Helen LeBaron Hilton

Hilton, Helen

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

High school teacher, professor and state and college administrator in Home Economics field. Deep involvement in state-wide programs, organizations and research in this field. Was one of the first women serving as member of corporate board of two different corporations. First woman member of Ames, Iowa City Council. Started career in Vermont but spent most of her life in Iowa.

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Primary Residence

Enosburg Falls



Historical Significance

Helen LeBaron Hilton is most well-known to Vermonters for her work in education at Enosburg Falls High School, the University of Vermont, and the Vermont State Department of Education. However, it was in Iowa where Hilton made her most significant impact where she was the Dean of the Home Economics College at Iowa State University, urging her students to become involved in public policy-making and programs that would benefit families.

Hilton was born in Morrisville, Vermont in 1910. She received a B.S. from the University of Vermont in 1932 and went on to receive a M.S. from Cornell University in 1938. In 1946, UVM awarded her the degree of Doctor of Science. She taught Home Economics for three years at Enosburg Falls High School and another three years as assistant supervisor of Home Economics education in the Vermont State Department of Education. Following this, she was then appointed assistant professor in charge of Home Economic education at UVM and state supervisor of the Department of Education. She moved to Pennsylvania thereafter where she was professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Home Economics at Penn State from 1946-1952.

In September of 1952, Hilton relocated to Iowa State where she became Dean of their College of Home Economics and remained in this position until 1975. Not only was she involved in the undergraduate and graduate program of Home Economics, but also state-wide programs and research in the field. Throughout the majority of the '50s and '60s, Hilton was college editor of home economics books for Harper and Rowe. She was also in charge of the Baroda University project, which was a ten-year Iowa State University endeavor that was sponsored by the Ford Foundation to aid in the development of a graduate and research program in home science at the M.S. University Baroda in India. This lasted from 1960 until 1970. On May 24, 1970 she married James Harold Hilton, who was the tenth president of Iowa State University. It was also during this time that she became the first president of the Association of Home Economics Administrators. Following this period, she became Dean Emeritus and a retirement counselor for the university until 1980.

Throughout her career, Hilton was a dignified leader in civil service, locally as well as nationally. She was the first woman elected to the Ames City Council, and following this, became active in numerous health and educational local organizations. At the state level, she was a member of the Governor's Commission on Children and Youth in the 1960s; advisor to the American Home Department of the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs (1953-1975); a member of the Governor's Commission of the Status of Women (1971); a board member of the Iowa Children's and Family Service (1974-1979), and vice president (1976-1978), and in 1983 she was elected to the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She was also very active on the national level, serving under the Kennedy and Eisenhower administrations as a member of both the panel of vocational education and the National Committee on Children and Youth. There were a number of other important associations of which she was a part that include the Commission on the Education of Women, Commission of Academic Affairs of the American Council of Education, the American Home Economic Association, the Land-Grant Association, the Commission on Home Economics of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the American Dietetics Association. She was also the first woman member of two corporate boards of directors which were Jewel Companies, Inc. and S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. Iowa State University named the south wing of the Home Economics Building after her and in 1983, she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. Other honorary awards received by her were the first Ames League of Women Voters Carrie Chapman Catt Award, and being named the first honorary alumna from the College of Family.

Organizations or Movements

  • Association of Home Economics Administrators
  • Iowa Governor's Commission on Children and Youth
  • Iowa Governor's Commission of the Status of Women
  • National Committee on Children and Youth
  • Commission on the Education of Women
  • Commission of Academic Affairs of the American Council of Education
  • American Home Economic Association
  • Land-Grant Association
  • Commission on Home Economics of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
  • American Dietetics Association


  • Teacher and college professor of Home Economics
  • college adminstrator.


  • B.S., University of Vermont (1932)
  • M.S., Cornell University (1948)
  • University of Vermont, Doctor of Science (1946)

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Iowa Commission on the Status of Women Link

  • Helen LeBaron Hilton Papers Link

  • First Carrie Chapman Catt Award to Helen LeBaron Hilton in 1993 Link