I picked up a book by Sarah A. Gorden entitled, "Make It Yourself: Home Sewing, Gender, and Culture 1890-1930". I haven't read it yet, but it is only a portion of a multi-media discussion of home economics history. You can see the online portion here: Make It Yourself.
What needs to be stated about early home economics is that there is a deeper social philosophy that is very often overridden by conspicuous consumption. The divide in home economics education, and ultimately people's identity with this field of study, is as to whether home economics is practical, philosophical, social, and/or a study in consumerism.
The fact is that it was and is practical. The philosophy of - or love of thinking about - home economics is that you get knowledge about human activities related to our personal and private lives in a way that shows our diversity and ingenuity. This contributes to the social aspect of home economics in that once we understand our individual endeavors in living, that we can put into practice in a home, in a community, in the world, a more certain institution of justice about when we as humans decide to produce what we will then use to live, or to buy with the money produced from the selling of our labor. But what we decide to buy (rather than produce) with our labor-money is the product of someone else's labor, and that distant, unknowable labor is often unjust in the realm of global consumerism and capitalism.
Here's my bias: I like it when the salsa I make has onions, tomatoes, pepper, tomatillos, cilantro, and garlic that I myself harvested or was harvested by the farmers I can actually say hello to. My own work is in itself just. How can learning and education in home economics transfer such good-feeling justness to those outside of my home? I believe that it takes an active life, not one of pressure where I'm convincing people to make "justice salsa", but rather just practices that contribute to liberation.