History of the Betty Lamp


History of Home Economics (Cornell University web site)

A Brief History of AAFCS / PAFCS


Our Founder

In 1909, Ellen H. Richards founded the American Home Economics Association. Ms. Richards was the first female graduate and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an activist for consumer education, nutrition, child protection, industrial safety, public health, career education, women's rights; purity of air, food, and water, and the application of scientific and management principles to the family. Her professional experience and foresight led to the formalization of the family and consumer sciences profession.


Our Symbol
In 1926, the American Home Economics Association adopted the betty lamp  as a symbol for the association. The lamp derived its name from the German words "besser" or "bete," meaning "to make better." The Betty Lamp produced comparatively good light for its time and was used widely by early American colonists. Mildred Chamberlain of
Chicago submitted the design stating, "The lamp in colonial days provided light for all household industries." Similarly, the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) provides enlightenment through leadership in thought and action for family and consumer sciences professionals.

Our Focus
Today, AAFCS strives to improve the quality and standards of individual and family life by providing educational programs, influencing public policy and through communication. More than 10,000+ members work to empower individuals, strengthen families and enable communities.

Our members focus on an integrative approach to the reciprocal relationships among individuals, families and communities, as well as the environments in which they function. The association supports the profession as it provides leadership in:

improving individual, family and community well being;

impacting the development, delivery and evaluation of consumer goods and services;

influencing the creation of public policy; and

shaping social change.


AAFCS is the only national organization representing family and consumer sciences professionals across practice areas and content specializations. Our members provide guidance and practical knowledge about the things of everyday life, including human growth and development, personal behavior, housing and environment, food and nutrition, apparel and textiles, and resource management, so that students and consumers can make sound decisions and enjoy a healthy, productive and more fulfilling life.



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