Women’s History Month, Part 15: Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880)

In our last episode (aka, Women’s History Month, Part 14), we looked at the Eliza Leslie, cookbook and fiction writer. This week, we’re picking up with that trend. Eliza Leslie was not the only cookbook author who wrote in multiple genres and who started in a different format first. This week, we’re featuring Lydia Maria Francis Child (1802-1880). She started out writing history, moved into household management/cooking, and then expanded even further, producing stories, poetry, novels, abolitionist tracts, and materials for children. Both during her life and after her death, her letters were also published. The volume of writing she produced goes well beyond the bibliography of books available here (see below).

While I won’t make any attempt to reproduce her entire life here (I’ve included links to some biographical resources below), there are some interesting things to point out about Lydia Maria Francis Child, including some interesting ties to food. Her father, David, was a baker. After her mother’s death, she lived with her sister and was educated to be a teacher, a profession she took up by 1821 in Massachusetts (where she met the Transcendentalist movement). Her first novel was published in 1824–she was 22. In 1828, she marred David Lee Child, a lawyer who, among other things, introduced her to issues surrounding Native American rights and abolitionism. Lydia’s writing continued extensively to support the couple, especially when David launched an unsuccessful attempt at sugar beet farming. His motives were true (producing an alternative to slave-produced sugarcane),  but his efforts did not pay off. In the 1840s, Lydia also tried her hand at editing, working for an abolitionist paper for a short time. Although this didn’t last long, it failed to diminish her passion for the issue, which became the focus of her activities and writings during and after the Civil War. She died in 1880, having produced volumes of stories, household advice, reform tracts, poems, and essays.

Bibliography of Lydia Maria Child publications at Virginia Tech University Libraries (items in bold are in Special Collections):

  • Hobomok: a tale of early times. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard, 1824.
  • The rebels, or, Boston before the revolution. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard, 1825.
  • The frugal housewife: dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. Boston: Carter & Hendee, 1830.
  • The coronal: a collection of miscellaneous pieces, written at various times. Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1832.
  • Philothea: a romance. Boston: Otis, Broaders; New York: George Dearborn, 1836.
  • Anti-slavery catechism. Newburyport: C. Whipple, 1839.
  • Letters from New York. New York: Charles S. Francis ; Boston: James Munroe, 1843. (Also, two editions from 1845.)
  • The American frugal housewife: dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. New York: S. S. & W. Wood, 1844, c1835.
  • Correspondence between Lydia Maria Child, and Gov. Wise and Mrs. Mason, of Virginia. Boston: The American Anti-slavery Society, 1860. New York: S. S. & W. Wood, 1844.
  • The mother’s book. 6th ed., with corrections and additions by the author. New York, C.S. Francis, Boston, J.H. Francis, 1844. (Also, 1987 reprint of 1831 edition.)
  • Fact and fiction: a collection of stories. New York: C.S. Francis ; Boston: J.H. Francis, 1846.
  • Isaac T. Hopper: a true life. Boston, J.P. Jewett & Co.; Cleveland, O., Jewett, Proctor & Worthington; [etc., etc.] 1853.
  • The duty of disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act: an appeal to the legislators of Massachusetts. Boston: Published by the American Anti-slavery Society, 1860.
  • Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the life of a slave girl. Written by herself … Ed. by L. Maria Child. Boston, Pub. for the Author, 1861. (Also, 1987 reprint.)
  • A romance of the republic. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, [1997], c1867.
  • Looking toward sunset. From sources old and new, original and selected. Boston, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1883.
  • Letters of Lydia Maria Child. New York, Arno Press, 1969.
  • Right way the safe way, proved by emancipation in the British West Indies, and elsewhere. New York, Negro Universities Press [1969]. (Reprint of 1831 edition.)
  • The American frugal housewife. Edited and with an introd. by Alice M. Geffen. New York, Harper & Row [1972]
  • Lydia Maria Child, selected letters, 1817-1880. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.
  • Hobomok and other writings on Indians. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, c1986.
  • Over the river and through the wood. Boston: Little, Brown, c1989.
  • An appeal in favor of that class of Americans called Africans. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, c1996.
  • The frugal housewife: dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2013.

If you’d like read more about Lydia Maria Child, we referred to the American National Biography Online, but you can also find additional biographies from the National Women’s History Museum, the Poetry Foundation, and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. There’s also a print biography of her, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child (1994) that is available in Newman Library.

On a food related note, be sure to check out the latest post on our “In Special Collections @Virginia Tech” blog. In honor of March 17th, it’s all about St. Patrick’s Day dining! And come back next week, when we’ll talk about Hannah Glasse.

