Faculty profile

Gwen Kay

Graduate Program Director


429 Mahar Hall


History of home economics education (college level), 1870-2000; bioethical questions from patient, popular and physician perspective in Upstate NY 1870-1900.

Specialty area:

  • history of medicine and science
  • Progressive Era America
  • women's history


  • "If it did not exist, it would have to be invented": "Home Economics in Transition at Iowa's Regents Institutions" The Annals of Iowa, Spring 2011
  • Andrew Smiler, Gwen Kay and Benamin Harris, "Tightening and Loosening Masculinity's (k)Nots: Masculinity in the Hearst Press during the Interwar Period," Journal of Men's Studies 16(3): 266-279 (Fall 2008)
  • "Dying to be Beautiful": The Fight for Safe Cosmetics (Ohio State University Press, 2005) and winner 2005 American Nurses Association for book of the year.
  • "Seeing the Fair the FDA Way: The 1933 Century of Progress Exposition," Journal of Illinois History 5(3): 197-212 (Fall 2002)
  • "Healthy Public Relations: The FDA's 1930s Legislative Campaign": Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Fall 2001
  • "Beauty and Business," Enterprise and Society, 1(1).
  • Teaching Honors, Awards, Distinctions:
  • Societe Chimie d'Industrielle (American Branch) Inaugural Fellow, Chemical Heritage Foundation, 1999

Awards and honors

  • Business and Professional Women's Grant, Texas Women's University Libraries (2010)
  • State Historical Society ofIowa Research Greant (2008)
  • Dean's Fellowship in the History of Home Economics, Cornell University (2008, 2006)


Ph.D., Yale University (History of Medicine and Science), 1997
BA, Bowdoin College (Biology; History), 1991

Classes taught

Honors 141: American Intellectual Heritage
History 248
Honors 201: The American Experience
His 368: American Medical Issues
His 650: American History Seminar