Women’s History Month, Part 13: Marion Harris Neil

Welcome to Women’s History Month 2016! As with previous years, this month we’ve got a whole new series of profiles lined up. But first, a quick message from our sponsors–Us!

Your archivist/blogger Kira and two of her amazing colleagues, Laurel and Sam, are working on some Women’s History Month displays. We have a digital exhibit that went live yesterday, which you can see here: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/exhibits/show/womens-history-2016. (Spoiler alert: there IS some History of Food & Drink material in it!). We’re also in the process of switching content in our reading room display cases AND setting up two other cases on the first floor of the library along with a touch screen monitor for the digital display. We hope you’ll check out one or both exhibits. (And hey, if you’re coming to the talk next week, “Cookery, Cocktails, Chores, and Cures: Food History in Special Collections,” you’ll already be here!)

…Back to our regularly scheduled blogging! This week we’re looking at the works of Marion Harris Neil. I say “works” for a very specific reason. Normally, I tried to include some biographical information in my aptly-named “profiles.” But Marion is a mystery. A prolific, prolific mystery. Census records from the eras during which she wrote include plenty of “Marion Neils,” but with no clues to go on, it’s hard to narrow things down. Her books and publications are often product-based, so the focus is on the company and the food, not the woman. Unlike some of our other authors, there are no biographical hints in prefaces or introductory pages. Still, she had plenty to say on the topic of food:

You can read about the 1917 edition of Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder in a previous blog post and you can view the 1914 edition of The Story of Crisco on the Special Collections digital collections website.

Marion Harris Neil Bibliography (items in bold are held by Special Collections):

  • “The Minute Man Cook Book.” 1909. [Alternate title: “The Minute Man A Brief Account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord by Wayne Whipple with Recipes for Minute Tapioca, Minute Gelatine (Plain) and Minute Gelatine (Flavored) by Janet McKenzie Hill, Marion H. Neil, Ella A. Pierce, and other culinary authorities.”] In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Alcono Cook Book. Newark, N.Y., J.M. Pitkin & Co., 1910.
  • Choice Recipes Requiring “True Fruit” Brand: Pure Flavoring Extracts. Rochester, N.Y.: J. Hungerford Smith Co., [1912?]
  • How to Cook in Casserole Dishes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1912. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Thing to Eat Made with Bread. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Canning, Preserving and Pickling. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1914. (Multiple editions)
  • “The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes.” 1913. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Cox’s Manual of Gelatine Cookery. 5th American ed. Edinburgh, Scotland: J. & G. Cox, Limited, [1914]. (Previous post on a broadside advertisement for this company)
  • Delicious Recipes Made with Mueller’s Products. Jersey City, N.J. : C.F. Mueller Co., 1914.
  • The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes. 5th ed. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1914. (Multiple editions) (Available online)
  • A Calendar of Dinners with 615 Recipes: Including the Story of Crisco.8th ed. Cincinnati : Proctor & Gamble Co., c1915.
  • The Something-Different Dish. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1915
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1916.(Multiple editions)
  • Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1916. (Multiple editions)
  • Dromedary War-Time Recipes: Appetizing and Economical Dishes Made with Dromedary Food Products. [New York?]: Hills Bros. Co., 1917.
  • Favorite Recipes Cook Book: A Complete Culinary Guide. New York: F.M. Lupton, 1917. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Things to Eat: A Selection of Unusual Recipes for Those who Appreciate Good Things to Eat. San Francisco, Calif.: California Packing Corp., 1917.
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1917.  (Previous blog post)
  • Economical Cookery. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1918.
  • Sixty-Five Delicious Dishes Made with Bread: Containing Tested Recipes Compiled for the Fleischmann Co. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1919.
  • The Thrift Cook Book. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1919. (Multiple editions)
  • 40 Unique Dromedary Cocoanut Recipes. [New York]: Hills Bros. Co., [192-?]
  • 43 Delicious Ways of Serving McMenamin’s Crab Meat. Hampton, Va.: McMenamin & Co., [192-?]
  • Auto Vacuum Ice Cream Freezer Recipes. New York: Auto Vacuum Freezer Co., 1920.
  • Delicious Recipes. [Fresno, Calif.]: [California Peach Growers, Inc.], [1920?]
  • A Calendar of Dinners, with 615 Recipes. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1921. (Multiple editions)
  • A Modern Manual of Cooking. Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble Co., 1921.
  • Mrs. Neil’s Cooking Secrets: and, the Story of Crisco. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., 1924. (Multiple editions)
  • “Mrs. Harland’s Cooking Secrets.” [Crisco.] 1925. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.

Neil also published in Table Talk, a long running home economics and cooking periodical, and wrote or edited numerous other pamphlets and ephemeral publications that aren’t likely captured by catalog records. I’ll also mention that many of the publications above (and the others) are available online through the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and/or Google Books. You’ll just have to go looking for them!

With an extra Thursday this March, you can expect four more profiles, and I promise, they won’t all be about women of the food world shrouded in quite so many shadows. For now, you’ll just have to let Marion’s recipes speak for her.

2 thoughts on “Women’s History Month, Part 13: Marion Harris Neil

  1. Susan

    I have been curious as well and did a little more searching today on the Internet, Kira. MHN trained for 5 years in Glasgow and then took an advanced cookery course in London before coming to Philadelphia around 1903 and opening a cookery school with her sister. I can’t seem to pin down any other years beyond the publications you list but a nationality may help with further research.

    1. That may also explain why so many of her pamphlets were published in the UK as well, and why she may have been associated with Cox Gelatine, which was a Scottish company. Looks like I have more research to do! -Kira

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s