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Who were the individuals Ellen Richards frequently corresponded with?

Annie Dewey

Annie Godfrey Dewey helped begin the Lake Placed Conference on Home Economics, which she hosted yearly with her husband Melvil Dewey, who became well-known for his work on the Dewey Decimal System. Annie Dewey and Ellen Richards were close friends for the last decade of Richards’s life as they worked to yearly hold the conference on home economics.

Isabel Bevier

Isabel Bevier was professor of home economics at University of Illinois in Champaign and was one of the moving forces of the home economics movement. She attended Vassar, studied chemistry at Case Western, and worked at the Department of Agriculture. She also worked with Richards in chemistry and sanitary science at MIT and Richards remained a life-long mentor.

Mary Hinman Abel

Richards and Abel worked together to form the New England Kitchen in Boston, which opened in 1890. Focusing on nutrition science to inform what should be cooked and eaten, Richards and Abel hoped the model New England Kitchen would demonstrate to working class and immigrant Bostonians healthy cooking and eating practices.

Explore the Organizations Richards worked with

Ellen Richards worked with many different organizations to accomplish her goals for women in higher education and science, as well as to seek her own professional accomplishments.

Association of Collegiate Alumnae

Formed in 1882 after a call to eight colleges (Oberlin, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, Michigan, Wisconsin, Cornell and Boston), the Association for Collegiate Alumnae served to support educated women in the challenges they encountered. Founded by women, for women, the ACA later became the American Association for University Women. Richards was one of the early founders and used her work in the ACA to tackle topics such as the educated woman’s health and reform efforts.

Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics

From 1901 to 1908 Ellen Richards annually planned the Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics with Annie Dewey. Melvil and Annie Dewey hosted the conference on their Lake Placid property and this played an instrumental role in beginning the American Home Economics Association, as well as working out the terminology of home economics, domestic science, domestic economy, and Richards’s own term, euthenics.


Richards’s magnum opus was her 1911 publication of the book Euthenics, in which she argued that humans who did not clean up the air, water, soil and food were doomed to extinction. Richards coined the term euthenics much earlier than 1911, however, and she frequently coupled her presentations on home economics with her concept of euthenics: that the environment was similar to a home, it must be kept clean if humans were to productive and healthy.