Helen Woodard Atwater: A Leader of Leaders


Authors' Note: Melissa J. Wilmarth, PhD, is a Lecturer in Department of Housing and Consumer Economics and Sharon Y. Nickols, PhD, is Professor Emerita Department of Housing and Consumer Economics and Dean Emerita, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia. Please address correspondence to Melissa J. Wilmarth, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Housing and Consumer Economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia, 201 Consumer Research Center (House C), 415 Sanford Dr., Athens, GA 30602; e-mail: wilmarth@uga.edu. The authors would like to express their appreciation to the staff members at the Archives of Wesleyan University, Smith College, and the AAFCS Archives at Cornell University for support of the research process; to the two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions regarding secondary sources; and to the University of Georgia's Graduate School Dean's Award and the Janette M. Barber Fund for support in completing this research.


This article chronicles the life of Helen W. Atwater, a leader of leaders, and emissary for journalistic expertise, home economics, and women's role in civil society. Atwater's career as a writer and editor encompassed three decades in the early twentieth century during which she prepared reports for the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Office of Home Economics, served as the first full-time editor of the Journal of Home Economics, and participated in early public policy advocacy of the American Home Economics Association. Atwater's active membership in many professional organizations contributed to the understanding of home economics outside of the profession.