Ellen Swallow Richards
||This article may require copy editing for tone, style, and cohesion. (October 2014)|
|Ellen H. Swallow Richards|
Ellen H. Richards
From The Life of Ellen H. Richards
by Caroline L. Hunt, 1912
|Born||Ellen Henrietta Swallow (Nellie)
December 3, 1842
|Died||March 30, 1911
|Christ Church Cemetery
|Residence||32 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts|
|Alma mater||Westford Academy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Known for||Home economics
|Spouse(s)||Robert Hallowell Richards
|Parents||Fanny Gould Taylor
Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards (December 3, 1842 – March 30, 1911) was the foremost female industrial and environmental chemist in the United States during the 19th century. Her pioneering work in sanitary engineering and experimental research in domestic science widened professional opportunities for women in the sciences and laid a foundation for the new science of home economics.
Richards graduated from Westford Academy (second oldest secondary school in Massachusetts) in 1862. She was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she graduated in 1873 and later became its first female instructor. Mrs. Richards was the first woman in America accepted to any school of science and technology, and the first American woman to earn a degree in chemistry, which she earned from Vassar College in 1870.
- 1 Life and work
- 1.1 Early childhood
- 1.2 Early education
- 1.3 Westford Academy
- 1.4 Teaching in Littleton
- 1.5 Vassar College
- 1.6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 1.7 American correspondence school instructor
- 1.8 Lawrence Experiment Station
- 1.9 Laboratory work
- 1.10 American Association of University Women
- 1.11 Teachers' School of Science
- 1.12 New England Kitchen of Boston
- 1.13 American Public School Lunch Program
- 1.14 Lake Placid Conference
- 1.15 American Home Economics Association
- 1.16 Death
- 2 Euthenics
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Selected works
- 5 Manuscript collections
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Life and work
Most, if not all of what is known about Ellen Richards' early life can be traced back to the definitive biography coordinated and written by Caroline Hunt (professor in home economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison) in 1912 entitled The Life of Ellen H. Richards. The biography all began the evening of April 2, 1911, when Professor R. H. Richards overheard a gathering at the College Club in Boston of Ellen's friends and co-workers, in town for her funeral, reminiscing about how inspirational an influence on them all she truly had been, and set out to "give permanent form to what had been said there so informally.":xi-xiv
She was born in Dunstable, Massachusetts. Richards was the only child of Peter Swallow (b. June 27, 1813, Dunstable; d. March 1871, Littleton, Massachusetts) and Fanny Gould Taylor (b. April 9, 1817, New Ipswich, New Hampshire), both whom came from established families of modest means, with a focus on the value of education. Peter Swallow moved to New Ipswich for school, where he met and married Fanny Taylor on May 9, 1839, in New Ipswich. Soon afterward, Richards moved back to Dunstable, into his father's home where he worked as both a teacher and a farmer.
Hunt notes that the girl-child of adventurous spirit born in rural New England during the middle of the nineteenth century was naturally drawn to new modes of service as her field of exploration. This choice was almost inevitable, as the culture was in a time period in which earnestness, conscientiousness, and unyielding devotion to duty were breathed in with the air of puritan New England, and self-sacrifice was demanded of women both by tradition and by public opinion.
An "active yet dainty little creature," Ellen was somewhat of a tomboy, a stereotype that disappointed her mother, who wished to "train the little feet to walk demurely, and the hands to love indoor and feminine occupations." Fortunately, a "wise physician, who, noticing the frailty of the child, said that if she were to grow to womanhood she must be allowed to fun freely in the open air; and from that time forward she followed her natural bent, spending most of her time outdoors with her father and her uncles on the farm."
Ellen's parents were very critical of the educators at the local school, having both been teachers, and save rare exception, instructed her themselves. By thirteen, under the careful supervision of her mother, Ellen had long mastered the fine arts of housekeeping, even taking a prize at the country fair for her skillfully embroidered handkerchief.
In 1845, Mr. Swallow was deeded half the farmland and house. The family remained there until April 1859, when they sold the farm and moved to Westford. There, they opened a store so Ellen could attend Westford Academy in order to obtain an academy education and still help out with the store and home chores.
