University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Anna Barrows papers, 1839-1948, undated

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection includes several folders of Barrows’ notes and drafts of demonstration lectures. Also included are some of Barrows’ published articles and other ephemeral material on the topic of home economics education. There is correspondence between family members, a number of Barrows’ vital records (birth certificate, will, etc.), and material relating to Barrows’ interest in gardening, antiques, and rare books. The collection includes over 30 original photographs of Barrows from young adulthood until her later years, including several of her posing at the microphone for her WEAF lectures. Reference can be found to her mother, Georgiana Souther Barrows, about whom the MWWC also holds material.

Biographical/Historical Note

Born in Fryeburg, Maine in 1861 to Georgiana Souther Barrows, Anna Barrows was educated at Fryeburg Academy, which was founded by her parents. Barrows began her teaching career in the public schools of Fryeburg and Conway, New Hampshire. After taking a course at the Boston Cooking School in 1886, she began teaching cooking and home economics, before these were standard courses in the public schools. Barrows taught in a number of schools in the Boston area, including Lasell Seminary in Auburndale. She became director of the summer school of domestic science in Chautauqua, New York, and taught for many years at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Barrows’ humorous and philosophical “demonstration lectures” were in high demand among women’s clubs, church and community organizations. In the 1920s, Barrows became more widely known when she began lecturing on the radio. Barrows published a number of volumes on home economics, including Eggs: Facts and Fancies About Them (1890); Principles of Cookery (1907); and The Farm Kitchen as Workshop (1914) and co-founded The New England Kitchen Magazine, the first professional home economics journal. She was a charter member of the American Home Economics Association and served on numerous other organizations and committees throughout her life, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the School Committee of the City of Boston, and New England Women’s Press Association. Barrows died at the age of 86 in Fryeburg, Maine.