Women’s History Month, Part 20: Ellen H. (Henrietta) Swallow Richards (1842-1911)

Ellen Henrietta Swallow (later Richards) was born in 1842. In 1870, she graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelors of Science–she focused her studies largely in astronomy. In 1871, far from completed with her own education, she applied to, and was accepted, to MIT. She was the first woman to attend the school, graduating from there with a second Bachelors of Science, this time in Chemistry. The same year, she received a Master of Arts from Vassar.  In 1875, she married Robert Richards, a professor. From 1873 to 1884, she taught MIT and worked as an assistant to professors and researchers, without a title for many of those first years. She was the driving force behind development of the “Women’s Laboratory,” which, in turn, expanded the education opportunities in the sciences for women at MIT until it closed and the school began offering regular undergraduate opportunities for women. During this time, she also began working for the Board of Health in Massachusetts (which would lead to some of her later efforts). Much of her work efforts overlapped: she taught at MIT while working for the Board of Health, and for about a decade in there, also worked for Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and would later consult for companies, too. The history of her employment at MIT is complex, but between 1873 and 1911, she taught in chemistry, biology, and mineralogy, at the very least. We know that in 1879, she was an assistant professor in chemical analysis, industrial chemistry, mineralogy, and applied biology, but may not have been receiving a salary. By 1884, she was known as an instructor in sanitary chemistry. Shortly before she died, in 1910, Smith College presented her with an honorary degree Doctor of Science in light of her life-long efforts. She passed away in 1911, leaving a legacy of education, public health, and as a pioneer for women in science.

Some of her work in chemistry focused on issues of public health and other parts on issues of food and its chemistry. While she isn’t the traditional culinary history writer we often talk about on the blog, her contributions to aspects of the field, and related ones, were ground-breaking. In fact, there wasn’t much of the traditional about Ellen Richards, which is probably a wonderful thing for both her students and those that followed her. Her work and some of her 15 books would feed into the development household management and domestic science/education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Which is probably an indication that we should look at some examples!

The work of hers that we’ve actually talked about before is The Dietary Computer, Explanatory Pamphlet; the Pamphlet Containing Tables of Food Composition, Lists of Prices, Weights, and Measures, Selected Recipes for the Slips, Directions for using the Same. I won’t rewrite the post, but if you haven’t followed us since 2012, or if you’ve forgotten, it’s well worth a look.

Her work often appeared within the books of others, since her research led to essays, charts, and even the hand calculated and hand drawn tables included in The Science of Nutrition from 1896:

One of the stand-outs for me is the way in which Richards brought chemistry into the home, using her books as a way to education women who may not have the opportunities to study in a formal setting. She reinforced the importance of knowledge for women and the benefits of understand what she refers to–quite perfectly, I think–as the “Chemistry of Common Life.” The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning: A Manual for Housekeepers covers aspects of food science, the chemistry behind cooking techniques and ingredients, the chemistry and public heath values of cleanliness, and even contains research into the addition or adulteration of cleaning products (see page 113 below)!

Richards was an extremely prolific author and co-author for many years. Here in Special Collections five of her books (titles in bold below) and there are another two available through the University Libraries. Many of her works went through multiple editions, too! In addition to the titles we have, she wrote on other aspects of chemistry, food cost studies, public health, education in schools, and contributed to other pamphlets from corporations.

  • The Rumford Kitchen: The Exhibit of The New England Kitchen at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (included content by Richards)
  • Atkinson, Edward. The Science of Nutrition. Treatise upon the Science of Nutrition…The Aladdin Oven, invented by Edward Atkinson. What It Is. What It Does. How It Does It. Dietaries Carefully Computed, under the Direction of Mrs. Ellen H. Richards. Tests of the Slow Methods of Cooking in the Aladdin Oven, by Mrs. Mary H. Abel and Miss Maria Daniell, with Instructions and Recipes. Nutritive Values of Food Materials,
    Collated from the Writings of Prof. W. O. Atwater. Appendix: Letters and Reports
    , 1896 (available online)
  • The Dietary Computer, Explanatory Pamphlet; the Pamphlet Containing Tables of Food Composition, Lists of Prices, Weights, and Measures, Selected Recipes for the Slips, Directions for using the Same, 1902 (With Louise Harding Williams)
  • First Lessons in Food and Diet, c.1904
  • The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning: A Manual for Housekeepers, 1907 (available online)
  • The Cost of Cleanness, 1908
  • The Art of Living Right, 1915