During her Westford days, Ellen actively participated in the work which was going on around her in the store and home, and was not removed from it for the purposes of education. She had a real love of home, and focused on the art of household management. Her mother's sicknesses often left Ellen completely responsible for the order of the home, including the gardening and flowers for which both mother and daughter shared a great passion.
She also developed a fondness for fiction about this time. Her Uncle George is quoted as saying: "Ellen has become at about twelve years old a rapid reader, and was spending much of her time in reading works of fiction. I then said to her that I thought she better stop reading so much fiction and take up the study of more meritorious work."
There were few opportunities for women at the time, professionally or educationally. Schools for women were just starting to appear, and the field of education was just developing. Studies at the academy included mathematics, composition, and Latin, similar to New England academies of the time. Ellen's Latin proficiency allowed her to study French and German, a rare language north of New York. Skills of the quality that she was much in demand as a tutor, and earned her an income which made it possible to further her studies.
In March 1862, she left the academy. Two months later, in May, Ellen developed the measles which set her back physically and interrupted her preparations to begin teaching.
Teaching in Littleton
At the height of the Civil War (1861–1865), the spring of 1863 saw the family move again, this time to Littleton, Massachusetts, where Mr. Swallow had just purchased a larger store and expanded the business. By May 1864, Miss Swallow, now twenty-one, was finally healthy enough to pursue teaching; school began that June with thirty-seven students. Being two miles from home on the other side of town, she found a room in "a very pleasant boarding place," returning home for the weekends every Friday night.
To help more around the store, the home, and help care for her mother, Miss Swallow did not attempt to resume teaching in 1865. It was between the teaching, storekeeping, and housekeeping, she prepared herself for college. During the winter of 1865–66, Miss Swallow studied and attended lectures in Worcester, practicing strict economy, living mostly on bread and milk. Whether these studies were in preparation for Vassar specifically, or otherwise, has been lost to the ages.
Miss Swallow taught, tutored, and cleaned for years, finally saving enough to enter Vassar College in 1868, earning her bachelor's degree in two years; she earned a master of arts degree for her thesis on the chemical analysis of iron ore. Richards served on the board of trustees of Vassar College for many years and was granted an honorary doctor of science degree in 1910.
When she entered Vassar, in September, 1868, she was classified as a special student. Somewhat over a year later she was admitted to the senior class, and was graduated in 1870. During her years at college she wrote long letters, at least once a week, to her mother, which form an uninterrupted record, and which have come to be known as her Vassar Diary.
The strongest personal influences which came to her in college were from Maria Mitchell, the astronomer, and from professor Charles S. Farrar (1826-1908), who was at the head of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Miss Mitchell wanted to make an astronomer of her, and she would doubtless have succeeded if her science had not been so far removed from the earth and its needs. Hunt notes in her biography, that "[i]n the woefully brief autobiographical notes which Mrs. Richards left she said it was probably an unrecognized leaning towards social service which led her, an enthusiastic student of Maria Mitchell's, to abandon astronomy and study chemistry."
One classmate writes that she was a member of a little group of three who in an elective course in chemistry analyzed everything that came in their way "from shoe-blacking to baking powder."
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 1870, trying to gain suitable employment as an industrial chemist after graduation proved difficult for Miss Swallow. She wrote to Merrick and Gray, commercial chemists in Boston, asking them if they would take her as an apprentice. Hunt notes in her biography, that
|“||"her final decision to study chemistry was probably reached through a desire to help her father in the new business upon which he had entered, that of manufacturing building stone. She wrote to commercial chemists because no school then open to women offered more chemistry than she had had at Vassar. Merrick and Gray replied that they were not in a position to take pupils, and that her best course was to try to enter the Institute of Technology of Boston as a student, a most extraordinary piece of advice to be given to a woman in 1870."||”|
On December 10, 1870, after some discussion, it was voted that the Faculty of the Institute of Technology recommend to the Corporation the admission of Miss Swallow as a special student in Chemistry. It was
|“||"Resolved That the Faculty are of the opinion that the admission of women as special students is as yet in the nature of an experiment, that each application should be acted on upon its own merits, and that no general action or change of the former policy of the Institute is at present expedient."||”|
Miss Swallow became the first woman admitted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was able to continue her studies, "it being understood that her admission did not establish a precedent for the general admission of females" according to the records of the meeting of the MIT Corporation on December 14, 1870.
