Children’s Chores…in Song?

This week, I found something unique to share–The Kitchen Garden,: or, Object Lessons in Household Work including Songs, Plays, Exercises, and Games, Illustrating Household Occupations by Emily Huntington (1841-1909). It’s a book for children (mostly girls) designed to teach the proper steps for household chores. The book is broken down into six “lessons,” but it also includes additional songs and even a program for public performances of the songs and skits. Each lesson includes a recitation, at least one song, and illustrations.


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Emily Huntington authored a number of other titles like The Kitchen Garden, which is the only one of her works in our collection. If you look at the other titles, though, there was a clearly a theme to her books:

  • Kitchen-Garden System of Cookery
  • The Cooking Garden: A Systemized Course of Cooking for Pupils of All Ages, including Plan of Work, Bills of Fare, Songs, and Letters of Information
  • Children’s Kitchen-Garden Book
  • Children’s Kitchen-Garden Book, Adapted from the Original, with Additional Songs
  • How to Teach Kitchen Garden: or, Object Lessons in Household Work including Songs, Plays, Exercises, and Games, Illustrating Household Occupations

Although we certainly have books that are meant to teach lessons to children, this is probably the only one in our collection that does so in this particular way. It seems a good way to reach children. Of course, kids don’t do the same chores in the same way they did in 1890. I guess that must mean it’s time for some new songs!


Parties are for Kids, too!

With the holidays upon us, it’s important not to neglect the kids! So this week, we’re sharing the Children’s Party Book  from 1935. It includes games, decor, recipes, menus, and activities for kids parties. It not only covers major holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, and New Years), but birthday parties and “just because” events, too.

Surprisingly few of the games are really outdated, though some would need updating. The “States Game,” which requires children to write down the names of all the states may be a bit more challenging in 2013 than in 1935. But many of the word and puzzle games are still the same.

The Childrens’ Party Book  was produced by the A. E. Staley Company, so you will find a few “sponsor” elements to it. There’s an introduction and a post script by company people and  many (but not all) of the recipes are based on Staley products, but the advertising isn’t as invasive as some publications we’ve seen on the blog before. The focus really does seem to be on keeping kids (and adults!) occupied.

Over the next two weeks, Special Collections may be closed, but we won’t leave you without a couple of holiday surprises. Just be sure to enjoy the rest of 2013!

Some New Pamphlets!

We’ve acquired lots of new pamphlets lately, devoted to various food products, ingredients, and other goodies. This week’s post is a short teaser slideshow, featuring the covers of some new acquisitions. You’ll have to visit us to catch the real thing! But, whether you’re looking for Quaker Oats to entertain the kids with puzzles, a salad recipe on a bowl-shaped page, or an idea for all those cranberries, we can help…

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Rawleigh’s: Almanacs, Advertisements, and Information

This week, we’re featuring an almanac from 1926. More specifically, Rawleigh’s Good Health Guide, Almanac and Cookbook. As you might notice from the images above, the W. T. Rawleigh Company make a LOT of different products. The company began in 1889, is still in business today, and is still just as diversified. The almanacs were  yearly (or at least almost nearly) from at least as early as the 1910s and well into the mid 20th century. (Special Collections also has a 1957 almanac in its holdings.)

The title for this item really says it all. There are traditional almanac pages with weather information, sunrise and sunset times, and other predictions, grouped two months together. Opposite each is an essay, offering advise on maintaining good health or on some aspect of the company. Other pages combine mini-essays and recipes on a variety of topics: cooking for unexpected guests, feeding infants (always popular in advice-giving publications!), a vegetarian diet, and more.

What jumps out the most (at least for me) are the color images on the front and back covers are striking in their vividness and their idyllic scenes. While they may not have a blatant connection to the products and advise dispensed within, they certainly make you stop and smell the lilacs.

Ann and Bob Learn about Eating, Cooking, Freezing, and a Theme Party!

When it comes to educating children about food, materials in our collection take all kinds of approaches: cookbooks, story books, advertisements, activity/resource kits, and even a few toys! This week, our blog features Learning to Cook and Serve Our Meals by Ada R. Polkinghorne. Published in 1946 by the National Dairy Council, this story book follows Bob and Ann Brown and their parents, as the children learn about helping in the kitchen, cooking and preserving food, and having an airplane themed food party at school (no joke!).

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Learning to Cook and Serve Our Meals is clearly designed for children, from its colorful illustrations to simple text. More importantly, the book includes representations of several themes we’ve talked about on the blog previously:

  • The World War II and just-post-World War II time in which this publication was written, the emphasis on home gardens and self-sufficiency lingers. Not only do Bob and Ann help harvest, they also help freeze and preserve fruits and vegetables for the winter. Food preservation obvious had value beyond the age of rationing, and it continues to play in an important role in many families today.
  • A story book can be educational for children. Or, conversely, an education book for children can have a fun story. This is a story children are intended to relate to, giving them a greater ability to incorporate its values into their own lives.
  • Kids can (and should) learn to cook! The kitchen shouldn’t be a foreign place. Rather, it’s a place for work, fun, education, and experimenting/creativity.
  • Vegetables are good to eat!

Unlike many “sponsored” publications, this one is free from advertising, which is a little different. Items from the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection that we’ve look at on the blog to date have included varying degrees of product placement. Here, the National Dairy Council refrained from overtly forcing milk or cheese on the Brown family. And certainly not all children’s publications have an advertising agenda either (an idea we’ll come back in the future, no doubt).

While you may not be planning an airplane-themed party for a classroom of children any time soon, it is important to think creatively about food and family. There’s a lot you can do without the burden of reciting facts about flying or arguing over just who should be serving and why. Food really can bring people together, from preparation to clean up and everything in between–and a three day weekend holiday might be the perfect time to try it out!

Ensuring and Insuring Your Baby’s Diet…

As it turns out, no matter the decade (or century!), everyone has advice for mothers–even insurance companies! This week’s feature is a short pamphlet created by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Feeding Your Baby was published in the 1920s and includes detailed daily meal plans from children from infant up to 6 years. The pamphlet also contains suggested food preparations (“older children…may eat a little raw cabbage, carrots, or celery if grated or ground“) and advice (“never serve eggs and meat on the same day”). 

In addition to Feeding Your Baby, Special Collections is home to a number of other Metropolitan Life Insurance Company pamphlets (mostly small cookbooks), dating from the 1910s to the 1970s.  A list is available online.