Ava Milam Clark Papers, 1856-1972  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Clark, Ava Milam, 1884-1976.
Title
Ava Milam Clark Papers
Dates
1856-1972 (inclusive)
1915-1968 (bulk)
Quantity
5.8 cubic feet, including 455 photographs, (18 boxes)
Collection Number
MSS ClarkAvaM
Summary
The Ava Milam Clark Papers document Clark's career in the field of home economics, her role as Dean of Home Economics at Oregon State College from 1917 to 1950, and her international activities as a consultant to home economics programs in China, Japan, Korea, Iraq, and Syria.
Repository
Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Research Center
Special Collections and Archives Research Center
121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR
97331-4501
Telephone: 541-737-2075
Fax: 541-737-8674
scarc@oregonstate.edu
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Languages
English, Arabic, Chinese


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ava Milam Clark was the Dean of the School of Home Economics for over 30 years, and through her frequent visits abroad, was instrumental to the development of home economics in multiple countries. After serving in many high-profile leadership roles in multiple organizations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, she married J.C. Clark late in life and died in 1976.

Ava Milam and her twin sister, Ada, were born November 27, 1884 in Macon County, Missouri to Mary Louisa McGinnis Milam and Ancil Milam. Ava graduated from Century Academy in Macon County in June 1903. She was then employed at Blees Military Academy in Macon, Missouri for a short time before entering the University of Chicago in 1906. At the University of Chicago, she studied under a number of faculty who were pioneers in home economics and domestic science in the U.S., including Marion Talbot and Sophonsiba Breckenridge, who would become lifelong friends to Ava. She graduated from the University of Chicago in June 1910 and went on for graduate study, leaving with a Master of Arts in 1911. She came to Oregon Agricultural College in 1911 to be a faculty member in the burgeoning Home Economics department. She assumed the deanship of this school in 1917, and oversaw the school until her retirement in 1950.

A central focus of Ava Milam's career was the development of home economics in other countries. In 1922 she made her first trip to China, visiting towns and villages all over the country to observe homes and schools, and to learn from Chinese teachers and homemakers. She conducted a survey of Chinese students and citizens on this trip, including questions about the type and size of family, family customs and social life, housing and sanitary standards, the mother's and father's responsibilities in the home, the care and feeding of children, and industries in the home. She later published the results of this questionnaire in 1930 in a book titled A Study of the Student Homes of China. With the cultural background gleaned from this survey and her own observations, she introduced a program of home economics at Yenching University that was adapted to the particular needs and concerns of Chinese homes. The first college-level course in home economics in China was given in the fall of 1923 using her curriculum. She also visited Korea, Japan, and the Philippines on this trip, visiting schools and homes to observe the home life of citizens and discover trends in home and industrial life.

In 1931 she travelled again to China, Korea, and Japan on sabbatical to establish a scholarship program for home economics students in these countries in her work for the American Home Economics Association, and to work as a consultant for home economics programs in Asia. She was also able to visit the Philippines, Singapore, Burma, India, Egypt, Palestine, Italy, and London on this trip. In 1932, she was made Director of Home Economics for the Oregon State System of Higher Education, and coordinated the work in home economics at University of Oregon, Oregon State College, and other schools in the state. Ava Milam led a home economics study tour for OSC students, graduates, and faculty with Alma Fritchoff in the summer of 1937, visiting China, Japan, and Korea to observe homes and visit tourist attractions. This tour was held up in China by the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, and the tourists escaped from battle areas just before major destruction occurred.

In 1938-1939, Ava Milam continued work towards her Ph.D at Columbia University. During World War II, she chaired a large statewide committee responsible for the Nutrition for Defense Program. In 1948 she conducted a survey of the Christian colleges in the Philippines for the Foreign Missions Conference of North America. This resulted in a report recommending the establishment of independent departments of home economics within Philippine colleges to teach dietitians, nutritionists, hotel and restaurant managers, and home demonstration agents to recover the country from widespread destruction occurring during WWII.

In 1950, Ava Milam retired from Oregon State College and was made Dean Emeritus. In 1951 and 1952, she served as a home economics advisor to the governments of Syria and Iraq for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, pioneering improvements to home economics education for women in these countries, surveying vocational education opportunities, and setting up teaching-training programs. She also visited Lebanon and Egypt in this role, attending the World's Young Women's Christian Associations Council Meeting, and the World Council of Churches Conference on the Middle East Refugee Problem.