Civil War and Women's Suffrage
At the time, college admissions across the country declined drastically due to so many men participating, and dying during the Civil War. Many women had found themselves widows, or alone while the men were at war, and prospects of finding an eligible bachelor were slim. Women suddenly needed to provide for a family, to manage the household and farm or business. Women needed universities to obtain an education, and universities needed students for funding.
Begrudgingly, administrators began to give in to save their budgets. This provided another opportunity for women to demonstrate how long-held beliefs seriously underestimated a woman's capabilities. Women's suffrage in the United States, and the first wave of feminism, was now also already well underway.
Miss Swallow seemed to instinctively sense how best to balance the two worlds, between that of the men and women with strong anti-feminist sentiments, and that of the women and men who were the feminists of the time. In a letter to her parents, she mused "perhaps the fact that I am not a radical and that I do not scorn womanly duties but claim it as a privilege to clean up and sort of supervise the room and sew things is winning me stronger allies than anything else".
In Boston, Miss Swallow made her residence at a boarding house, located on 52 Columbus Avenue, run by the mother of Isa Blodgett, a colleague and friend from Westford Academy. She would wake early so she could help Mrs. Blodgett organize instructions for the help: menus for the day, budgets, interviewing the poor and often ill Irish men, women and children at the back door looking for work - and then on to the walk to school.
As recollected by Miss Swallow's third cousin, Ester Swallow Harless in her 1974 interview, Boston was the largest city Miss Swallow had seen so far, and it provided her an opportunity to observe liberty’s heritage, and its horrors. She was shocked by the things she saw on her way to school—the filth, disease and suffering. She had read about the excessive high rates of death and illness that ran through the city. Now, she saw why: Horse wagons carrying uncovered foods over dirty, unpaved streets through pools of stagnant swill made of everything from animal waste, human spit, and garbage. At the time, less than half the city’s children lived to be adults.
Mr. Swallow's death
Miss Swallow was sick about the first of March 1871, and returned home to recover for a few days. While there, she was just able to lie round on the sofa. Word was brought to her one morning that her father, who had left home an hour before, had been struck by an engine in the Union Station at Worcester, and was being brought home. Mr. Swallow's right arm was so badly crushed by the cars that it had been amputated, and he died four days later.
She wrote to a friend "I never could have lived thro these sad months if I had for an instant allowed my mind to dwell on the terrible scenes of my father's death. I turn my attention to something and so successfully that I've not dreamed of him as crushed or dead but once and that was a few nights ago after sitting here mending a dress all the evening and thinking of things at home."
During the last few months of that first year of her work at MIT, she was supporting herself, was settling her father's estate, and was making daily a trip to Boston and back, which took more than an hour each way. And yet, in spite of the "shock, the sorrow, the worry, and the weariness, she held her place in the Institute, keeping the door open for other women."
Great Boston Fire of 1872
The Great Boston Fire, on November 9, 1872, affected everyone. In a letter to a friend, Miss Swallow wrote with the terseness and vividness which were characteristic of her literary expression: "It was a strange feeling to stand out in the still night and see so intense and angry a monster eating up our stone walls." It was characteristic of her also that after a few days, having reflected that the loss was exclusively in material things, she should have written: "It was only property that was destroyed, and mainly the kind of merchandise that we put on our bodies, so we can do with less and not suffer. We ought to realize that as the Lord's stewards we ought not to wear all that He gives us to spend for His poor and needy."
Ökologie becomes ecology
Miss Swallow spent every moment she could in the library, reading all the scholarly journals, which at the time were usually found in languages other than English, particularly French, German, and Latin. For instance, her fluency in German and access to scholarly and professional journals in that language, allowed her to trace the German word ökologie to its origin.
Dr. Haelkel and Miss Swallow started at the same time and at the same place with water—the source of life. Chemistry, as Ellen Swallow saw it, was the science of the environment. From mineralogist, Robert Richards, she would add earth to air and water science to build oecology—ecology.
MIT Professor Robert Hallowell Richards
Robert Richards proved to be an interesting figure for Miss Swallow. He had been prepared in England for the usual Harvard education given sons of prominent families. Professor Richards was not opposed to the higher education of women.
