A History of The Department of Human Development and Family Studies

What we now call the Department of Human Development and Family Studies went through many and various changes through its history, since the time when it was only the Department of Domestic Art. This was one of the first departments established at Utah State University. As the role of women changed over the 20th century, so too did this department in order to better suit the educational needs of its students.

The courses offered within the department in its earliest days emphasized “women’s work,” that is, cooking and sewing. [1] Over the following years, however, the department expanded its course offerings, to the point where Domestic Art and Sewing split into separate entities, and Domestic Art became Household Economy. This renamed portion of the university offered education in “laundering, fruit work, cooking, the science of nutrition, hygiene, household management, and aesthetics.” [2] The offerings were diverse even in Sewing, with different courses looking at different scale projects. The skills expected of women at the time were increasingly refined and given an almost scientific precision. Subsequently, in 1903, the department became the School of Domestic Science and Art, though its time with this name was short lived. [3]

We are Utah's State University's First Department.


USU Founded

First class of 139 included 33 women in the domestic art department.


Jeremiah Sanborn is elected first president of the Domestic Arts faculty at USAC. This marks the start of the Department of Family Life at USU.  

Jeremiah Sanborn


USU Split Into 5 Colleges

School of Domestic Science and Art was born.


College Created 3 Departments

School of Domestic Science and Art created the following three departments:
1. Food and Dietetics
2. Home Construction and Sanitation
3. Domestic Art



Department offered one of the first classes in the nation on "mothercraft".

This is a photo of two instructors giving a lecture in a home economics class in the 1950's.


Home Management Home
Home Management Home finished, which was used as a practice cottage until 1963.


Department Created

Department of Child Development and Parental Education was created with accompanying child development lab.


President E.G Peterson uses funds from the public works administration to build a new women's building. This was important because it has served as the Family Life Building ever since. 

Family Life Building from 1935


College Renamed Family Life

Department renamed Family Life and Child Development.

The 1965 yearbook describes some of the purposes of the College of Family Life.


First Faculty with PhD

First faculty member hired with a PhD.


Faculty Hired as Specialist

Faculty hired as first Family Life Extension Specialist.


Department Renamed

The department was renamed Family and Human Development.


First Doctoral Students

First doctoral students were admitted in the department.


Program Creation and Lab Remodeling

Marriage and Family Therapy program created. Child Development Lab was remodeled. 

Courses focusing on child development became an increasingly important component of the curriculum.



College Disbanded

College of Family Life disbanded and department moved to the College of Education. Department was renamed to Family, Consumer, & Human Development. 


Department Renamed

Department was renamed to Human Development & Family Studies.