On a citation note, I’m indebted to two really great (and compact) biographies of Richards for the information I’m sharing this week, one from the MIT Libraries and the other from the American Chemical Society.  The MIT site also includes the link to the digitized version of Richards’ thesis for her Chemistry degree! I recommend both, since what I’ve presented here is an even shorter version.

Women’s History Month, Part 18: Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall (1805-1878)

In the middle of last year, we acquired a book called The Housekeeper’s Book, published in 1837. [Side note: the full title is The Housekeeper’s book : comprising advice on the conduct of household affairs in general ; and particular directions for the preservation of furniture, bedding, etc. ; and for the laying in and preserving of provisions, with a complete collection of receipts for economical domestic cookery, the whole carefully prepared for the use of American housekeepers and the title in our catalog is The Housekeeper’s book:…with a complete collection of receipts for economical domestic cookery, the whole carefully prepared for the use of American housekeepers. So, actually finding this volume and information about it can be a bit tricky, depending on how it’s referenced.] At the time, I sent it on to cataloging, without too much thought. In October of 2016, it popped up on my radar in conjunction with an instruction session I was putting together on antebellum women & cookery. This time, the “By a lady” on the title page caught my attention and, of course, required investigation. When I found out, I wanted to post about it right away, but decided it would be better saved for Women’s History Month, because this was one interesting lady (more on her in a moment–I have to build some suspense)!

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The Housekeeper’s Guide was, as far as I can tell, was only published in two editions: one in 1837 and another in 1838. These days, about 24 libraries or so have print copies on their shelves (but it has also been digitized here). It is very much what it sounds like from its extensive subtitle–a household management guide and cookbook. From the preface:

The plan of the present work is so fully set forth in the title page that little is left to be said by the author in any way of preface. It may, however, be proper to remark, that the work has been founded on the results of actual experience, and is intended for every day use; that the receipts, directions, and general advice have all been prepared with strict view to utility, and true economy; and that nothing has been omitted which the author deemed subservient to the general design–the promotion of domestic happiness by attention to the constantly recurring and inevitable duties of good housekeeping.

Intended for middle- and upper-class ladies, and, in some ways, probably for those in their employ, the book has a natural progression: household duties, managing servants, cooking techniques, LOTS of recipes (including homemade cordials and cooking for invalids), flowers, preservation of furnishings, washing, and the ever-common miscellany. A bit out of place, though, it ends with directions for “jointing, trussing, and carving” (with intriguing instructions like “Cod’s Head” and “Half a Calf’s Head.” I guess that gets to the economy aspect of cooking–use everything!

So, just who was the lady behind this semi-obscure household guide that didn’t see the success or continued reprinting of some other similar books of the time? Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall. With a name that long, I felt there had to be story here and I wasn’t wrong. First off, The Housekeeper’s Book was never published under her actual name and it was her only domestic-related book…sort of.

She published her other works as Frances H. Green, since she didn’t marry Wiliam C. McDougall until 1860 and most of her writing was done prior to that. But we’re jumping ahead! Frances Harriet Whipple was born in Rhode Island in 1805. By the time she was in her 20s, she was publishing poetry and began her first brief editorial efforts (the Original), which include her own short writings. By 1830, her writing shifted to reformation efforts, as over her life, McDougall would became an activist for/supporter of temperance, labor, abolition, and spiritualism. Her works would be published in newspapers, serials, books, and other projects edited mostly by others, but also by herself.