In the 1870s the best professional journals in mineralogy and mining were in German, an almost unspoken language in Boston. He could understand the graphs and charts, and the chemical equations were fairly universal, but when it came to the text of an article the scales flew back in his eyes.
When he discovered Ellen could translate German spontaneously, his argument against coeducation began to evaporate. In the mineralogy laboratory where chemistry and mining met, Richards and Swallow became mineralogists and metallurgists together, a close relationship that spun an unexpected benefit for science and technology as well as for themselves.
By 1873, Miss Swallow received a bachelor of science degree from MIT for her thesis, "Notes on Some Sulpharsenites and Sulphantimonites from Colorado". She continued her studies at MIT and would have been awarded its first doctoral degree, but MIT balked at granting this distinction to a woman and did not award its first doctorate until 1886.
Marriage and home
On June 4, 1875 Miss Swallow married Robert H. Richards (1844-1945), chairman of the Mine Engineering Department at MIT. They immediately moved into the home they had purchased just before the wedding at 32 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. With her husband's support she remained associated with MIT, volunteering her services and contributing $1,000 annually to the "Woman's Laboratory," a program in which her students were mostly schoolteachers whose training had lacked laboratory work and who wanted to perform chemical experiments and learn mineralogy.
Soon, Mrs. Richards had brought her mother in to live there, along with other young women whom they mentored. Mrs. Swallow would remain there until her death, shortly before 1894.
Woman's Laboratory assistant instructor
Mrs. Richards appeared before the Woman's Education Association of Boston on November 11, 1875, and in an address which made a deep impression set forth the needs of women. She expressed the belief that the governing board of the Institute of Technology would give space for a woman's laboratory if the Association would supply the necessary money for instruments, apparatus, and books. Scholarships also would be almost indispensable, she said.
The Woman's Education Association appointed a committee to enter into communication with the Institute of Technology, which lead to the creation of the MIT Woman's Laboratory, November 1876. The Institute offered a small building planned for a gymnasium to be the location of the Laboratory. Mrs. Richards became an assistant instructor (without pay) in 1879 in chemical analysis, industrial chemistry, mineralogy, and applied biology under Professor John M. Ordway. The Woman's Education Association agreed to raise money to buy equipment for The Laboratory.
A new building, erected by the Institute in 1883, reserved space for all laboratory students' use, women as well as men. The Woman's Laboratory was closed and the building demolished.
In 1884, Mrs. Richards was appointed Instructor in Sanitary Chemistry in the Institute of Technology itself, a position which she filled until the time of her death. In addition to all her faculty duties and instructional work, she was also the "untitled" Dean of Women.
American correspondence school instructor
In January 1876, Mrs. Richards began a long association as an instructor with the first American correspondence school, the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, where she developed the science department.
In 1886 a new section, Sanitary Science, was established in the Society. The plan of this course was an original idea with Mrs. Richards. It was at a time when household conveniences employing water, gas, or electricity were becoming general, but housekeepers seldom understood what dangers and difficulties attended the ignorant use of the new arrangements. She saw that instruction was needed, and was glad to make the society a means to that end and to spread abroad knowledge of the possibilities of organizing the house on truly scientific principles.
Lawrence Experiment Station
From 1884 until her death, Mrs. Richards was an instructor in the newly founded laboratory of sanitary chemistry at the Lawrence Experiment Station, the first in the United States and headed by her former professor, William R. Nichols.
In 1887, the laboratory, directed by Thomas Messinger Drown, was appointed by the newly formed Massachusetts State Board of Health to a landmark study of sanitary quality of the state's inland waters. Drown helped start MIT’s chemical engineering curriculum in the late 1880s. As consulting chemist to the Massachusetts State Board of Health, he was in charge of the now famous Lawrence Experiment Station laboratory conducting the water sampling, testing, and analysis. There, he "put to work the environmental chemist and first female graduate of MIT," Mrs. Richards. This research created the famous "normal chlorine" map of Massachusetts that was the first of its kind and was the template for others. As a result, Massachusetts established the first water-quality standards in America, and the first modern sewage treatment plant was created.
