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This Day in Georgia History

October 15, 1879

Mary Ethel Creswell Born

Mary Ethel Creswell born was born in Ansenville, PA. She was a pioneer in home economics education and extension service work in Georgia. After beginning her career as a teacher in Walton County, Georgia (1901), Creswell steadily moved up the education ladder. She became principal of the State Normal School in Athens, worked with a new extension program for girls and women through the Georgia State College of Agriculture, and eventually served as field agent for girl’s and women’s work in fifteen southern states while working for the U. S. Extension Service. Creswell returned to Georgia in 1915 to direct the state’s home economics program under the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. In 1918 the University of Georgia made Creswell the head of the Division of Home Economics. She was the first recipient of a degree from this program, thus becoming the first woman to receive a degree from the University. After the University’s reorganization in 1933, Creswell became the first dean of the University’s School of Home Economics. She remained in this position until her retirement in 1945. Creswell received numerous awards and commendations for her work, becoming the first woman president of the UGA chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. In 1949 she became the first woman recipient of the Georgia Alumni award for outstanding service to the University. Creswell, for whom the University of Georgia’s Creswell Hall is named, died at home in Athens on August 7, 1960.