped by Mrs. Treble in connection with Mount Allison Ladies’ College, in Sackville, N.B., normal classes, formed under the domain of the Education Department of New Bruns-

Having fulfilled her mission there Miss Eadie after a stay of two years at Mount Allison returned to the staff of the Lillian Massey School, Miss Crewes taking her position. After her engagement she found that the Lillian Massey School had been adopted by the University and she took her place as a lecturer in the new faculty.

“We call it ‘household science,’ but I think it equally an art,” she said. “In England they have a better word—‘housecraft.’ In the States they call it ‘home economics.’ In London University the study is known as ‘household and social science.’ ”

It was Miss Eadie who called my attention to the remarkable career of Mrs. Richards, and to a singular experiment made in social economics in Boston in 1903-5, at her instance, by a group of interested women who formed themselves into the Household Aid Company and made an attempt at the solution of the servant problem. The report of the experiment and the conclusions reached form the first contribution to its subject

in the literature of social economics.

“In my Round Table discussions my students take up such questions as productive labor and productive consumption. Biology as applied to housework teaches us to expect results from household consumption. Proper housing, food, clothing, conditions, produce efficient citizens. I heard a woman say recently that she ‘had been cooking and cleaning all day and had nothing to show for it.’ Yet with her were her three healthy and wellgroomed children! Household expenditure is decidedly not final."

Miss Eadie does not favor the Edward Bellamy communal dining hall. She stands by the moral and aesthetic value of the family table.

“It’s a woman’s duty to see that her family is properly fed!” she declared.


“About the first of last May Professor Fitzgerald opened the department of hygiene in Toronto University under the direction of the Provincial Board of Health. About the same time a young girl, a resident of Vancouver, who had been pursuing the course in household science and had evinced a singular capacity for experimental work, purchased a ticket for home. She was on the eve of departure when she heard a rumor that one of the professors in chemistry required an assistant and would like a household science student. She missed her train while seeking to identify that professor, but was rewarded by an appointment from Prof. Fitzgerald on their first interview.

“She wanted a career,” declared her ‘fidus Achates’ Miss Florence Withrow, as she related the story.

“I wanted a job!” corrected Miss Leila Hanna with smiling decision.

Her small fair face and dainty figure give no hint of the weighty responsibility that rests upon her and demands the extremest accuracy in preparing the deadliest virus on earth.

Miss Hanna, I am told, was singled out for exceptional achievement while yet at Vancouver College. She won a scholar-

ship on matriculation in McGill University. Her scientific curiosity directed her to the study of chemistry, biology and physics. She even thought of medicine as a profession. But food analysis fascinated her most and, luckily, she was able to follow her inclinations. She took an elective course in household science.

“I knew how to do things in housework,” she said ardently, “but I wished to know why they should be done. I have had all these little things answered. Now I am deep in the study of antitoxins and the Pasteur treatment.

“Do you know that an American girl discovered the diphtheritic bacteria which is used all over the world? Yes, that’s

“A specialty of our department is making diphtheria antitoxin. I specialize in the Pasteur treatment. I took it myself. I was obliged to, and I am immune from rabies for a time. The virus is deadly.”

This young girl, with her childish fingers, to be familiar with such things!

As a particular personal favor Miss Hanna permitted me to call and see her in her laboratory. I found her clothed in

white linen, corking vials for the varying units of antitoxins. She laughed when I denominated her a “sorceress.” I glanced apprehensively at the outfit.

“There is nothing to be afraid of,” she

“We sacrifice one rabbit a week to keep the Pasteur treatment going,” and opening a cupboard she showed me a glass jar in which a pink filament hung suspended.

“That’s a rabbit’s spinal cord,” she said, “and it is full of virus. I cut off pieces and put them in sterile glycerine. On the eighth day the virus has lost most of its potency. When the treatment is wanted I take these pieces and pound them in a little mortar and send the potency desired over to Dr. Amyot’s department.”

Every vial is dated. It seemed so simple. Yet it represented the infinite labors, of the most eminent scientists, for many years, and the countless lives of animals sacrificed in experiment. She

lifted a huge jar of dark liquid, covered with froth.

“This is tetanous antitoxin.”

Still another.

This is diphtheria antitoxin.

She handled the awesome things with the air of one who looks death in the face every day fearlessly.

She showed me the neat boxes in which her assistants pack the vials securely after she has filled them with the various units.

