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Unveiling the Secret History of Home Economics and the Women Who Changed the World

Are you ready to rewrite the narrative of “home economics”? Join the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas (WFA), Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), and ESSE Purse Museum & Store at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater for a captivating discussion and book signing with Danielle Dreilinger, author of “The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live.” Dreilinger will delve into the history of this often misunderstood field, revealing the remarkable stories of the women who redefined its meaning and worked for a more equitable future.

Dreilinger’s book shatters the stereotypical image of sewing needles and perfect pies, instead painting a vibrant portrait of women who defied societal norms and embraced science, technology and social justice through the lens of domesticity. From Black college graduates pioneering nutrition education to engineers testing astronaut food, these women tackled challenges far beyond the kitchen walls.

Dreilinger promises an insightful and engaging discussion, highlighting Arkansas-specific connections to the book’s themes and demonstrating how women used this field to springboard careers in chemistry, marketing and even space exploration. She’ll also explore the crucial, often overlooked contributions Black women made in shaping this field.

In celebration of Dreilinger’s work, ESSE Purse Museum has launched a special exhibition, “The Secret History of Home Economics,” on display now through May 26.

This can’t-miss exhibition contains numerous hats, gloves, shoes, handbags and more from the early 1900s through the 1970s. The vast collection was donated to ESSE by the Henderson State University’s Home Economics Department upon its closing, in an effort to preserve this vital piece of domestic science history. Listen to Dreilinger’s talk and then pop over to ESSE to peruse this unique exhibition.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required.

Inviting Arkansas

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