In 1842, she married her first husband, an artist named Charles Green. After their divorce in 1847, she developed an interest in spiritualism and over the next decade or so, she would write for spiritualism publications and individual tracts. She was also an avid botanist and botany teacher, publishing an illustrated text, The Primary Class-Book of Botany in 1856, which was later expanded and republished with a co-author years later. Around 1860, she moved to California where she met and married William C. McDougall, a California assemblyman-turned-miner and the brother of the state’s second governor, John McDougall. The two remained married until her death in 1878.

Interestingly, there is a published biography of McDougall (O’Dowd, Sarah C. A Rhode Island Original: Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall. University Press of New England. 2004.) and she does have a Wikipedia page, but among the most helpful of resources was a brief biography of her on the web, created by a faculty member at the Community College of Rhode Island (which is where I got most of my information above!)

Although–or perhaps because–her works are so varied, it’s hard to come up with a single bibliography.  Her major works include:

  • The Housekeeper’s Book (1838)
  • Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge (1838)
  • Elleanor’s Second Book (1842), both books were the social conditions of African-Americans in the 19th century
  • Might and Right (1844), in defense of the suffrage movement and political upheavals in Rhode Island
  • The Primary Class-Book of Botany (1856)
  • Shahmah in Pursuit of Freedom: or, The Branded Hand (1858), was an attack on slavery through the narrative of a foreign prince from African visiting the United States
  • Beyond the Veil (1878), published posthumously

Her list of individually published poems, articles, tracts, and other pieces is, of course, much longer, as is her list of editorial roles over the years. While she may not have been particularly influential in the culinary world, it’s clear her influence was felt in other places. And her fascinating life story was one I simply had to share!

Putting the “Umble” in “Humble Pie?”

To conclude, and that I may not trespass too far on your Patience and good Nature, or take up too much of your Time from the more important Affairs of your Families, I hereby ingenuously acknowledge, that I have exerted all the Art and Industry I can boast of, in compleating this Pocket-Book, complied for your Service, and intended as your daily Remembrancer; and that I an not conscious to myself of having omitted one Article of any real Importance to be further known…

This morning, I had a plan.  A really good plan for today’s post and the idea to also prep one for next week (and see if I can get back on a weekly posting schedule after a busy last few months). While scanning materials for the second post, I discovered some new culinary history tidbits that were too good not to share today. So next week, I’ll tell you about our new agricultural ephemera collection. This week, we’re going back to the mid-18th century, to Sarah Harrison’s The house-keeper’s pocket-book, and compleat family cook : containing above twelve hundred curious and uncommon receipts in cookery, pastry, preserving, pickling, candying, collaring, &c., with plain and easy instructions for preparing and dressing every thing suitable for an elegant entertainment, from two dishes to five or ten, &c., and directions for ranging them in their proper order. First published somewhere in the late 1730s (probably, our recently acquired copy is the later 7th edition from 1760. The quote at the above comes from Harrison’s own introduction to the book.

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Yes, another one of those books with a lengthy title that takes a whole page. (I”ll stick with The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book for the sake of my typing skills today.) Mrs. Harrison manages to pack of lot of information into 215 pages (plus another 36 for the added Every One Their Own Physician by Mary Morris).

tx705h37_1760_contents1 tx705h37_1760_contents2

Primarily, she provides recipes and suggested menus (bills of fare) for a year. Then, toward the end, we get a some of the more “housekeeping” or “household recipe” side of things: directions for removing stains, cleaning dishes, managing animals and livestock, and even a bit of distilling/brewing. Much in the British style, there is a significant section in the book on pies (not just the sweet, but the savory). And as chance would have it, I stumbled on to page 60 and the word “umbles.”

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While working this this culinary history materials here has provided this archivist quite an education, I, too, get stumped on occasion. For those of you who already know the word, kudos! For those of you bit less acquainted with the term, “umbles” refers to the organ meats of deer (and comes from the French “noumbles”). In this case, we have a recipe for “Umble Pie.” This recipe for “umble pie,” with its humble ingredients of deer innards, very likely led to the phrase “humble pie.” From dinner recipe to idiomatic expression in a single bound!

