Iowa State's Home Management Houses

Feb 10, 2015

For the first year of his life, John Reichard lived in a house where university students cared for him. They called him "Baby Ned."

Reichard, along with many other babies were part of Iowa State University’s home management course, designed to educate homemakers in family economics and resource management at the college from the 1920s through the 1950s.

While there was some concern that this arrangement was not in the babies' best interest, Reichard disagrees.

"Baby Ned" with one of his student caregivers on campus in spring 1939

"There were 12 mothers for one baby, instead of the other way around," he says. "It's nice to know I was cared for."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Reichard, as well as graduates of the home management program, Mary deBaca and Sandy Uelner. They recount memories of friendship, mishap, and learning. deBaca also talks about the history of the program and what it meant to women at that time.

"This was the first time women had access to higher education," she says. "Women were beginning to see aspects of home economics as career possibilities, as well as being homemakers."

Hear more Talk of Iowa stories weekdays at 10 a.m. CST, on Iowa Public Radio.