Richards, Ellen Henrietta Swallow, 1842–1911, American chemist, educator, and organizer of the home economics movement, b. Dunstable, Mass., grad. Vassar, 1870. In 1870 she began the study of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, being the first woman to enter that school, and from 1884 until her death was an instructor there in sanitary chemistry. She became a pioneer in the systematizing and simplifying of housekeeping to free women for other activities. The last 30 years of her life were given to the development of what she called euthenics, "the science of controlled environment." With the spur of her enthusiasm and scientific knowledge, the teaching of home economics made rapid progress in the first decade of the 20th cent. She was an organizer and first president (1908) of the American Home Economics Association. Her publications include Euthenics (1910) and Conservation by Sanitation (1911).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.