Mrs. Richards was a consulting chemist for the Massachusetts State Board of Health from 1872 to 1875 and the Commonwealth's official water analyst from 1887 until 1897.
After her first experience as water analyst under Professor Nichols, Mrs. Richards entered upon a large private practice in sanitary chemistry, including the examination not only of water, but also of air and of food, and the testing of wallpapers and fabrics for arsenic. In 1878 and 1879 she examined a large number of staple groceries for the state, the results of her investigation being published in the first annual report of the Board of Health, Lunacy and Charity, which had succeeded the earlier Board of Health.
She also served as a consultant to the Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Co and in 1900 wrote the textbook Air, Water, and Food from a Sanitary Standpoint, with A. G. Woodman. Her interest in the environment led her to introduce the word ecology into English around 1892, which had been coined by German biologist Ernst Haeckel to describe the "household of nature".
Mrs. Richards' interests also included applying scientific principles to domestic situations, such as nutrition, clothing, physical fitness, sanitation, and efficient home management, creating the field of home economics. "Perhaps the fact that I am not a radical and that I do not scorn womanly duties but claim it as a privilege to clean up and sort of supervise the room and sew things is winning me stronger allies than anything else," she wrote to her parents. She published The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning: A Manual for House-keepers in 1881, designed and demonstrated model kitchens, devised curricula, and organized conferences.
American Association of University Women
Richards and Marion Talbot (Boston University class of 1880) became the "founding mothers" of what was to become the American Association of University Women (AAUW) when they invited fifteen other women college graduates to a meeting at Talbot's home in Boston, on November 28, 1881. The group envisioned an organization in which women college graduates would band together to open the doors of higher education to other women and to find wider opportunities for their training. The Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA), AAUW's predecessor organization, was officially founded on January 14, 1882.
Teachers' School of Science
Lucretia Crocker, along with women’s clubs and other help in the Boston area, created a "Teachers' School of Science" in Back Bay at the New museum of the Boston society. Along with Mrs. Richards, Crocker created a mineralogy course for teachers. Teacher found such education in the Boston area because of area scientist that would teach their courses.
New England Kitchen of Boston
In January 1, 1890, Mrs. Richards entered upon an undertaking which, to use the words of a popular English writer, was "an interesting failure, but a failure which had all the educational value of a first reconnaissance into unexplored territory." This experiment was the famous New England Kitchen of Boston, at 142 Pleasant Street, and the "unexplored territory" was the willingness of the poor to be scientifically fed. The aim of which was to serve cooked food for home consumption and to give the largest possible amount of nourishment for a given amount of money.
Years later, Mrs. Richards, herself, wrote in her preface to part one of The Rumford kitchen leaflets : No. 17, "The Story of the New England Kitchen; Part II; A study in social economics", by Mary Hinman Abel (1850–1938):
|“||The story of the New England Kitchen, which Mrs. Abel has so charmingly told in the following pages, is remarkable for two things : the new and valuable information which has been acquired, as the result of the daily work of the Kitchen, and the short time which has sufficed to put the enterprise on a business basis.
It is well to emphasize the causes of this success, that the lessons in social science and practical philanthropy be not lost. A large part of the credit is due, as the readers of this report will easily divine, to Mrs. Abel's hard work, as well as to her unusual ability, enthusiasm, and ready tact. So fully has Mrs. Abel been identified with the project from the beginning, that it is not easy to think of its successful issue without her aid. But ability and enthusiasm alone would not have sufficed to work out the problem undertaken in starting the New England Kitchen, which was, namely, an experiment to determine the successful conditions of preparing, by scientific methods, from the cheaper food materials, nutritious and palatable dishes, which should find a ready demand at paying prices.
Mrs. Abel would doubtless give as the principal secret of her success, that she had everything necessary for the experiments, without giving a thought to the cost. The work of the investigator is not at its best if he has to worry about the ways and means. In the New England Kitchen the selection of the apparatus and material and the employment of labor have been without restriction. Without this freedom to carry on the experiments as seemed wise and prudent, the results detailed in the accompanying report could not have been attained.
The philanthropy of the scheme rests in the experimental stage of the development of the New England Kitchen. Whether the business can in the future take care of itself to the profit of those who conduct it remains to be seen ; but, in any event, kitchens of this kind cannot fail to be of great advantage to multitudes in moderate circumstances, who have hitherto been unable to buy good, nutritious, and tasteful cooked food.