The Domestic Encyclopaedia: From A-Z–Or at least from M-Sn

It’s been a LONG while since we talked about a dictionary or encyclopedia on the blog, so today seems as good a time as any to bring up the topic of reference manuals for the home. Specifically, The Domestic Encyclopaedia; or, A Dictionary of Facts and Useful Knowledge, Comprehending a Concise View of the Latest Discoveries, Inventions, and Improvements, Chiefly Applicable to Rural and Domestic Economy, published in 1803. There’s actually even more to the formal title: Together with Descriptions of the Most Interesting Objects of Nature and Art; The History of Men and Animals, in a State of Health or Disease; and Practical Hints Respecting the Arts and Manufactures, both Familiar and Commercial. (You really have to love those 19th century titles that contained every detail about the publication–at least you  know what you’re in for!) It was originally published in London, but ours is an American edition that includes, as noted on the title page, “Additions applicable to the present situation of the United States.” We don’t know for sure what the American editor added  Even more specifically, we’re going to look at Volume IV. Why, you ask? Because Volume IV is the only one we are lucky enough to have here.

This volume covers M-Sn (Mace-Snowdrops, in fact!). The pages from the index show you just how widely “rural and domestic economy” is defined. The entry for “roaster” is more than 5 pages long, including a history along with illustrations of different models and uses. Other entries, like the one for “red-ink” are short enough to fit several on a page. The topics vary from cooking ingredients to farming implements to diseases to geographical elements. While not too common, there are more pictures than one might expect for a dense reference book, some large enough to merit a whole page! But make no mistake, this is a text heavy series for those in search of an educated perspective.

You can view a pdf of the book in its entirety online through the University Libraries. And luckily, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Digital Collections has all five volumes online for your reading and reference pleasure. The NLM collection includes not only digitized books, but also videos, relating to biomedical history. I also want to take one last moment to point out another new online resource: the USDA National Agricultural Library’s Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection (HDGDC). It’s brand new this week and features “over 900 historical and contemporary federal dietary guidance publications.” This new resource is a subset of materials in the National Agricultural Library Digital Collections, which as additional digital publications relating to agricultural history.  Any and all of these resources are worth a few minutes of browsing when you have a chance, whether for research, fun, or both!

The Kellogg Family “Business,” Part I

Welcome to 2015! Many people out there may have New Years’ resolutions that are diet-related. That being said, this week’s feature may either inspire or frighten you. (Hopefully the former, but my apologies in advance if it’s the latter!)

In January 2013, we featured a two-part post about vegetarian cookbooks created by religious organizations. In both posts, there was mention of the work of John Harvey Kellogg, M.D (1852-1943). Dr. Kellogg is a fascinating man to read about and we have a number of publications from Battle Creek, Michigan, where he lived, preached, practiced, and taught a rather interesting lifestyle. In other words, January 2015 [Has it really been two years since January 2013 already? Time flies when you enjoy blogging!] is going to feature a multi-part series on another unique organization that touted the benefits of vegetarianism in the 19th and 20th century! But, before we get to the Kellogg-Kellogg feud, the Kellogg-inspired launch of Post Cereals, or Kellogg-Post feud, let’s start with Ella. Well, at least one of her works: Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and Their Dietetic Properties, Together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a Large Number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes (1898).

Science in the Kitchen, 1892

You can read a bit more about Ella Eaton Kellogg (1853-1920) on the Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame website. For now, you should know a few things: 1) she was an early founder of what we now consider the field of dietetics; 2) she founded a cooking school and a school of home economics; 3) she was a prolific book and article editor and author; 4) at various times, she led organizations focused on childcare, motherhood, dietetics, hygiene, and “social purity; 5) she helped raise more than 40 adopted children; and 6) oh, and she was married John Harvey Kellogg (they were married for 41 years from 1879 until her death in 1920). Ella was quite the culinary/domestic Renaissance woman!

Science in the Kitchen was first published in 1892 and was in its third edition by 1898 (it went through at least two more in 1904 and 1910). The book was inspired by all of her work, but the first edition was published not long after the school of home economics, the the cooking school, and the “School of Domestic Economy” were established in the late 1880s. All of these activities fed into her writing a manual for those who weren’t in Battle Creek, Michigan.

In short, Science in the Kitchen was Ella Eaton Kellogg’s guide to almost everything domestic. There are introductory sections on the purpose and properties of food, the digestive system, cooking techniques, and kitchen planning and management. The majority of the text focuses on types of foods and preparations: grains/cereals, breads, fruits, legumes, vegetables, soups, breakfast dishes, sauces, beverages (alcohol and mostly caffeine-free, of course!), dairy, eggs, meats, and even desserts. The fact that there is meat section, when the Kelloggs’ themselves were vegetarians, is a rather interesting side note. Like many domestic guides, it also features recipes for the old, young, and sick, tips for food preservation, meal planning, service, etiquette, and holiday dinners. One of the more unique sections is a chapter about clearing the table, washing dishes, table linens, caring for dishware/utensils, and how to deal with garbage (more specifically, how to deal with food garbage that will be fed to animals)!

