Dining on the Rails: Menus from Norfolk & Western

Dining on the railroad can be quite an experience…from a historical perspective, of course. In 2012, Special Collections acquired a collection of Norfolk & Western menus. They range from the full-color, glossy-covered, multi-course meal to the single sheet, ephemeral list of snacks you might find on a shorter journey. And they don’t just cover food. Our collection includes a beverage (with cocktails!) menu that feature drinks, cigarettes, playing cards, AND aspirin. The collection even contains two unused checks for dining car service. Although we can’t date the collection (or the items) specifically, the contents suggest that they start around World War II and may go through the 1960s.

 

 

The finding aid for this collection is available online. The entire collection has been scanned and I hope to have it up on the web soon, but until then, enjoying this sampling. Whether you were in the mood for an omelette, a steak, a salad (the “famous salad bowl,” of course!), or Virginia apple pie (baked on the train!), N&W had you covered. It’s interesting to see how complex some of the meals and meal choices were and one wonders about the challenges of preparing food on the train.

So, until next week, hop on board with the “Nation’s Going-est Railroad” and check out your choices!

A Culinary Tour (Of Special Collections)

You'll see a variety of bindings from the 18th century to the modern age.

Some of you may have had the opportunity to visit Special Collections and see an exhibit in person. I’ve also posted photographs from a culinary-related exhibit or event on the blog before. If you’re lucky, you may have also had a chance to come behind-the-scenes and see parts of the collection in its natural habitat. Once in a while, we have visitors who ask “can I see the culinary collection?” It certainly won’t fit in the reading room, but if that question really means “can I see the books the shelf?” I’m usually happy to oblige. Although our goals here are about preservation, they are also about access. While you can’t hang out in our closed stacks to browse, a guided tour of Special Collections is a great way to better understand what we do and how we do it. This week, I’ve put together a slide show mini-tour of the History of Food & Drink Collection, in case you’re curious to see books and boxes on shelves. :)

Our rare book collection is cataloged according to Library of Congress Call Numbers. Most (but not all) materials in the TX sections from about the 600′s to the 900′s. We further divide books based on size, in order to maximize shelf space. We have “small” books (under 22cm), “large” books (22-28cm), and folio books (over 28 cm). Our manuscript collections are assigned a number based on the year in which they are processed. Currently, manuscripts are housed in various places in the department, but we’re in the midst of a reorganization that will help us find things more easily. That being said, let’s take a short “walk!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you’re in the area and would like the behind-the-scenes tour in person, let us know. We’re always happy to share our materials, whether it’s culinary history, or one of the other areas in which we collect!

Seeding Spring: Catalogs Galore

Diggs & Beadles seeds, 1930

Diggs & Beadles seeds, 1930

Spring has (at least for now) arrived in Blacksburg. (Although this week we seem to have crashed headlong into summer…) A new box of materials arrived with some new seed catalogs, which got me thinking about the seed catalogs we already have. That, and the wonderful post on our Special Collection blog by my colleague about the first edition of another seed catalog I didn’t feature here. They represent both the History of Food & Drink Collection and the materials we have relating agricultural history. Whether you’re talking heirloom varieties in the past or common varieties today, seed catalogs can tell us a good deal about what people were growing both commercially and privately in the 19th and 20th century. And, you can still find print seed catalogs today from companies that have been in business for more than 100 years, in some cases! (Burpee, I’m looking at you!) Certainly, there are online ones, too, but the fact that print seed catalogs are still made says something about the link between form and physical design.

Seed catalogs as a items themselves, if we ignore the content for a moment, are fun to consider. They feature brilliantly colored covers that make it hard not to stop and look! (What can I say, I’m fond of cover art, whether it’s seed catalogs, cookbooks, or science fiction!)

Most seed catalogs do contain illustrations inside, too. (It’s important to know what your plants will look like!). However, most are in black and white. The occasional catalog will surprise you, though, as with Vaughan’s Gardening Illustrated from 1927. It features full color flowers (although the vegetable pages are still black and white).

Even catalogs without too color are fun. And you never know what might be inside! The 1870 Vick’s Illustrated Catalogue and Floral Guide features a Victorian-decorated cover and large illustrations. The 1899 J. A. Everitt catalog still includes the original order form and envelope. (The cover almost makes it look like tomatoes grow on trees, as suggestion of the quality of the seeds you can get.)