For a charity that feeds the hungry there is no lack of the bounty of good people ; but it is safe to say that not many could be found who would be willing to give liberally and unrestrictedly to carry on a scientific experiment in the hope of learning how the people might be better fed.
In 1893, when Mrs. Richards had charge of the Rumford Kitchen at the World's Fair in Chicago, she accepted the added work and responsibility of arranging an exhibition of the work of Studies at Home.
The opening statement of the Guide to the Rumford Kitchen: An Exhibit made by the State of Massachusetts in connection with the Bureau of Hygiene and Sanitation (World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893) by General Francis A. Walker explains:
|“||The exhibit known as the Rumford Kitchen is the outgrowth of the work, in the application of the principles of chemistry to the science of cooking, which has for three years been carried on as an educational agency by Mrs. Robert H. Richards and Mrs. Dr. John J. Abel, with pecuniary assistance from certain public-spirited citizens of Boston.
The Massachusetts Board of World's Fair Managers, recognizing the high scientific character of those who have initiated and conducted this enterprise, and believing that such practical demonstration of the usefulness of domestic science could not fail to be of advantage to multitudes of visitors to the Columbian Exposition, have invited the ladies named to open the Rumford Kitchen as a part of the exhibit of Massachusetts in connection with the Bureau of Hygiene and Sanitation.
In order to reduce, in some degree, the expenses of this exhibit, the food cooked in the Rumford Kitchen will be sold under a concession from the administration of the Exposition ; but it should be understood that this is not a money-making exhibit ; that nothing is cooked for the sake of being sold ; and that the enterprise is to be regarded as absolutely a scientific and educational one.
|“||The purpose of the exhibit in the Rumford Kitchen is two-fold : First, to commemorate the services to the cause of domestic science rendered by Count Rumford one hundred years ago, services which to-day stand unrivaled in spite of the progress of other departments during this century; second, to serve as an incentive to further work in the same direction, as he expressed it," to provoke men to investigation," "to cause doubt, that first step toward knowledge."||”|
The first commercially available "modern" kitchen ranges began to appear about 1800, they were the invention of an American named Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford.
American Public School Lunch Program
"The first major program had started in some Boston high schools in 1894, in large part due to Ellen Richards and Edward Atkinson. The New England Kitchen ran the program as a 'private enterprise' that paid for itself many times over. Although the lunches never became effective instruments for teaching the New Nutrition the founders had envisaged, by the early twentieth century they were praised for providing nutritionally sound meals and low prices to children who would not normally have them, and this became the main justification for similar lunch programs in other cities."
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed into law the National School Lunch Program to provide low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies to schools. The program was established as a way to prop up food prices by absorbing farm surpluses, while at the same time providing food to school age children. It was named after Richard Russell, Jr., and President Harry S. Truman signed into law in 1946.
Lake Placid Conference
Early in September, 1899, trustees of the Lake Placid Club (Morningside, New York) thought it was the right time to bring together those most interested in home science, or household economics. They sent out many invitations for the Lake Placid Conference scheduled to take place Sept. 19-25, 1899. One of those invitations found its way to Mrs. Richards, a personal request by Mr. Melvil Dewey, one of the club's trustees, for her to attend. Standards of living was the subject of an evening lecture given by Mrs. Richards, who was elected chairman of the conference.
American Home Economics Association
In 1908, Mrs. Richards was chosen the first president of the newly formed American Home Economics Association, which was renamed the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in 1994. She also founded and funded the Association's periodical, the Journal of Home Economics, which began publication in 1909. It was renamed the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences in 1994 when the Association changed its name.
Her books and writings on this topic include Food Materials and their Adulterations (1886); Conservation by Sanitation; The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning; The Cost of Living (1899); Air, Water, and Food (1900); The Cost of Food; The Cost of Shelter; The Art of Right Living; The Cost of Cleanness; Sanitation in Daily Life (1907); and Euthenics, the Science of Controllable Environment (1910). Some of these went through several editions.