In 1952 she was reacquainted with Jesse Claude (J. C.) Clark, whom she had met in China in 1922 while he was heading the Young Men's Christian Association in China. After a brief courtship, J.C. and Ava were married on November 1, 1952. J.C. and Ava traveled extensively during their short marriage, visiting many countries that she had traveled to throughout her career, and spent time at Ava's beloved summer home on the McKenzie River, Grayling.  J.C. died after a brief illness on August 29, 1956. Ava Milam received the Distinguished Service Award from OSU in 1966 and the same award from Yonsei University in 1968. She published her memoirs, Adventures of a Home Economist, in 1969, with assistance from J. Kenneth Munford. Ava Milam Clark died on August 14, 1976.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Ava Milam Clark Papers are comprised of materials representing the professional and personal life of home economist Ava Milam Clark. The collection includes correspondence, historical documents related to the administration of home economics programs at Oregon Agricultural College and Oregon State College, materials related to her work overseas, sources used in the preparation of her autobiography, and personal materials. These materials represent Clark's role in shaping home economics as a field of study in Oregon, the United States, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Syria, and document her lifelong emphasis on a research-based approach to home economics. These materials broadly reflect her belief in the power of a scientific mindset applied to the home, and her advocacy for home economic courses that emphasized applied elements of biochemistry, physics, chemistry, psychology, and sociology.

Correspondence in Series 1 is dense and varied in content, and demonstrates the reach of her influence and impact on the field through many letters with notable figures over a forty-year period. The materials in Series 2: Home Economics at Oregon State show her efforts to bring an international element to the program, and are rich in documents showing the evolution of the curriculum. The largest and most diverse series, Series 3: Home Economics Abroad, show her work to establish and reform home economics as a field in Asia, the Middle East, and the Philippines. Materials in Series 4: Adventures of a Home Economist, include source materials used in the preparation of her autobiography, and multiple drafts of nearly every chapter. Series 5: Personal Materials reflect Clark's family life, religious beliefs, and long-time friends.

The collection is particularly strong in sources related to her work abroad. Evidence of the impact of these travels on her life appears in each series. A notable gap in the collection occurs between the years of 1940-1948, when correspondence and other types of documents are limited.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Ava Milam Clark Papers (MSS ClarkAvaM), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Correspondence, 1903-1971Return to Top

This series contains both personal and professional correspondence spanning the life and career of Ava Milam Clark. Comprised of both sent and recieved letters, this series contains hundreds of letters from Clark's colleagues in the field of home economics all over the world. Much of the professional correspondence is related to Clark's work abroad and her role as Dean of the School of Home Economics at Oregon State College. Of particular note in this series are the many long "diary letters" written by Clark to friends and family in the U.S. while she was traveling. These lengthy narratives give detailed, rich descriptions of the countries she is visiting, and include abundant information related to what she was seeing related to cultural customs, homes, manners, food, sanitation, as well as descriptive vignettes of the landscape and people and anecdotes of her travel. These can be found in correspondence folders for each of the years that Clark traveled abroad, but letters from her 1922, 1937, and 1948 trips to Asia are particularly detailed. Also of note in this series are letters from many pioneers in the field of home economics and social sciences, including Jane Addams, Marion Talbot, and Sophonsiba Breckenridge, and letters from Arthur B. Carson of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions describing post-war Manila in detail.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1.1
Correspondence
1903-1919
1.2
Correspondence
1920-1922
1.3
Correspondence
1923
1.4
Correspondence
1924-1939
1.5
Correspondence
1930-1934
1.6
Correspondence
1935-1936
2.1
Correspondence
1940-1948
2.2
Correspondence
1948
2.3
Correspondence
1949-1950
2.4
Correspondence
1951
2.5
Correspondence
1952
2.6
Correspondence
1952-1968
2.7
Correspondence
1953-1954
3.1
Condolence letters and telegrams
1956-1957
3.2
Correspondence
1955-1957
3.3
Correspondence
1958-1966
3.4
Correspondence
1967-1968
3.5
Correspondence
1968-1971
3.6
Correspondence
1969-1971
3.7
Correspondence
undated