Of course you can use seed catalogs to see what be being bought and sold, what the prices were, and how companies were marketing their seeds. But today’s post is meant to remind you that we can think about them (and many other items in the History of Food & Drink Collection) as objects (and maybe even objets d’art) and not just as a mechanism to convey information.

We have LOTS more where these came from (not even counting the new ones I mentioned that just arrived this week), so if you like seeds, cover art, or agricultural history, feel free to stop by. We can find something fun for everyone. And happy gardening!

Women’s History Month, Part 8: Amelia Simmons (fl. late 18th century)

Since last week, I’ve been running around with the idea in my head that I wanted to write about a first: namely, the author of the first known American cookbook, Amelia Simmons. We aren’t lucky enough to own an early edition of the treasured American Cookery, or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake: Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life (first published in 1796), but we do have a 1996 reprint of the second 1796 edition. (Oh, how I do enjoy a long cookbook title!)

Below I’m sharing the book itself, but profiling Amelia turns out to be a near-impossibility! Her history is gleaned in bits and pieces. There’s a wonderful biography of what is known and speculated about her online at the Feeding America project from MSU. I won’t re-hash it here, but it is a great read and I recommend it.

 

American Cookery was first published in 1796. The country was young, still creating an identity. American food culture, influenced by Simmons and some of her receipts, was developing right along with it. Certainly this and other publications relied on mostly British cooking and British cookbooks would remain popular and common in America for decades to come. However, Simmons’ receipts incorporated native ingredients, most notably cornmeal (Indian meal), and, by the 1798 edition, advice for how to improve access to resources for cooking (“The cultivation of Rabbits would be profitable in America”).  Simmon’s recipes include the use of pearl ash (also called “pot ash”), which functioned as a precursor to what we consider modern baking powder, still about 50 years ahead of her time. The final page of our edition also contains directions for “emptins,” an ingredient that worked as a kind of yeast. Simmon’s book wasn’t only about recipes, but cooking and baking as processes in the home. The 1798 edition offered was expanded to offer information on growing and choosing foods, as well as preparing them.

Feeding America has a digital copy of the 1798 edition online, for those of you interested in viewing the whole item and Project Gutenburg includes the text of the first 1796 edition, if you’d like to compare. Either way, this book offers us a great peek into the roots of American food and its history. Now, Independence Cake, anyone? :)

Women’s History Month, Part 7: Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer (1849-1937)

This week’s Women’s History Month profile is on Sarah Tyson (Heston) Rorer. Born in Pennsylvania in 1849, she grew up in Buffalo. Her family moved to Philadelphia around 1870, where she met and married her husband, William Albert Rorer. In 1882, she began taking cooking classes at the New Century Club. Within two years, she launched the Philadelphia Cooking School, to educate other women in the art of cooking, dietetics and nutrition, and healthy eating. Over the course of her professional career, she was an educator, author, editor (Ladies Home Journal), columnist, radio show host, dietitian, and lecturer. Her desire to emphasize healthy cooking led her to develop “Philadelphia ice cream,” the recipe for which appears in the works of many later cookbook authors. Her style of ice cream omitted thickening agents (even eggs) and relied instead on fresh ingredients. Her work in dietetics was a significant factor in the creation of the field of hospital dietetics and the feeding of the sick. Some of her later life was spent in state and local politics in Pennsylvania. Rorer died in 1937.

Here in Special Collections, we have 8 of Rorer’s many titles, including two available online:

  • Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book: A Manual of Home Ecomonics, 1886 edition, 1914 edition (available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10354)
  • Hot Weather Dishes, 1888
  • Home Candy Making, 1889
  • Dainty Dishes for All the Year Round, 1890
  • Good Cooking, c.1898
  • Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book: A Manual of Housekeeping, 1902
  • Mrs. Rorer’s Vegetable Cookery and Meat Substitutes: Vegetables with Meat Value, Vegetables to Take the Place of Meat, How to Cook Three Meals a Day without Meat, the Best Ways of Blending Eggs, Milk, and Vegetables, 1909
  • Mrs. Rorer’s Diet for the Sick: Dietetic Treating of Diseases of the Body, What to Eat and What to Avoid in Each Case, Menus and the Proper Selection and Preparation of Recipes, Together with a Physicians’ Ready Reference, 1914 (available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10355)

One of the striking things you might notice, even from this short list of her works, is the trend in titles. Sarah Rorer was a household name and her book titles seem to build on her brand and identity. If you were to look at some of her other titles (check out a previous Culinary Thymes article from the Peacock-Harper Culinary Friends and a wonderful biography from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book), you’ll notice the trend continues. A good percentage of her works begin with “Mrs. Rorer’s.”