Richards derived the term euthenics from the Greek verb Eutheneo, Εὐθηνέω (eu, well; the, root of tithemi, to cause). To be in a flourishing state, to abound in, to prosper.—Demosthenes. To be strong or vigorous.—Herodotus. To be vigorous in body.—Aristotle. And from the Greek Euthenia, Εὐθηνία. Good state of the body: prosperity, good fortune, abundance.—Herodotus. The opposite of Euthenia is Penia - Πενία ("deficiency" or "poverty") the personification of poverty and need.
Richards was the first writer to use the term, in The Cost of Shelter (1905), with the meaning "the science of better living".
In her book Euthenics: the science of controllable environment (1910), she stated that the betterment of living conditions, through conscious endeavor, for the purpose of securing efficient human beings, is what the author means by Euthenics.
Vigorous debate about its exact meaning, confusion with the term eugenics, followed by the Great Depression and two world wars, where among the many factors which led to the movement never really getting the funding, nor the attention needed to put together a lasting, vastly multidisciplinary curriculum, but instead, split off into different disciplines. Child Study being one such curriculum. Thus, the end of euthenics as originally defined by Ellen Swallow Richards.
Martin Heggestad of the Mann Library notes that "Starting around 1920, however, home economists tended to move into other fields, such as nutrition and textiles, that offered more career opportunities, while health issues were dealt with more in the hard sciences and in the professions of nursing and public health. Also, improvements in public sanitation (for example, the wider availability of sewage systems and of food inspection) led to a decline in infectious diseases and thus a decreasing need for the largely household-based measures taught by home economists."
Ellen Swallow Richards Residence
|Location||32 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts|
|Area||0.2 acres (0.081 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||92001874|
|Added to NRHP||March 31, 1992|
- The Ellen Swallow Richards House designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
- In 1925, Vassar College, based around alumna Richards' ideas, began an interdisciplinary curriculum of euthenics studies located in their recently constructed Minnie Cumnock Blodgett Hall of Euthenics, which was officially dedicated in 1929.
- In her honor, MIT designated a room in the main building for the use of women students, and in 1973, on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Richard's graduation, established the Ellen Swallow Richards professorship for distinguished female faculty members.
- In 1993, Richards was honored by inclusion into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
- In 2011, she was listed as #8 on the MIT150 list of the top 150 innovators and ideas from MIT.
|“||Number 8: Drink up
Healthy eating and clean drinking water have been issues of concern a lot longer than you realize. MIT home economics pioneer Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) was an expert in the preparation of nutritious foods and led the first survey of water quality in America. The survey prompted Massachusetts to establish the first water-quality standards and municipal sewage treatment plant in the country. Richards was also the first woman admitted to MIT, its first female instructor, the foremost female industrial and environmental chemist of her era, and a huge advocate of educating women in science.
- Richards, Ellen (1898) . Food materials and their adulterations. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, (1885); Home Science Publishing Co. (iv, 183).
- Richards, Ellen (1899). Plain words about food: the Rumford kitchen leaflets 1899. Boston: Home Science Publishing Co. (176,  leaves of plates).
- Richards, Ellen (1904). First lessons in food and diet. (1st ed.). Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows.
- Richards, Ellen (1905). The Cost of Shelter. (1st ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons; [etc.] ISBN 1414230125.
- Richards, Ellen (1906?). Meat and drink. Boston: Health-Education League.
- Richards, Ellen (c.1908). The Efficient worker. Boston: Health-Education League.
- Richards, Ellen (c.1908). Health in labor camps. Boston: Health-Education League.
- Richards, Ellen (1908 or 1909). Tonics and stimulants. Boston: Health-Education League.
- Richards, Ellen (1909) . Air, water, and food: from a sanitary standpoint. (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, etc. with Alpheus G. Woodman.
- Richards, Ellen (1912) . Euthenics: The Science of Controllable Environment : A Plea for Better Conditions As a First Step Toward Higher Human Efficiency. (2nd ed.). Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows. ISBN 0405098278.
- Sumida, Kazuko, ed. (2007) Collected Works of Ellen H. Swallow Richards. (5 vols.) Tokyo: Edition Synapse. ISBN 978-4-86166-048-1
Richards's manuscripts are contained in various collections throughout the United States and beyond. Aside from those listed below, manuscripts can be found within collections related to the organizations Richards associated herself with, such as the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, whose scattered manuscripts are housed in collections in Cornell University, Iowa State University, etc.
