Practice Babies: Background information when reading The Irresistible Henry House

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The Irresistible Henry House

A Novel

by Lisa Grunwald

The Irresistible Henry House
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2010, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2011, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Practice Babies

All it took was the unexpected image of a cute, bare-bottomed baby to set the wheels of The Irresistible Henry House in motion. While Lisa Grunwald was researching another book, she happened upon an online exhibition detailing the history of Cornell University's home economics program which ran from 1900-1969. Originally established as a way to apply science in areas of home, farm, and family, Cornell's home ec. program implemented the use of live babies to mirror real-life domestic settings.

Incredible? Though it's too outrageous to imagine the use of a live baby as a teaching tool in today's educational settings, that's precisely what went on in the "practice apartments" of Cornell's home economics program back in 1919. According to the Cornell site, the first practice baby was named Dicky Domecon, short for "domestic economy."

Borrowed from area orphanages and child welfare agencies, these practice babies were used to "replicate the full domestic ...

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