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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - K-State Women
Nellie (Sawyer) Kedzie Jones (1858-1956)

Nellie Kedzie Nellie Sawyer was born in Madison, ME, on Aug. 2, 1858. Her family moved to Ottawa, KS, in 1870. She spent two years at Kansas State Agricultural College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1876, teaching at Milford, KS, in 1876 and in Ottawa, KS, 1879-1881. She married Robert F. Kedzie on Dec. 28, 1881, and moved to Mississippi, where he was a professor of Chemistry at Mississippi College. Seven weeks later, Nellie was widowed and returned to Topeka, KS, in Feb. 1882. At the personal request of President Fairchild, she accepted a position to teach household economy at KSAC, 1882. She received her Master's degree in 1883. Her thesis was entitled: "Science in Woman's Life." In 1887, she was given the rank of professorship, becoming the first female KSAC graduate to become head of a department at the college. She lobbied before the Kansas Legislature to secure funding for a home economics building. Funding for Domestic Science Hall, the first building in the U.S. built for the sole purpose of teaching home economics, was approved in 1897. This was the same year that the Populist Party gained power in the Kansas Board of Regents, and fired the entire staff at KSAC. Nellie Kedzie was given the opportunity to be rehired, but she declined. Instead, she became professor of Domestic Economy at Bradley Polytechnic Institute at Peoria, IL, 1897-1901. She married professor Howard Murray Jones in Peoria, IL, on July 17, 1901, and joined him at Berea College in Kentucky where she taught, 1901-1903. Domestic Science Hall at KSAC was renamed Kedzie Hall in honor of Nellie Kedzie in 1902. Howard Jones became a minister and they lived in Kalamazoo, MI, 1903-1909, Minneapolis, MN, 1909-1911, and Auburndale, WI, 1911-1918. She became Home Economics Extension leader at the University of Wisconsin, 1918-1933. KSAC gave her an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1925. She was the first woman to be granted an emeritus professorship by the University of Wisconsin in 1933. Nellie Kedzie Jones died on April 19, 1956.

Sources of information:

History Index. Jones, Nellie Kedzie; Kedzie, Nellie Sawyer; Sawyer, Nellie
Vertical File. Jones, Nellie Kedzie
Photograph Collection-People. Kedzie Nellie
K-Stater, October 1953, pg. 18; October 1954, pg. 6

One box of papers contained in the Human Ecology Historical Records is of particular interest to anyone interested in Nellie Kedzie Jones. It contains a substantial number of Nellie's writings on a variety of topics, photographs and newspaper clippings documenting her life from her days as a student at KSAC to her death. Correspondence with and clippings about David Fairchild and Abbie Marlatt are also contained within this box.

1 box. Acc. No. U 89.16