The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book also includes a few illustrations, like these plans for placing parts of a dinner course:

tx705h37_1760_110 (The small “L2” at the bottom of the page was used to help construct the book, whose pages would have been printed in large sheets, then folded, cut, and sewn together.)

It wouldn’t be culinary history if we didn’t talk about one of our favorite topics: pickling. In 1760 (and when the earlier editions of the book were written), this was a main method of preservation. So, you could (and would!) pickle just about everything. Below is one of the page spreads on the subject and includes some items we recognize today, as well as a couple of ingredients (or at least terms) that are a bit less so. tx705h37_1760_178“Codlins” (also codlings) refers to a family of apples with a particular shape, usually use for cooking. “Samphire” is a plant that grows on rocks near the sea. Its leaves were often used pickling.

Sarah Harrison’s book would go on to have several other editions after this 7th one, but eventually, it was a cookbook that became more rare or unique to collectors and collections. We were lucky and happy to acquire this copy several months ago and we hope some one of you take the opportunity to come use it, too! Sadly, it hasn’t been scanned in its entirety for public viewing, but that may be a future task for us to undertake. In the meantime, you can always send us your (h)umble queries on Mrs. Harrison’s work.

Selection, Preparation, & a Physicians’ Ready Reference for the Non-Professional

Last week I taught three instruction sessions relating to Special Collections in three days (which is a lot for me, who usually averages maybe three such sessions over the course of a single semester). Two of those had to do with aspects of food history and elements of the third touched on the topic as well. Add that to the guest lecture in another course about food history in late September, and the students from those classes who have followed up with me or the department to do research, and, when I can spare a few moments, improving and/or creating some new resources guides on some food and drink topics, it’s safe to say this is turning out to be a food history-full semester. You’d think all of that would make it easy to find something to blog about this week, but with so many items in hand lately, well, choosing is never easy. But, since I pulled several volumes by this woman and mentioned her in another writing project, I thought we’re revisit an author and educator we last featured back in 2014: Sarah Tyson Rorer. More specifically, her Mrs. Rorer’s Diet for the Sick: Dietetic Treating of Diseases of the Body, What to Eat and What to Avoid in Each Case, Menus and the Proper Selection and Preparation of Recipes, Together with a Physicians’ Ready Reference, 1914 (available online: http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/HFDBooks/RM219.R7_1914). Below are the cover, title page, and two sample pages from the table of contents.

pages-from-rm219-r7_1914 pages-from-rm219-r7_1914-2 pages-from-rm219-r7_1914-3 pages-from-rm219-r7_1914-4

Mrs. Rorer was, over the course of her lifetime, was an author, educator, lecturer, columnist, and radio program host. She took all of these roles seriously and this book highlights that. Many recipes books/cookbooks dating back to the early publishing of such books in America included content on diets for the sick or invalid. The same is true of household management guides. Though these sections, as they often appeared as separate chapters or topics in books,  largely consisted of recipes for beef teas, milk toast, and other simple dishes, they were a key skill for household managers. Some of Sarah Rorer’s other books include such chapters, too. But in Mrs. Rorer’s Diet for the Sick…, we find a far more specific, detailed book, as indicated in the forward (along with some beef teas and gruels, of course):

      This book has been written especially for the sick. The foods here recommended for special diseases are not suited to the well…Simple, easily digested foods recommended for the sick are not necessarily good for even children or invalids; in fact, foods for the well and foods for the sick are not interchangeable.

My sole desire in writing this book has been to assist those persons who must care for their sick  at home, and the doctor and the nurse, without trespassing on the domain of either. In disease each case requires special attention, and the knowledge that comes from observation cannot be supplanted by any dictated rules. Book directions are valueless unless modified by common sense.

The fact of the matter is that, in this volume, Sarah Rorer has packed in the information. At well over 500 pages, there are suggested and restricted foods for a range of diseases and hundreds of recipes.

