Reconceptualizing profession: African American women and dietetics at Tuskegee Institute, 1936–1954

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

This sociohistorical study examines the notions of profession derived by a group of African American women in dietetics at Tuskegee Institute, one of the preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Deep South. Using archival data and oral history interviews of 10 African American women, the study examines the model by which faculty members of Tuskegee Institute proceeded to transform an industrial and paternalistic educational program into one that met the criteria for professional credentialing by the nearly all-white and feminized American Dietetic Association. This dissertation begins with the founding of the Institute during the post-Civil War era to examine the ideology and the methods that structured women's education in dietetics at Tuskegee in order to explore the reconceptualizing of profession among faculty members and students of that program from Great Depression in 1936 to the establishment of an ADA-approved dietetic internship during desegregation movement in 1954. Primary sources included campus publications, the local newspaper, college catalogs, and transcriptions of semi-structured oral history interviews in addition to the literature on profession, including that of the dietetics profession. The Tuskegee model did not conform to the Eurocentric model for the professionalizing of an occupation. In advancing the dietetics education curriculum, Tuskegee faculty members responded to opportunities and to the needs of the race, thereby shaping the way African American women evolved professionally and the notions they derived from the process. The women's notions of profession expressed as values, conduct, role conceptualization and how they went about their work emerge in this history. This study helps to fill a void in the literature on the educational history of American women. It can prove useful in developing organizing principles for structuring programs that incorporate the interests of African American women. It can offer a more rational basis for decision-making and a way to evaluate proposed changes for future developments in professional education. The study can be helpful to young women students and faculty members in identifying the impact that racism and sexism can have on their academic and personal lives. Finally, the information resulting from this investigation adds to the existing knowledge on professionalization.

Indexing (details)

Higher education;
Education history;
Home economics education;
African Americans;
Womens studies
0745: Higher education
0520: Education history
0278: Home economics education
0325: African Americans
0453: Womens studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; African-American; Alabama; Dietetics; Historically Black; Profession; Tuskegee Institute; Women educators
Reconceptualizing profession: African American women and dietetics at Tuskegee Institute, 1936–1954
Burley, Laurita Mack
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542022678, 0542022672
Hutcheson, Philo A.
Georgia State University
University location
United States -- Georgia
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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