“We sell this treatment throughout Canada and Newfoundland,” she said, “and have been able to reduce the price from $10 to $2 a treatment, and so greatly benefit the public. Some people imagine that in the reduction of cost we have sacrificed potency. But that is impossible. For the unit of diphtheria antitoxin is standardized and is the same the world over.”


I have at my hand the provisional prospectus of the department just begun in the University of Toronto, which offers courses in training in a field until recently left as completely to chance and instinct as that of the home has been. Instruction is offered through lectures, discussion and supervised field work, by specialists in all departments of social science—charities, recreation, child welfare and medical social service as well. A number of vocations for women will be derived from the training outlined. The course is one year. The course in household science is an ideal preparation for those who contemplate settlement work, but is in no sense obligatory. Miss Marjorie Gregg, who has just taken up residence in St. Christopher House Settlement, nevertheless regards that course as a necessary part of a woman’s training for neighborhood work. She is a Toronto girl and matriculated from Westminster College. She took the four-years’ course in household science, enjoying the full University life and has just graduated with an arts degree. Her class had the distinction of being the first to use the new building and she recalled

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that the girls were obliged to climb the fire-escape to reach their lecture rooms.

I asked her frankly what the financial outlook was in settlement work since the training for it had became so long and costly. She thought it fair.

Miss Gregg was confident of the great opening for girls in social service. It is a busy life and one of self-abnegation, but with youth, health, and a saving sense of humor the years to come are full of rich promise for her.

Perhaps the vocation most logically derived fi-om the study of household science is that of the dietitian. The demand for her up to the present far exceeds the supply and she prospers accordingly. Miss Eadie spent two years after her graduation as dietitian in the University Dining Hall. Her organizing and executive ability effected radical improvements in the sex-vice which her successor, Miss Violet M. Ryley, still speaks of with admiration.

“It simplified things for me,” she said.

Those who claim to know, however, tell me that some of the credit for the oiled

wheels on which the menage of the Dining Hall turn is due to Miss Ryley’s own consummate management.

System, from what I could gather in a morning’s visit, is the key to her success. Everything is systematized: from the buying of potatoes to the time-cards of the cleaners on the staff. She told me a delicious story which illustrates the spirit in which the untrained mind meets the scientific mind in the course of household management. She wrote a card of definite instructions for one of the cleaners, a probationer, assigning the time of his duties, which was posted in his department. Shortly afterwards her attention was attracted to the matter by the amusement of other members of the kitchen staff. On her first opportunity, therefore, and when alone, and dignity not in jeopardy, she examined the card in question, and read below her own directions a line in pencil reading: “During spare hours whitewash the coal!”

When we had stopped laughing I asked

her: “Did you abate the rigor of your régime in consequence?”

“Not a jot,” she said, “they must rise to my standard, or—depart.”

Midway between the main body of the University and the Legislative pile in the park, there has been rearing for several years the grey stone walls of a new building which promises to be of great solidity and beauty. Hart House, it is called, being a memorial to the late Hart Massey, and its cost will be over two million dollars. Its main part is a noble Gothic hall destined to be the refectory of the University. Under its roof provision will be made for the Y.M.C.A. and the Students’ Union, for a gymnasium, a billiard room, a shooting gallery, and most interesting of all, a perfectly appointed theatre where a national drama may yet be born.

At the present the authorities are contending with the difficulties of very cramped quarters in feeding the students, and Miss Ryley is serving on an average between 1,200 and 1,300 meals every school day in a space which provides for only 150 at one sitting. The students must be fed in relays which involves a serious loss of time to them, though it does not impair the service.

“The Dining Hall is not a money-making affair,” said Miss Ryley, “but it pays expenses.”

Her total expenditure last year was $33,000, nearly $23,000 of this being for food alone. The University gives the building—the old residence—and electric power and light. Miss Ryley and her staff of pupil dietitians live in the picturesque old quarters of the Dean. Twenty-one meals are served for $3.25, divided into strips of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, at an average cost of 15.4 cents per meal. What a skilled dietitian can accomplish in the way of satisfactory catering is proven by the increase in her patronage. Six years ago the average attendance was 200 students. After four years as head Miss Ryley has served 1,400 meals in one day.

This is not surprising. For, if all her menus are as appetizing as that of the luncheon I sampled, Hart House promises to be in a state of siege at meal time.

And the spotless cleanliness of it all!

The order and calm amidst the haste!