Sarah Rorer’s more than 50 year career focused on healthy eating and good nutrition. She continued to influence generations of cookbook authors and educators, as well as the everyday cooks she reached through her columns, lectures, and radio programs. She’s no longer a household name (unless, perhaps, you are a culinary historian), but modern dietetics owes her and her work no small debt.

Sarah Tyson Rorer bridged the 19th and 20th centuries when it came to cooking. Next week, we’ll have our last Women’s History Month profile of 2014,where we’ll go back in time a little further. Without our 18th century author (or maybe authors!) for next week, American cooking may not have developed as it did!

Two Upcoming Events

If you’re in or around Blacksburg, there are two upcoming events you may want to know about! On March 24, 2014, the University Libraries is co-hosting the Third Annual Edible Book Contest with the Blacksburg branch of the Montgomery-Floyd Public Libraries. There’s still plenty of time to register for the event (and we won’t turn you away at the door, either). You can visit the website to find out more and sign up: http://tinyurl.com/AEBC2014. Even if you don’t want to enter, please come to the Blacksburg Public Library from 6-7pm on March 24th. It’s your votes that will help us determine the winners in each category!

3rd Edible Book Contest

And, on March 25th from 5-7pm, the University Libraries will be hosting the Second Annual Appalanche. Appalanche is a celebration of Appalachian culture. This year, the event will include music and food, as well as displays and information about wildflowers, quilting, apples, the Wilderness Road Museum, and more! Your usual archivist/blogger Kira will share images and publications from Special Collections on apples. Be sure to stop by and visit us on the first floor of Newman Library that evening!

Appalanche2014digitalsign

Women’s History Month Profile, Part 6: Lily Haxworth Wallace

Our second profile for Women’s History Month is Lily Haxworth Wallace. Unfortunately, biographical information on Wallace is limited. (A bit surprising, considering both how prolific she was and her connection to at least one major company, but some people remain a mystery!) We know she was born in England and that she trained at the National Training School of Cookery in London, before moving to the United States around 1900. She quickly became connected to the Rumford Company and over the course of her career, authored, edited, and compiled pamphlets and cookbooks sponsored by and featuring Rumford products, as well as a number of general cookbooks.

We have nearly 30 of her publications in our collection here at Virginia Tech, published between 1908 and 1950. Along with the many editions of The Rumford Cook BookThe Rumford Complete Cook Book, and The Revised Rumford Cook Book, we also have:

  • The Modern Cook Book and Household Recipes, 1912, edited and revised by Wallace
  • Rumford Home Recipes, 1913 with Fannie Farmer and Mildred Maddocks
  • Recipes for Biscuits, Muffins, Rolls, etc., between 1920 and 1940
  • Rumford Fruit Recipes, 1927
  • Rumford Common Sense Cook Book, c.1930s
  • The Women’s World Cook Book, c.1931
  • The Lily Wallace New American Cook Book, c.1943
  • The American Family Cook Book, 1950
  • Our Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-022) also contains a number of items by Wallace relating to the Rumford Company

Five editions of The Rumford Cook Book (1908, 1918, 1925, 1926, and 1927) are available online through Virginia Tech. You can find other editions of Wallace’s books and pamphlets online through a variety of resources, too. As you can see from some of our examples above, some of them contain wonderful full color covers and illustrations. Wallace successfully aligned herself with a company in a way that both helped her make a name for herself, while not allowing it to limit her to publishing certain kinds of books and recipes.

Women’s History Month Profile, Part 5: Ruth Berolzheimer (1886-1965)

March means it’s Women’s History Month again and I thought it would be fun, like last year, to profile some awesome women and their roles in American culinary history.