If you’re curious, you can read and view this entire work online through VTech Works, the University Libraries institutional repository here: https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/10316. [To be honest, now that I’ve been skimming it, I hope I’ll have a chance to read some more of the full 565 pages myself!] From how to light a fire to school lunches, Mrs. Kellogg has something to say on just about everything and household need.

Next week (and perhaps for another week or two after that), we’ll look at more from the food, nutrition, and health focused Kelloggs. They and their publications have a lot more story to tell!


Bonus: Food History Podcast Recommendation

On a nutrition/diet-related note, I did want to share a wonderful podcast on the history of health, nutrition, and dieting in America from Backstory. It is a rebroadcast I first downloaded in late November (I don’t know the original date), but I was finally catching up on my podcasts before the holidays. You can listen to “Health Nuts” online at the Backstory website here. It runs about an hour, but you can pick and choose segments, too. If you only pick one or two, I recommend “Meatless Moralism” and “Cereal Dating.” The former has a fair bit in common with today’s feature item and the latter is just plain fun! [Backstory features three historians, each one focusing on a different century of American history (18th, 19th, and 20th). Each week, they take on a new topic, including other historians and experts in the conversation.]

Beyond English Language Books

While the majority of materials in the History of Food and Drink Collection are in English, that’s not the rule. Over time, we’ve acquired a handful or two of items (mostly books, but at least one manuscript cookbook, too) in other languages. More recently, this is included a two German, two Spanish, and one French cocktail manuals. But that wasn’t where it started. As it turns out, you can find publications on culinary topics in a variety of languages. Today, we’re featuring Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft by Anna Bauer. Published in Vienna in 1892, this household management guide isn’t all that different from the same kinds of books you would find in America at the time. (And yes, you’re all being subjected to a German language book because that’s the European language your usual archivist/blogger, Kira, can read best…)

In English, we might call Die Österreichisches Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung fur Führung der Hauswirtschaft something like “The Austrian Housewife: A Handbook for Women and Girls of all (Social) Classes; Practical Instruction for Managers of Domestic Economy (or Home Economics),” if we translated it close to literally. But really, we could just call it “How to be an Austrian Housewife in 1892.”

Like the majority of household management guides from the period, there aren’t many (or, in this case, ANY) colors and only one image–that of a proper account book to be kept by the household manager. Of course, with this book, there’s the added challenge of a Fraktur (gothic) font. And, like English language books from the period, this is one jam-packed (pun intended) guide for women. It contains a general introduction and sections on: organizing and cleaning rooms/spaces; handling and preserving meat; preparation and storage of sausages (an entire CHAPTER on that subject); storage of vegetables and fruits; drying fruits; storing of juicy fruits in pickles, wines, and mustard; preserving fruits with sugar; serving meals and carving; caring for and feeding the sick; hygiene; childcare; gardening; and the management of livestock, including dairy products. All crammed into 410 pages!

You can’t find this title online, so if you’re curious, you’ll have to pay us a visit. You’ll find more than few foreign language titles on our shelves relating to a variety of subjects, so feel free to drop by!

Tschüß bis nächste Woche! (Bye until next week!)

24/7 Resources for Your Historical Cooking Needs

Happy Thursday! Not our usual day for features, but loyal archivist/blogger Kira (that’s me!) had been working a short presentation until this morning. To help celebrate Black History Month, Newman Library has been hosting all kinds of events. Today, I gave a talk about African-American influences on American food, especially from the 1820s-1920s. I was in my home library, too, so I got to do a show-and-tell. All that sharing and talking got me thinking about our efforts to make resources available to researchers everywhere. So rather than a single feature item today, how about many?

Back in the days when Special Collections was part another unit the library, the Digital Library and Archives, there were some awesome efforts made to digitize books out of copyright. Around 200 books were scanned and converted to single-file pdfs. The list of books is online here. Topics range from household management and industrial arts to cookbooks and dietetics. They are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s name. If you have a few minutes to browse, I highly recommend it! There are some great surprises. Each item has two links: The first is to the pdf file, which you can read online or save to your computer at home; the second is to the catalog record for the item.

The Michigan State University Libraries is home to a large collection of cookbooks. Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project has more than 10,000 books in the collection and the digital collection has pages from more than 75. You can browse here and read more about the project here.

The Internet Archive has digitized books from several source, conveniently consolidated in one place! From there text page here, try searching for “cooking, american” or culinary keywords. You’ll find all sorts of books.

While there aren’t digital copies of all your favorite culinary history publications, and I’m certainly not advocating giving up your local library, special collection, or archives, sometimes you need a good historic recipe. And sometimes you need it 9pm when we aren’t always here. It never hurts to have a few good resources in your digital recipe box. There are some great online menu projects, too, but that’s a post for another day. 🙂