Series 2:  Home Economics at OSU, 1889-1968Return to Top

This series includes internal department documents, newsletters, and outreach materials related to the School of Home Economics at Oregon State College over several decades. Particularly unique documents in this series include accounts of Oregon State's presence at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, as well as student reports of a 1937 home economics study tour of Asia. Dean Milam's speeches and radio talks on home economics are a primary feature of this series, including a radio series for KOAC on home life in foreign countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Burma, India, Egypt, and Palestine, and interviews with home exchange students from Finland and South Africa. This series also includes more than 100 letters sent from OSC home economics alumnae to Dean Milam on the occasion of her retirement.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4.1
Faculty list
1889-1970
4.2
"A Model for Branch Association of Home Economics," Sarah Louise Arnold
1910-1943
4.3
Newspaper clippings
1922-1969
4.4
"Camp Cookery," by Ava Milam and Ruth McNary Smith
1913, 1918
4.5
Biennial reports for School of Home Economics
1917-1969
4.6
Student projects
1915-1946
4.7
Reports, speeches, and articles
1917-1969
4.8
Articles on and interviews with Ava Milam
1917-1950
4.9
Speeches by Ava Milam
circa 1920-1940
4.10
Student papers and term reports
1923-1950
4.11
Education for women
1923-1953
4.12
Articles on home economics
1925-1969
5.1
Home Economics Alumni Newsletter
1931-1961
5.2
Radio talks on foreign countries
1933-1952
5.3
Radio talks on home economics
1933-1966
5.4
Oregon Home Economics Association
1936-1956
5.5
50th, 60th, and 75th anniversary events
1937-1968
5.6
Home economics programs at U. S. universities
1937-1967
5.7
Photographs, Home Economics Study Tour
P152:35
1937
5.8
Student reports for Home Economics Study Tour
1937
5.9
Book of letters from former students and colleagues
1950
6.1
Presentations by Ava Milam Clark
circa 1950
6.2
Conference on Home Economics and Education in Nutrition, Trinidad
1952
6.3
Awards
1968
6.4
OSU Home Economics Alumni Conference
1968

Series 3:  Home Economics Abroad, 1914-1969Return to Top

This series is comprised of notes, reports, surveys, newsletters, and manuscripts related to Ava Milam's work abroad in the countries of China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. These materials document Ava Milam's work to begin programs of home economics in each of these countries. Her work at Yenching University and her survey of student homes in China are extensively documented, as is her sojourn in the Middle East as a home economist for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Container(s) Description Dates
Sub-Series 1: China, Japan, and Korea
Of particular importance in this subseries are lengthy, detailed letters from the President of Yenching University, J. Leighton Stuart, in Peiping (now Beijing) China, to the University Board of Trustees giving detailed first-hand accounts of the Japanese invasion and occupation during the Sino-Japanese war from 1937-1946, as well as Ava Milam's detailed journal of her trip to Japan in 1922.
1922-1969
Box/Folder
6.5
Travel diary in China and Japan
1922-1923
6.6
Notes on problems and solutions with Korean home life
1922
6.7
Yenching University
1924-1969
6.8
Student papers on Korean diet
1924-1926
6.9
Speeches on Asia
1930-1961
6.10
J. Leighton Stuart letters to Yenching University Board of Trustees
1936-1940
6.11
J. Leighton Stuart letters to Yenching University Board of Trustees
1940-1946
6.12
Notes on home economics in China
1945-1963
6.13
Travel documents
1948
7.1
Journal of Home Economics, Yonsei University Seoul
1968
7.2
Tourist site photographs
1922-1948
7.3
Friends in China, photographs
Includes P152:26-33
1922-1948
7.4
Tourist sites and friends, larger photographs
1922-1948
7.5
Photographs, Yenching University
1922-1948
18.1
Nitrate negatives
Includes multiple views of numerous tourist sites in China.
1915-1930
Sub-Series 2: "A Study of Student Homes in China"
This subseries is comprised of notes, reports, and surveys related to Ava Milam Clark's first trip to China. On this trip she conducted a survey of Chinese home and family customs, which was later published in 1930. Of particular note in this suberies is a copy of the blank survey she devised, and summaries of the responses to the survey by Ava Milam.
1914-1949
Box/Folder
7.6
Notes and reports on family life in China
1914-1949
7.7
Notes and reports derived from survey
1922
7.8
Reports on Chinese marriage customs
1922-1924
7.9
Notes and reports on Chinese family customs
1924
7.10
Manuscript, A Study of Student Homes in China
1929-1930
8.1
Book, A Study of Student Homes in China
1930
8.2
Book reviews
1930-1932
Sub-Series 3: Philippines
The materials in this small subseries primarily document Ava Milam's trip to the Philippines in 1948 to survey schools and colleges there under the auspices of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, and the Association of Christian Schools and Colleges. Notable in this series are a few field surveys conducted with citizens, and copies of her final report, written with Donald P. Cottrell.
1945-1952
Box/Folder
8.3
Survey materials on schools and colleges
1945-1952
8.4
Photographs
1922-1948
Sub-Series 4: Middle East
The materials in this subseries document Ava Milam's work as a consultant to the governments of Syria and Iraq in her role as a home economist in the Technical Assistance Program on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Of particular note in this subseries are materials related to the two-week home economics workshop conducted in Syria in 1951, including course materials in Arabic and planning documents. Also of note are her monthly field progress reports from Iraq, which give detailed narratives of conditions there, and her official reports to the governments of Syria and Iraq.
1946-1953
Box/Folder
8.5
Background reports on the Middle East
1946-1951
8.6
FAO workshop in Syria
1946-1952
8.7
Travel information for Iraq
1949-1952
8.8
Food and Agriculture Organization
1950-1952
8.9
Education and home economics in Iraq
1951-1952
8.10
Monthly field progress reports, Iraq
1951-1952
8.11
Syria
1951-1953
8.12
Syrian workshop materials
1951
8.13
Lebanon and Egypt conferences
1951
8.14
Queen Aliya College home economics programs
1952
8.15
Report on a Mission to Iraq, UN Food and Agrigulture Organization, by Graham Savage, John McClelland, and Ava Milam
1953
9.1
Report to the Government of Iraq on Home Economics, by Ava Milam
1952
9.2
Report to the Government of Syria on Home Economics, by Ava Milam
1951
9.3
Photographs
1951-1952