There are a lot of things that make this book different. It isn’t usual for a non-medical professional to study up and impart this degree of food and medical knowledge in a book of the time period. Plus, with all the expected recipes, we find a wide variety of the unexpected: directions for vegetable dishes like cardoons; the use of “Edible Weeds” (common and uncommon herbs); surprisingly “luxury” foods like coconut or oysters (depending on where on lived); and even some remedies whose roots are more on the “home” than professional side, like “Irish Moss Water.” In short, Mrs. Rorer’s Diet for the Sick… is one diverse household manual, designed to prepare anyone providing home care to an ill family member.

Women’s History Month, Part 17: Susannah Carter (fl.1765)

Since there are FIVE Thursdays in March this year, you’re getting a bonus gift: Another women’s history month profile!

We only have one book at the University Libraries by Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook: Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved Receipts…to Which are Added, Various Bills of Fare, and a Proper Arrangement of Dinners, Two Courses, for Every Month of the Year.  Of course, there’s a good reason we only have one book–it’s the only one she wrote…sort of. On the surface, it’s not as clear as a good broth. The thing about The Frugal Housewife is that is appeared on both sides of the pond with variant titles, most of which have either the same subtitle, or at least part of the same subtitle. Yes, it’s bit confusing, but there’s quite a story to come. But first, the book!!

Oh, and apologies for the use of pictures that includes weights this week. Our 1802 text block is wonderful condition. It was rebound, probably some time in the last 75 years. This will help to continue to preserve the text, but it’s also a very tight binding and using a flat surface (aka a scanner) would be detrimental to the book. I had to get creative.

So, back to the story of this book’s many titles. For example, you might also see The Universal Housewife: or, Complete New Book of Cookery. Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved New Receipts, … Together with the Best Methods of Potting, Collaring, Preserving, Drying, Candying, and Pickling. To which are Prefixed, Various Bills of Fare, for Dinners and Suppers in Every Month of the Year; and a Copious Index to the Whole (1770), which was the first version of the book. Or, there’s The Experienced Cook, and Housekeeper’s Guide. Giving the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved New Receipts. With the Best Methods of Potting, Collaring, Preserving, Drying, Candying, Pickling, Making English Wines, and Distilling of Simples, with Twelve New Prints for the Arrangement of Dinners of Two Courses, for Every Month of the Year, etc. (1850).

Let’s take a step back for a moment. The first edition of The Universal Housewife probably appeared around 1765 in London and Dublin. The first appearance of the text in America was in Boston in 1772. This early colonial version included engraving by Paul Revere (how cool is that??). Variations on The Frugal Housewife title began as early as 1772. The only versions of The Experienced Cook and Housekeeper’s Guide variants appear to have been published in 1850. While we know nothing about the life of Susannah Carter, she was probably deceased by then. Assuming that she was at least 20 when the first edition came out in 1765, in 1850, she would have been 105 years old. These variants were not always the same book, as some elements were improved upon or edited for different versions. The year after our 1802, another edition was published in America that contains a whole new appendix of receipts specifically for the “American mode of cooking” (both processes and ingredients). Why all the changes? That’s a hard question to answer, but there were probably a lot of factors. Many hands go into writing, editing, printing, and publishing a volume like this, and many people might have been inclined to take liberties with a text. It may have been an attempt to appeal to different audiences, too.

There’s another reason we’re looking at Susannah Carter’s book this week, too. And it has a lot to do with some of the previous posts in this series. The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook was extremely influential in America. Remember Amelia Simmons and American Cookery, or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake: Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life (1796)? Part of that title might look familiar now. As it turns out, entire passages of American Cookery came from The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook. (Copyright and publishing was a different business in the late 18th century!) The 1803 appendix to the American edition of The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook that I mentioned? That same appendix appears in an 1805 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. And it is probably not original to Carter. It appears to have been translated from a Swedish text called Rural Oeconomy. And, to further complicate things, as you may recall, in 1829, Lydia Maria Child authored a cookbook called The Frugal Housewife. Child’s book was published in different editions America and the UK, which, as you might expect, let to even more confusion. In 1832, under pressure, she changed the title to The American Frugal Housewife (though the old title didn’t disappear abroad until after 1834). This book has quite a history to it, right?

