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Catherine J. MacKay papers

Identifier: RS 12/1/11

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The collection (1911-1989, undated) documents the activities of Catherine J. MacKay as Dean of the Division of Home Economics (College of Family and Consumer Science). The collection contains news clippings, articles, writings, and certificates. There is also a bound book, which is comprised of pamphlets Dean MacKay used in her extension work.


  • 1911-1989, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Catherine Jane MacKay was born February 24, 1871, in Ontario, Canada. Dean MacKay's early education ended at age 16, when her mother died. At that time, she took on a mothering role for her large family. MacKay went back to school and received her Master's degree (1905) from the Drexel Institute in Boston. After school, she went to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to teach at the Young Women's Christian Association. She then became supervisor of Domestic Science for the public schools in Winnipeg, Canada. MacKay came to Iowa State College (University) in 1911, as an assistant to Virgilia Purmort, who was head of the Domestic Science department at the time. In 1912, MacKay was named head of Domestic Science. In 1913, the department was renamed the Division of Home Economics, with MacKay named dean - making MacKay the first dean of the Home Economics Department.

Under MacKay's leadership, student enrollment, and faculty and staff increased for the Division of Home Economics and Extension Service. "Practice houses" were put into use, simulating real-life situations for students.

Dean MacKay was a consultant for the New Housekeeping department of the Ladies Home Journal. She was a member of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, Phi Kappa Phi, Theta Sigma Phi, Delta Delta Delta, and Omicron Nu. Dean MacKay received many honors as well. In 1916, MacKay was elected president of the American Home Economics Association. The Drexel Institute awarded her an honorary Master's degree (1917). She also worked with the United States Food and Drug Administration, and was chairperson of the Women's Committee of the Iowa State Council of Defense.

Dean MacKay died at her brother's home in Canada in 1921.


1.92 Linear Feet (1 document box and 1 map case folder)


The collection is organized Alphabetically.

Items in related collections

RS 12/1. Iowa State University. College of Family and Consumer Sciences records, 1902-2012

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 12/1/11. Catherine J. MacKay papers, 1911-1989, undated
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672