Grace Godfrey, Dean of Home Economics
March 21, 2008
by Robin Elliot
Women during the last quarter of the nineteenth century began to develop new life paths for themselves. Women began choosing to remain single and were able to support themselves through teaching careers. These women had gone to college and if they did marry, it was later in life than many other women in America at that time.
The women educators of Drexel were connected to this social change. Dean Grace Godfrey was a successful, single woman who dedicated her life to helping Drexel be an institution of higher learning for women, assisting them in all facets of their future lives.
Grace Godfey was born in 1893 in Whitewater, Wisconsin where she attended the Whitewater State Teachers' Laboratory School. She taught elementary school in Wisconsin for two years after receiving her diploma. She was a director of Home Economics at Lindenwood College located in Missouri. She had a B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin (1916) and a Masters from the Teachers College of Columbia University (1923). She continued her graduate education at both University of Wisconsin and University of Chicago. She came to Drexel in 1919 when she was a professor in home economics. She was named the Dean of School of Home Economics in 1923. She held this position until her death in August of 1944.
Dean Godfrey was involved with numerous educational organizations. She was the president of the Pennsylvania Home Economics Association and the Philadelphia Home Economics Association during her career. She was also affiliated with the American Home Economics Association. She was a member of the American Association of University Women, Omricon Nu, and numerous other organizations. She was also affiliated with the Council of Defense, the Philadelphia Housing Association, the Council of Social Agencies in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Nutrition Council.
When Godfrey died in 1944, Robert C. Disque was the Acting President of Drexel. He spoke at her memorial service and accentuated the many changes she instituted at Drexel in the School of Home Economics. It went from a small technical school to having college and graduate courses for students. In 1944 the enrollment in the School of Home Economics was higher than in any previous year. Godfrey got the Phi Kappa Phi to be at Drexel, this is an honorary scholastic fraternity for male and female students. Godfrey championed Drexel for inclusion in the American Association of University Women, open to all female students. She also got the Omicron Nu, National Home Economics honorary society begun at Drexel for students.
One focus of Godfrey's educational focus was to have research and instruction facilities at Drexel which would connect science to the home through education.
Godfrey's academic expertise was in nutrition. In multiple letters to Drexel after her death students wrote of her teaching expertise and how she had impacted their lives. One wrote 'She helped me a great deal in preparing to earn my living in Home Economics work.' This shows what one purpose of the Home Economics School was-to educate women for employment and how important that was to Grace Godfrey.
The Home Management House was an important part of the curricula of the School of Home Economics. After her death, it was renamed the Grace Godfrey Home Management House to honor her memory.
- See The Evening Bulletin Friday August 25, 1944 p.8 located in the Office of the President Records, along with other biographical material
- See 'Remarks Made by Dr. R.C. Disque at the Memorial Service for Dean Grace Godfrey, November 1, 1944, at Drexel Institute of Technology' in Godfrey Grace, UR1.5 Office of the President Records, Series 7, Box 20, Folder 3
- See UR 1.5 Office of the President records and 1.7 James Creese administration records for items on Grace Godfrey, Home Economics, and women at Drexel
- See Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: Free Press Paperbacks, A Division of Simon and Schuster, 1997, p.147.