Daily Archives: March 13, 2009

Dr. Snell and the College of Home Economics

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Margaret Comstock Snell was known as one of the truly great faculty members in the history of OSU. Respected and admired by everyone who knew her, Snell’s greatest contribution was the establishment of the first college of home economics in the West — and she did so with 24 students, no assistants, almost no budget, and a lone classroom on the third floor of Benton Hall.

She was born to Quaker parents near the town of Livingston, New York, in 1843, attended Cedar Grove Academy, and graduated from Grinnell College. After teaching in Iowa City from 1872 to 1879, Snell moved to Benicia, California, to establish a school for young women; she called it the Snell Seminary. Snell developed an interest in medicine and was admitted to the medical school at Boston University, where she graduated with honors in 1886, specializing in homeopathy or household economy. After returning to Oakland she was recruited North to Corvallis by Board of Regents member Wallis Nash and his wife Louisa.

Want to know more about her time at OSU? George Edmonston has written a fine article on Snell, full of details and great quotes!