Series 4:  Adventures of a Home Economist, 1909-1972Return to Top

This series is comprised of notes, drafts, and source materials related to Ava Milam Clark's autobiography, Adventures of a Home Economist, published in 1968 by Oregon State University Press. With co-writer J. Kenneth Munford, Ava Milam Clark wrote a compelling and detailed autobiography including excerpts from her "diary letters" of travel and other extensive documentation. The source materials in these files are comprised of correspondence, clippings, offprints, notes, newspapers, publications, transcripts, and other original documentation from the time period of the relevant chapter. Also included are drafts and notes on the manuscript in its various stages. Notable in this series are folders of correspondence from young women who were in the home economics program in 1915, when the department ran a tearoom on the grounds of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, offering their personal memories of the experience to Ava Milam Clark to assist with her autobiography. Also of note are her manuscript notes on a survey of schools and colleges in the Philippines, as well as hundreds of letters of support sent to Ava from friends and readers of the book.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
9.4
Drafts for Chapter 1: The First Day
1965
9.5
Drafts for Chapter 1: The First Day
undated
9.6
Drafts for Chapter 2: Early Life
circa 1965
9.7
Source materials for Chapter 2: Early Life
1966
9.8
Sources materials and drafts for Chapter 3: University of Chicago
1966
9.9
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 3: University of Chicago
1942-1966
9.10
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 4: Development of Home Economics
1950-1966
9.11
Source materials and draft for Chapter 4: Early Pioneers
1928-1967
9.12
Journal offprints for Chapter 4: Early Pioneers
1909-1947
10.1
Source materials and draft for Chapter 5: A Busy First Year
1915-1967
10.2
Source materials and draft for Chapter 6: Home Economics Extension
1913-1968
10.3
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 7: Two Deans
1919-1967
10.4
Source materials and draft for Chapter 8: Tearoom at the Fair
1915-1967
10.5
Correspondence from former students about 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition experience
1966
10.6
Source materials for Chapter 9: New Horizons
1920-1929
10.7
Source materials for Chapter 10: Expansion
1917-1966
11.1
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 11: AHEA
1967
11.2
Drafts for Chapter 12: China
1966
11.3
Drafts for Chapter 12: China
1966
11.4
Drafts for Chapter 12: China
undated
11.5
Drafts for Chapter 13: Return from China
1966
11.6
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 14: Home Economics Research
1930-1967
11.7
Source materials for Chapter 14: Home Economics Research
1911-1965
11.8
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 17: Encounter
1937
12.1
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 18: Turbulent Decade
1944-1948
12.2
Source materials for Chapter 19: Ambassador
1948-1966
12.3
Source materials for Chapter 20: Survey
1945-1948
12.4
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 22: Syria
1930-1955
12.5
Source materials for Chapter 24: JC Clark
1904-1966
12.6
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 24: JC Clark
1912-1966
12.7
Source materials and drafts for Chapter 26: No Place Like Home
1965-1967
13.1
Biographical materials
1917-1966
13.2
Travel itineraries
1948-1958
13.3
OSU Press
1963-1967
13.4
Notes
undated
13.5
Mailing lists
undated
13.6
Bibliography
undated
13.7
Reader comments
1966-1970
13.8
Reader comments
1966
13.9
Reader comments
1966
13.10
Reader comments
1966
14.1
Reader comments
1967-1968
14.2
Reader comments
1969
14.3
Reader comments
1970-1972
14.4
Reviews
1968-1969