“How do I plan meals? In two ways,” she said, “Keeping in mind satisfactory bulk—how hungry those boys are after drilling for hours!—and nutritive value. We have an occasional test to find caloric /alue and nutritive ratio of the meals and n every case have found that the stuients are receiving more than the accept'd standard per day in both respects."

And what a provider! The shelves in 1er cellar ache with 3,000 big jars of 'ruit.

Ï aTP just out of orange marmalade, ’’reparing this fruit gives employment to «me of my staff at full wages throughout *e summer. My cook I keep all year

. IK there any work so important as the lietitian’s! Nothing can take the place of ood in the human economy! Not all the •ther influences combined can equal in irofound effect upon the welfare of a lousehold the influence exercised by food nd the way of regarding food. On this ietitians are agreed.

Miss Ryley is a graduate of the distinguished “normal class” already quoted, and after graduation entered New York City Hospital as a pupil dietitian. The opportunity to practise the principles and theories taught in the class room and laboratories is always sought in some active field of work, if only for six months, under an experienced dietitian.

The experience of Miss Katherine Baird, dietitian on the staff of the Sick Children’s Hospital, Toronto, has been varied and interesting. She, too, owes her training to Miss Laird, in the normal course. She afterwards joined the staff of Victoria Hospital, London, Ont., as dietitian and held the post for three years. She contributed six months’ service to Kingston General Hospital and a course of lectures on dietetics to St. Vincent de Paul Hospital, Brockville.

“This is a vocation coming rapidly into demand,” she stated. “For many small hospitals are unable to maintain a resident dietitian yet must have their nurses taught to prepare food. Qualified dietitians find positions readily, both in residential schools, public institutions, highclass restaurants, and, in fact, wherever large numbers of people must be fed. In hospitals the dietitian is absolutely necessary. Diet has become so important in the treatment of disease. Even in the last year or two this has increased. Diet is held to be part of the cure. Salaries are very good for dietitians. Better than for nurses. The social life is interesting, and the work varied and pleasurable.

“One gets quick results. We do not often enough consider the number of people who are actually starving simply for lack of knowing what to eat. Every day people are brought to hospitals about whom the doctor’s most important orders are to feed them back to health. They are afraid of nutritious food. They are so accustomed to a starvation diet that appetite has ceased to be a guide. They say that a cup of coffee and a slice of toast is quite enough for their breakfast! We all know that the body is a machine that burns its food for fuel to produce its heat and energy. How much heat and energy can be derived from such a meal? If taken in time such wrecks sometimes recover.”

Rational feeding is the ideal that actuates the work of Miss S. Lillian Peace, as dietitian in the cafeteria of the Y.W.C.A., still carrying on its admirable work in the circumscribed quarters at 209 Yonge street.

Winsome Lillian Peace. Her young benignity makes a haven of an eating room. She has had a rest room fitted up on the third floor with quiet and harmonious furnishings, couches with pillows anc rugs, screens for privacy, easy chairs writing materials, papers, magazines, and cut flowers.

“A home-like room,” she explained, “foi the convenience of the girl in business. 3 am sorry we have so little space for th* purpose.”

Miss Peace is a Toronto girl, educate* in city schools and a graduate of th normal class of the Lillian Massey Schoo of Household Science.

Her post graduate work was carried oi as pupil dietitian in the University Din ing Hall. Then she undertook the man

agement of the cafeteria which she has directed for four years.

The animating principle is to give the best possible food at a low cost to business women, this being made possible by eliminating service, the customer selecting her food from the steam tables and counters and carrying it to the tables on a tray.

Miss Peace’s quarters are so small that* she has to manoeuvre to manage at all. Yet her tiny kitchen provides for an average of over 650 patrons a day. Midday dinner and supper only are served. She specializes in appetizing menus for every meal, constantly changing the combinations. The cafeteria is not run for profit, but is self supporting.

This solicitude for others’ welfare is the keynote of social service. It is further

developed in that branch associated with the hospitals and probation courts, a course of training in which has recently been organized in Toronto General Hospital. Already, a group of earnest young people has been attracted to it.

But that is another story.

In concluding this writing it may be said that its design has been to serve as a guide to those who are pausing ere they take the first step on a career, uncertain, perhaps, in which, of so many directions, to proceed.

In the light of present-day experience one certainty must occur in any decision. And that is, that whatever the choice, the new standard for women’s work demands for her a scientific training.