Culinary Arts Institute logo

Culinary Arts Institute logo

We have more than a few of Ruth Berolzheimer’s volumes in our collection. In fact, hers is a name I encountered early on in my work with the History of Food and Drink Collection and one that persistently appears, if I’m hunting for recipes and publications from the 1940s and 1950s. She was a prolific editor of culinary publications as the director of the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago. She edited a series of booklets devoted to various foods. Our holdings include:

  • 250 Classic Cake Recipes, c.1949
  • 250 Delicious Soups, c.1941
  • 250 Superb Pies and Pastries, c.1941 and 1953 editions
  • 250 Ways to Prepare Poultry and Game Birds, c.1940
  • 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
  • 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952
  • 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
  • 500 Delicious Dishes from Leftovers, c.1949
  • 500 Delicious Salads, 1940, 1949, and 1953 editions
  • 500 Snacks, c.1949
  • The Cookie Book, c.1949
  • The Dairy Cook book, c.1941
  • Victory Canning: Preserving, Drying, Smoking, and Pickling of Fresh Foods for Future Use, c.1942
  • The Wartime Cookbook: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942.

Among those not in our holdings are publications on desserts, fish and seafood, potatoes, meat, sandwiches, breads, and candies.

In addition to the themed publications, Ruth Berolzheimer and the Culinary Arts Institute produced a lengthy list of other cookbooks. There were multiple editions of The American Woman’s Cook Book, as well as the wartime variant, The American Women’s Food Stretcher Cook Book: Make Your Ration Points Go Twice as Far, and many editions of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook.

On a related note, I found this great 2008 online article about Ruth and her work, which also includes an interview with one of her nephews: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-cookbook-queen/Content?oid=1106100.

Be sure to check back next week, when the blog features publications from the History of Food and Drink Collection by Lily Haxworth Wallace!

From Tiny Books to Chunky Books

You may recall A Tiny Post on Some Tiny Books that we shared last October, when we acquired three tiny books, one each on salads, sandwiches, and chafing dish recipes. The post ended with a note about the elusive 4th volume in the quartet, The Tiny Book on Cocktails. I’m happy to report that it took a couple of months, but we’ve had success…sort of. Each of the four volumes were published individually in 1905, but finding a copy of The Tiny Book on Cocktails is tricky, as they are few and far between. However, we were able to purchase a rare version of all four books, published together, alternately titled, The Chunky Book.

The Chunky Book spine

The Chunky Book spine

The Chunky Book front cover. The book used to have a strap.

The Chunky Book front cover. The book used to have a strap.

The Chunky Book side view. Yes, it really is chunky!

The Chunky Book side view. Yes, it really is chunky!

The majority of The Chunky Book consists of the three volumes we already have (The Tiny Book on Salads, The Tiny Book on Sandwiches, and The Tiny Book on Chafing Dishes), each one divided by a few blank pages. The last part, however, is our new addition: The Tiny Book on Cocktails. There are some that may seem familiar, some that are forgotten in today’s modern cocktail age, and some that just make you wonder. There’s a table of contents and a short introduction on cocktails and ingredients, with the following note: “A cocktail should never be bottled and should always be made at the time of drinking. A bottled cocktail might be likened unto a depot sandwich–neither are fit for use except in cases of necessity.” While not a unique perspective, it makes an interesting contrast to the work of some other early cocktail book authors, who often have recipes for bottling mixes. 

If you were to spend a little more time looking through the recipes, you’ll notice a trend of certain ingredients, namely gin, whiskey, and brandy, along with wine-based aperitifs, bitters, and lemon peel. Lots of lemon peel. There are other, more unique ingredients–specific types of rum or liqueurs, for example–but gin, whiskey, and brandy were at the core of cocktail culture in early 20th century America, so we shouldn’t be surprised. (Rum was gaining ground, but vodka was still decades away from filling the American market and glass.)

In any case, The Chunky Book makes for fun perusing, if you’d like to stop by and swap sandwich, salad, hot dish, OR cocktail recipes. And until next week, cheers and eat well!

Ann Hertzler’s Work: A Slide Show

Over the course of the last 14 years, Ann Hertzler made many contributions to Special Collections, including books for her endowed collection of children’s cookbook and nutrition literature publications, her professional papers from her tenure at Virginia Tech and the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a variety of other cookbooks. Continuing on last week’s post, I thought I would put together a slide show of materials donated or created by Ann (and, in some cases, both).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: