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Anderson, Julia Faltinson

Published onJul 30, 2021
Anderson, Julia Faltinson

(August 16, 1919- January 23, 2012)

Quick Facts

Home economics graduate (‘41) Julia Faltinson Anderson’s work incorporated a vision for connecting American and international women and families to adapt to changes in women’s lives, child care and educational opportunities, as well as to changing economic realities in her state.

Julia Marie Faltinson was born in Marengo, Iowa, in 1919, and received her B.S. in home economics from Iowa State College (University) in 1941. Anderson served as a county demonstration agent in Iowa during prewar years, then spent three years working as a lieutenant in intelligence with the US Navy WAVES during World War II. After the war, she earned an MS from the University of Washington. An avid state and local 4-H participant as a child, she returned to Iowa State to work in the 4-H Club office after completing her degree in 1947.

Faltinson joined the Home Economics Division in January 1953 as Assistant Dean. In this role, she ran the orientation course for new students, as well as advising, arranging schedules, and working on committees. Her enthusiasm and experience with 4-H youth helped her establish a great rapport with students, and promoted good faculty- student relationships. Well into her career, she married Marvin Anderson, the dean of the University Extension at ISU, in 1970.

Promotion of Home Economics and recruitment were part of her duties as Assistant Dean; during the mid-1960s she traveled the state as an ambassador for the Home Economics program, appearing at school career days and summer pre-university courses for high school girls. She was also an important recruitment coordinator, planning campus weekend stays for prospective students, who were housed in residence halls with student hosts and received an introduction to programs in the Home Economics division. She organized teams of students to present at area schools, and as educational options for women expanded, continued to argue for the relevance of and career potential in Home Economics study.

Anderson’s work was ahead of its time in anticipating how societal changes that opened an ever-wider variety of academic fields to women would impact her department and her field. To address this change in perception of Home Economics as a potential field of study for young women, she spearheaded an effort to assess the ‘image’ of home economics, and improve the ‘communication’ of the field’s potential for modern young women. Her work culminated in a national conference, held at ISU in 1961, that addressed “image” problems in the field of home economics and proposed better understanding of what the field could really offer.

The mid to late 1960s saw ISU reaching out to Iowans, including low-income families, in a variety of ways. To that end, Anderson began work on the development of a continuing education program that addressed consumer competence, interpersonal competence, and home and family relationships. Courses such as child development, family finance, textiles and clothing, and home economics education were taught in various cities and towns around the state, from Des Moines to Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Waterloo, and elsewhere. When the University Extension program reorganized in 1966, Anderson would become the liaison for the College of Home Economics to the office of Extension Courses and Conferences.

Anderson had a longtime professional interest in international programs and projects. In 1955, she directed a work camp in Austria, and in 1962 she traveled to Nyasaland as leader of a group of youth whose mission to help an African community build a community center. The effort’s larger purpose was to build good relationships and good will by living and working with African students. 1965 brought another work trip to Yugoslavia.

Her international expertise firmly established, her work camp experiences led to other international projects. In 1968, Anderson served as co-director of the ISU Peace Corps internship program, the first of its kind to include home economics and agriculture. This allowed junior and senior undergraduates as well as Masters candidates from the colleges of Home Economics, Agriculture, and Veterinary Medicine to use professional skills in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and Panama, to fulfill their 2-year commitment after graduating with their degree. This program was unique, developed by the Peace Corps after consulting with Faltinson in Washington, D.C.

After retirement, Anderson directed her energies towards community service and served in a diverse array of organizations and capacities outside the university. She was appointed to the Mary Greeley Medical Center Board, the Iowa Division of the United Nations Association Board, served as a chair for the International Relations Committee of the Iowa Division of the AAUW, and was the first woman to serve on the Iowa Banking Board. She also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the ISU Foundation. She received the Helen LeBaron Hilton Recognition through her commitment to international affairs, pursued through work with UNESCO, Partners of the Americas, and USAID. In 1993 Julia was named to the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame and in 1995 she was honored with the Carrie Chapman Catt Award from the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County.  She passed away on January 23, 2012 and is buried in the ISU cemetery.

Selected Resources

“1993 Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree: Julia Faltinson Anderson (1919-2012).” Iowa Department of Human Rights.

Ferguson, Elizabeth S. and Ercel S. Eppright. A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University: A proud past, a lively present, a future promise. Ames: The Iowa State
University Home Economics Alumni Association, 1971.

“Julia Faltinson Anderson, August 16, 1919 – January 23, 2012.” The Ames Tribune. January 25, 2012.

“Julia Faltinson Anderson.” Iowa State University Plaza of Heroines.

Oral History Interview, April 30, 2003. Interviewer:  Mary Ann Evans. Transcript:

Iowa Department of Human Rights, 1993 Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree.

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