The last week of March has arrived, leaving us time to meet one more lady of influence from the late 19th and early 20th century–Janet McKenzie Hill.
Born in Massachusetts in 1852, Janet McKenzie finished her education and began working as an assistant teacher. She married Benjamin Hill in 1873. She later attended the Boston Cooking School (yes, another BCS graduate this week–but to be fair, it was the place for a culinary education at the close of the 19th century), graduating in 1892. Four years later, she founded and served as the first editor of the Boston Cooking School Magazine (later American Cookery from 1914-1946). Over the course of her long career as an author, editor, demonstrator, and lecturer, she wrote more than 15 books, not including pamphlets, promotional brochures, and articles. She died in 1933.
The images below contain scans from publications by Hill available in Special Collections ranging from cookbooks, product/brand specific pamphlets, and posthumous revised editions of her works. Over time, her books reflected the changing times, whether an improvement to an available technology, a country at war (World War I), or defining a new kind of relationship between author/educator and product/producer.
Cover. Hill produced multiple editions of many of her books, including Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing-Dish Dainties. Special Collections three: 1899, 1914, and 1923.
Frontis piece and title page
Contents. The contents for the first edition fit on a single page. As later editions expanded, so did the detail of the contents list.
Table of contents and list of illustrations.
Sample recipes and illustrations.
Cover. This edition featured an addition 32 illustrations and an expanded list of recipes.
Part of the contents list. In later editions, the types of recipes were more clearly defined at the start of the book.
Sample salad recipes. Considering the relatively recent rise in popularity of salads in the early 20th century, Hill’s recipes include a range of creative ideas.
More sample salads. These salads required a bit of time and skill to produce. The Russian Vegetable Salad in encased in gelatin. The Macedoine is held together with jelly mayonnaise and is surrounded by light green aspic cubes.
Sample sandwiches. While we talk a lot about aspic on the blog, this is the first time we’ve seen it replace something as fundamental to a sandwich as bread! These halibut sandwiches feature a “bread” of chicken aspic and a filling of fish and mayonnaise.
Sample appetizer and dessert.
Cover. This tiny pamphlet, measuring only 7cm x 8cm, includes contributions from Hill and other cookbook authors of the time.
Contents and title page.
Sample recipes by Hill.
More sample recipes.
Cover. Like many of the ladies we have featured this month, Hill lent her name and skills to several companies, including Rumford, the baking powder manufacturer. This item likely dates from the 1910s.
Table of Contents.
Table setting hints.
Cover. Like many cookbook authors of the era, Hill’s books were not just about recipes. They were about managing a household for two or ten. Cooking for Two was a manual for young and beginner housewives.
Contents. This book talks about the whole kitchen experience, from appliances to nutrition.
Sample recipes and images.
More sample recipes and images.
Title page. In addition to Rumford, Hill created and tested recipes for K C Baking Powder.
Title page. In 1915, Hill wrote a book called Canning, Preserving, and Jelly Making that went through several editions. While Special Collections does not have any of Hill’s editions, we do have this one. Revised to reflect changing food processing and technology after Hill’s death, this volume nontheless, relies and reproduces Hill’s text.
Table of contents.
A complete list of Janet McKenzie Hill’s publications in the library’s catalog can be found here. The Culinary Pamphlet Collection at Special Collections includes two more of her brand-related pamphlets. Six of her books are available through the library’s digital rare book collection here.
Incidentally, Janet McKenzie Hill was also known for popularizing the baked bean sandwich. So if you’re looking for something to try that isn’t creamed fish between slabs of aspic or prunes on toast, or won’t require special skills in food construction, a nice fruit salad or baked bean sandwich might be a safe choice.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our profiles of some culinary leading ladies this month (at least as much as archivist/blogger Kira has enjoyed researching and learning about them)! There are plenty more where they came from if you want to pay us a visit and ask. Next week, April is upon us, and there are all kinds of spring surprises in our History of Food & Drink Collection, waiting to be discovered and shared…