Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 3: Marion Harland (1830-1922) and Christine Terhune Herrick (1859-1944)

This week, our Women’s History Month feature includes two women, a mother and daughter with LOTS to say on the topic of cooking and managing the home. Each was an author in her own right, though, as we’ll see, their efforts resulted in at least one collaboration.

Mary Virginia Hawes (later, Terhune) was born in Virginia in 1830. Writing under a series of pen names, she published articles beginning at age 14. Eventually, she adopted Marion Harland as her author identity. She married a preacher, Edward Terhune, a Presbyterian minister, and they had six children, three of whom survived infancy (and who all became writers!). For nearly the first twenty years of her writing career, she wrote novels and fiction, primarily aimed at women. In the 1870s, she added to her repertoire and completed a book on household management, full of recipes and hints. It was the first edition of Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery. Although she never gave up writing fiction, and even added some non-fiction to her bibliography, from the 1870s to the early 1900s, her focus seemed to have shifted to cookery and domestic guides in cookbook and narrative styles. She died in 1922, at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy of fiction, non-fiction, articles, household advice, recipes, and more.

Our holdings in Special Collections are by no means complete. Marion Harland wrote on culinary, literary, and historical topics, as well as travel and fiction. We have half a dozen of her culinary and domestic related books, which represent only a small percentage her catalog of works. The gallery below contains scans from selected University Libraries’ holdings (in chronological order).

For more about Mary Terhune, you can check out her obituary in the New York Times; her autobiography online, and the Encyclopedia Virginia article about her.

Christine Terhune (later Herrick), was born in 1859, after her parents had relocated to New Jersey for her father’s work. Following an extensive education in the US and in Europe during family life abroad, she taught private school briefly. In 1884, she married James Herrick, a newspaper editor, in Springfield, Massachusetts. She began writing articles for newspapers and ladies journals. By 1888, her first book on household management was published (Housekeeping Made Easy) and she became quite successful. After her husband’s death in 1893, she wrote to support her family while she raised two young sons. In 1905, she edited a set of books, Consolidated Library of Modern Cooking and Household Recipes that included some her mother’s writings. By the time of her death in 1944, she had published more than 25 books on raising children, living on a budget, manuals for servants and housewives, cooking, and housekeeping in general.

Currently, Special Collections includes only four of Herrick’s books (don’t worry, we’re always on the look out for more!), highlighted in the gallery below.

For more on Christine Terhune Herrick, you can read about the entry for her in the Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2 online.

Together, mother and daughter wrote more than 50 publications, the majority of which related to culinary history and domestic life. Their books, including editions and reprints, provided housewives, mothers, servants, and families with advice for almost 60 years. Clearly, they were an influential force to be reckoned with in the domestic sphere! (And one with ties to Virginia food and household history, too!)

A complete list of Marion Harland’s publications at the Virginia Tech University Libraries is available here. A list of Christine Terhune Herrick’s publications at the University Libraries (all of which are in Special Collections) is available here. If want to come visit and see more, be sure to check out both lists.

And if you can’t visit, you can still see more! Previous efforts to digitize some of the culinary history holdings in Special Collections resulted in five of Harland’s and two of Herrick’s publications being scanned. You can read, save, and download the pdf versions here.

Next week, we may return to the Boston Cooking School to talk about author and educator, Mrs. D. A. Lincoln (aka Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln), or we may look at the work of Janet McKenzie Hill–author, culinary reformer, and food scientist. (With only one week left in Women’s History Month, it’s hard to decide!) You’ll just have to come back and see.

Until then, take some of Marion Harland’s advice: “Practice, and practice alone, will teach you certain essentials.” This week, cook something you’ve practiced and love. Those essentials will never let you down…

2 thoughts on “Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 3: Marion Harland (1830-1922) and Christine Terhune Herrick (1859-1944)

  1. Pingback: 365 Luncheon Dishes & 365 Days in a Year–What a Coincidence! | What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!

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