Series 5:  Personal Materials, 1856-1971Return to Top

This series includes notes and biographical documents generated by Ava Milam in her personal life. Of particular note are an 1856 slave deed from a distant relative included as part of her family documents, and blueprints and plans for the house in Corvallis that she designed herself. Her involvement with the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship in the years after J.C.'s death is documented in this series, including notes and transcripts from several sittings with noted psychic and spiritual medium Arthur Ford.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
14.5
Awards and citations
1945-1971
14.6
Biographical materials
1889-1955
14.7
House plans
circa 1920s-1940
15.1
Calendars
1955-1956
15.2
J.C. Clark letters
1951-1952
15.3
J.C. Clark estate settlement
1956
15.4
JC Clark biographical materials
1966
15.5
Family documents
1856-1956
15.6
Foreign addresses
1923-1955
15.7
Guest books for receptions
1950, 1966
15.8
Guest book for Corvallis home
1936-1958
15.9
Guest book for Grayling
1936-1956
16.1
Passports
1923-1956
16.2
Photographs, Blees Military Academy
Includes P152:11; includes film negatives
1905-1907
16.3
Photographs, Ava Milam Clark
Includes P152:22
circa 1922-1968
16.4
Photographs, friends
Includes P152:12, P152:14, P152:24
1922-1970
16.5
Photographs, Ava and JC Clark
Includes P152:08
1952-1956
16.6
Photographs of Corvallis home and Grayling summer home
Includes P152:10, P152:15, P152:16, P152:17, P152:18, P152:19, P152:20
circa 1925-circa 1950
16.7
Photographs, family
Includes P152:09, P152:21, P152:23, P152:36; P152:37; includes film negatives
1900-1907
16.8
Photographs, foreign exchange students
circa 1949
17.1
Poetry and quotations
1920-1966
17.2
Notes
undated
17.3
Radio transcripts
1941-1947
17.4
Recipes and menus
undated
17.5
Religious materials
1938-1968
17.6
Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship
1955-1961
17.7
Transcripts of sittings
1955-1960
17.8
University of Chicago thesis and materials
1910-1911
18.1
Nitrate negatives
Unidentified family and friends.
circa 1915-1930

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Family life surveys--China.
  • Home economics--China.
  • Home economics--International cooperation.
  • Home economics--Iraq.
  • Home economics--Japan.
  • Home economics--Korea.
  • Home economics--Oregon.
  • Home economics--Philippines.
  • Home economics--Study and teaching--China.
  • Home economics--Study and teaching--Oregon.
  • Home economics--Syria.
  • Personal Names :
  • Clark, Ava Milam, 1884-1976.
  • Clark, J. C. (Jesse Claude), 1881-1956.
  • Snell, Margaret Comstock, 1843-1923.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Blees Military Academy.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Oregon State College. School of Home Economics.
  • Yanjing da xue.
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Film negatives.
  • Nitrate negatives.
  • Photographic prints.
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Clark, J. C. (Jesse Claude), 1881-1956. (creator)
    • Munford, James Kenneth. (creator)
    • Stuart, John Leighton, 1876-1962. (creator)