- "Mrs. Ellen H. Richards Dead. Head of Social Economics in Massachusetts Institute of Technology". New York Times. March 31, 1911. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
- "Richards, Ellen Swallow, Residence". National Historic Landmarks Program. April 7, 1991. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- "Campus Life: M.I.T.; Salute to Women At a School Once 99.6% Male". New York Times. April 7, 1991. Retrieved 2014-03-08. "When Ellen Swallow Richards came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January 1871, she was the first woman to attend the institute, then based in Boston."
- "Ellen Swallow Richards". Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics.
- "Ellen H. Swallow Richards". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- Richardson, Barbara (2002). "Ellen Swallow Richards: 'Humanistic Oekologist,' 'Applied Sociologist,' and the Founding of Sociology". American Sociologist 33 (3): 21–58. doi:10.1007/s12108-002-1010-6.
- Hunt, Caroline Louisa (1912). The life of Ellen H. Richards (1st ed.). Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows.
- Kennedy, June W. (2006). Westford Recollections of Days Gone By: Recorded Interviews 1974-1975 A Millennium Update (1st ed.). Bloomington, IN: Author House. ISBN 1-4259-2388-7. LCCN 2006904814.
- Vassar Historian. "Charles Farrar". http://vcencyclopedia.vassar.edu. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Ellen Swallow Richards & MIT: Institute Archives & Special Collections: MIT
- Hunt, Caroline L. (1912). The LIfe of Ellen H. Richards. Boston: Whitcomb and Barrows. p. 91.
- Notes on Some Sulpharsenites and Sulphantimonites from Colorado
- Rossiter, Margaret W. (1982). Women Scientists in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0801824435.
- Ellen Swallow Richards: Rumford Kitchen: Institute Archives & Special Collections: MIT
- Kohlstedt, Sally Gregory. ((September 2005)). Nature, Not Books: Scientists and the Origins of the Nature-Study Movement in the 1890s. Isis, Vol. 96, No. 3. pp. 324–352, p. 328. Check date values in:
- Richards, Ellen H. (1899). Plain words about food: the Rumford kitchen leaflets, 1899. (1st ed.). Boston: Rockwell and Churchill Press.
- Levenstein, Harvey (1988). Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 116.
- Copy of the School Lunch Act As Enacted in 1946, Federal Education Policy History website
- The National School Lunch Program Background and Development
- Richards, Ellen H., ed. (1901–1908), "Lake Placid Conference proceedings", Lake Placid Conference, Lake Placid, NY: American Home Economics Association Missing or empty
- Richards, Ellen H. Swallow (1912) . Euthenics: The Science of Controllable Environment : A Plea for Better Conditions As a First Step Toward Higher Human Efficiency (2nd ed.). Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows. ISBN 0405098278.
- Theoi Project - Penia
- Grandy, John K. (2006). Birx, H.J., ed. Euthenics. Encyclopedia of Anthropology. 5 Vols. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. doi:10.4135/9781412952453. ISBN 9781412952453.
- HEARTH Library-Cornell University
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- National Historic Landmark profile, National Park Service. Accessed 2013-09-03.
- Vassar Historian. "The Vassar Summer Institute". http://vcencyclopedia.vassar.edu. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Globe Staff Writers (May 15, 2011). "The MIT 150". http://www.boston.com. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Collection on Ellen Swallow Richards.". https://libraries.mit.edu/archives/. MIT, Cambridge, MA: MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.
- "Ellen Swallow Richards Papers, 1882-1910.". http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/index.html. Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA: Five College Archives & Manuscript Collections.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Richards, Ellen Swallow.|
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "Richards, Ellen Swallow". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Works written by or about Ellen Swallow Richards at Wikisource
- Ellen Richards papers from Vassar
- Ellen Swallow Richards and the Progressive Women's Reform Movement
- Ellen Swallow Richards and the Progressive women's reform movement
- National Women's Hall of Fame biography of Ellen Richards
- The Revenge of Ellen Swallow
- Tributes to Ellen Swallow Richards
- Ellen Swallow Richards at Archive.org