You can view the 1803 American edition of The Frugal Housewife at the Michigan State University Libraries’ Feeding America project, complete with the Swedish translated appendix. You can also see an 1823 London edition through the Internet Archive.

We’ll be back with another post next week. In the meantime, though, remember to make your gravies and sauces a priority. They are, after all,the “chief excellence of all Cookery!”

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.

Women’s History Month, Part 10: Mrs. (Harriet Anne Bainbridge) de Salis (1829-1908)

This week, we’re taking a look at the work of Harriet Anne (Bainbridge) de Salis (or, as she usually published, “Mrs. de Salis”). She was a prolific British writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, authoring more than 20 books (many of which went through more than one edition). While most were about cooking and household management, she also wrote a book on dogs, one on raising poultry, and her first publication was a history of kissing! Harriet Anne Bainbridge married William Salis in 1872, the year before her kissing book was published. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

Although it isn’t explicitly clear why she added the “de” to her moniker, one wonders if she wanted to add a little something extra to match her “a la Mode” series of books. While her “reference” type books had a broad audience, her tastes (and topics) often ran to the higher end: she produced an entire volume on oysters, even her “small” meal plans were complex, and her main ingredients were unlikely to be found in homes of those on a limited income. However, that failed to detract from her popularity!

Currently, we have only two of her titles in our collection, and until I started researching this post I had no idea quite how active she was. Now, however, I know to be on the lookout!First up, there’s Drinks a la Mode from 1891. This title includes cups and punches, as well as cocktails, notes on beer and wine, and simpler drinks for invalid.

Our second of her titles is The Housewife’s Referee: A Treatise on Culinary and Household Subjects from 1898. This is reminiscent of the many household management guides in our collection. It includes sections on what you have in your kitchen (and why), plenty of recipes, and a variety of meal plans for every season and occasion.

Bibliography:

  • Kissing: Its Origin and Species, 1873
  • Entrees a la Mode, 1887
  • Dressed Game and Poultry a la Mode, 1888
  • Dressed Vegetables a la Mode, 1888
  • Oysters a la Mode, or, The Oyster and Over 100 Ways of Cooking It: To Which are Added a Few Recipes for Cooking All Kinds of Shellfish, 1888
  • Soup and Dressed Fish a la Mode, 1888
  • Sweet and Supper Dishes a la Mode, 1888
  • Cakes and Confections a la Mode, 1889
  • Tempting Dishes for Small Incomes, 1890
  • Wrinkles and Notions for Every Household, 1890
  • Drinks a la Mode: Cups and Drinks for Every Kind of Every Season, 1891
  • Floral Decorations: Suggestions and Descriptions, 1891
  • New-Laid Eggs: Hints for Amateur Poultry-Rearers, 1892
  • Dogs: A Manual for Amateurs, 1893
  • Puddings and Pastry a la Mode, 1893
  • New Things to Eat and How to Cook Them: Fancy Dishes and Relishes Not to be Found in Ordinary Cook Books, 1894
  • Gardening a la Mode: Fruits, 1895
  • Gardening a la Mode: Vegetables, 1895
  • Savouries a la Mode, 1894
  • National Viands a la Mode, 1895
  • The Art of Cookery Past and Present: A Treatise on Ancient Cookery with Anecdotes of Noted Cooks and Gourmets, Ancient Foods, Menus, etc., 1898
  • The Housewife’s Referee: A Treatise on Culinary and Household Subjects, 1898
  • A la Mode Cookery: Up to Date Recipes, 1902

If you’re looking for more information, I found a couple of helpful links along the way. Cooksinfo.com has a short biography, bibliography, and even includes some quotes about and reviews of her works. The Internet Archive has about 15 of her books available in digital form (including Drinks a la Mode and The Housewife’s Referee in their entirety).

Next week, we’ll be talking about Malinda Russell, a freed slave who authored the first African-American cookbook, published in 1866. In the mean time, find a reason to cook something “a la mode” this weekend…or you could settle for some ice cream and pie, if you prefer the modern use of the phrase. 🙂