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!)

Meal Prep, Service, and…Design?

A title like How to Prepare and Serve a Meal: Interior Decoration had to catch our attention. After all, it’s food history related. But, in case you didn’t know, we are also the home to the International Archive of Women in Architecture. This group of manuscript collections and publications helps to document a field that wasn’t widely open to women until the last 40 years or so. You can read more about it here: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/iawa/. That being said, you can imagine how a book that combines these two areas might be of some interest to Special Collections. Written by Lillian B. Lansdown around 1922, this a household guide on two related subjects.

What’s interesting is that this publication almost feels like two books. There isn’t a real transition from the topic of meal planning to interior decoration, just the start of a new chapter. The decoration section is significantly smaller, and one wonders if it was sort of tacked on (perhaps it was too short a section to stand on its own?). It is cataloged as a culinary item, as opposed to a design one.

At the same time, this combination makes perfect sense for the time period. Both the kitchen and the home (management, order, and design) were considered part of the woman’s domestic sphere. I would guess we have more manuals like this on our shelves (and I know some of the large household management guides cover these and other topics), so I’ll be keeping an eye out for similar pieces in the future. They’re chock full of little lessons.

Happy meal planning and home decorating! Just remember: For afternoon teas, never use paper doilies (unless you have more than 100 visiting); Broken lines aren’t shouldn’t be part of permanent fixtures in a room; and drinking liquors in 1922 wasn’t illegal (so long as you found a way to legally obtain it…)

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!

 

Women’s History Month, Part 7: Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer (1849-1937)

This week’s Women’s History Month profile is on Sarah Tyson (Heston) Rorer. Born in Pennsylvania in 1849, she grew up in Buffalo. Her family moved to Philadelphia around 1870, where she met and married her husband, William Albert Rorer. In 1882, she began taking cooking classes at the New Century Club. Within two years, she launched the Philadelphia Cooking School, to educate other women in the art of cooking, dietetics and nutrition, and healthy eating. Over the course of her professional career, she was an educator, author, editor (Ladies Home Journal), columnist, radio show host, dietitian, and lecturer. Her desire to emphasize healthy cooking led her to develop “Philadelphia ice cream,” the recipe for which appears in the works of many later cookbook authors. Her style of ice cream omitted thickening agents (even eggs) and relied instead on fresh ingredients. Her work in dietetics was a significant factor in the creation of the field of hospital dietetics and the feeding of the sick. Some of her later life was spent in state and local politics in Pennsylvania. Rorer died in 1937.

Here in Special Collections, we have 8 of Rorer’s many titles, including two available online:

  • Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book: A Manual of Home Ecomonics, 1886 edition, 1914 edition (available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/10354)
  • Hot Weather Dishes, 1888
  • Home Candy Making, 1889
  • Dainty Dishes for All the Year Round, 1890
  • Good Cooking, c.1898
  • Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book: A Manual of Housekeeping, 1902
  • Mrs. Rorer’s Vegetable Cookery and Meat Substitutes: Vegetables with Meat Value, Vegetables to Take the Place of Meat, How to Cook Three Meals a Day without Meat, the Best Ways of Blending Eggs, Milk, and Vegetables, 1909
  • 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://hdl.handle.net/10919/10355)

One of the striking things you might notice, even from this short list of her works, is the trend in titles. Sarah Rorer was a household name and her book titles seem to build on her brand and identity. If you were to look at some of her other titles (check out a previous Culinary Thymes article from the Peacock-Harper Culinary Friends and a wonderful biography from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book), you’ll notice the trend continues. A good percentage of her works begin with “Mrs. Rorer’s.”

Sarah Rorer’s more than 50 year career focused on healthy eating and good nutrition. She continued to influence generations of cookbook authors and educators, as well as the everyday cooks she reached through her columns, lectures, and radio programs. She’s no longer a household name (unless, perhaps, you are a culinary historian), but modern dietetics owes her and her work no small debt.

Sarah Tyson Rorer bridged the 19th and 20th centuries when it came to cooking. Next week, we’ll have our last Women’s History Month profile of 2014,where we’ll go back in time a little further. Without our 18th century author (or maybe authors!) for next week, American cooking may not have developed as it did!

It’s All in Good Form, Isn’t It?

First, a quick update on a previous post, A Tiny Post for Some Tiny Books: We have acquired The Tiny Book on Home Candy Making! It looks much like its counterparts, and we’re still waiting for it to return from cataloging, but we’re very excited. That leaves us with the only the elusive The Tiny Book on Cocktails. We’re keeping our eyes peeled and our fingers crossed that we’ll turn up a copy one of these days.


This week’s feature is one of those strange discoveries that hide on our shelves. I was perusing a slightly different call number range without much luck (I guess I wasn’t inspired by manuals on feeding children this week) when I sidestepped and looked down. (Hint: When shelf browsing, it’s important to look below eye level, not just above it.) I suddenly found myself sitting on the floor where an unlabeled, thin green spine caught my eye. The cover was even more curious.

Front cover, Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them, 1890
Front cover, Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them, 1890. (The lion adds panache, doesn’t it?)

This turns out to be a somewhat eclectic manual, probably due to the fact that is relatively short and still seeks to cover a lot of topics. The book jumps from types of dinners to invitations, from dress to table habits, and from planning the dinner to arranging the table.

The whole of the book is text heavy, so there are limited number of pages in the post, but it makes for great reading. (If you want to read more, you can check out a copy online: https://archive.org/details/dinnersceremoni00longgoog.) Not sure how to eat an olive that was served on a piece of silverware versus with fingers? Wondering if you should pick up strawberries served without stems or lettuce leaves without dressing? Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them can help!

Interestingly, though, this book seems to have at least three audiences–people invited to dinner parties, people hosting them, and wait staff. It integrates tips on creating invitations with directions on how to reply to invitations. Chapters move from table manners (for guests and hosts alike, presumably) to planning the meal with household staff. Parts of the book address said staff more directly in terms of how to “read” the way someone places silverware or when to serve what. While the blog has featured manuals before, very often, they are aimed at one of these groups. It’s uncommon to see one that addresses all three, especially in only 80 pages. Of course, it does leave a few questions unanswered. Reading aloud to a colleague resulted in the question of what one does if one drops food on the table: Do you cover it with a napkin, try to retrieve it, or simply ignore it? Dinners, Ceremonious and Unceremonious and the Modern Methods of Serving Them doesn’t say. Which means I guess I have a new research question in hand for this week…

“An Ideal Home”: A Scrapbook Guide to Setting Up Roots

Last December, we found a catalog description that intrigued us. When the item arrived, it was better than we imagined. A scrapbook filled with cut out images from newspapers and magazines, depicting everything you might need to get started as a new homemaker.

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This scrapbook, wonderful as it is, reflects one of the challenges for archivists. Sometimes, when we acquire an item or a collection, it’s obvious. We know the who, what, where, why, and when of it. Sometimes we think we know, discover we’re wrong, and find out something new. And other times, we get, well, a scrapbook like this.

As you may notice, the images in the gallery do not indicate anything about identity. Unfortunately, neither do any of the other pages. There’s no name of the compiler, who took the time to find and place the clipped items, no name of the person who came up with the lists and prices, and no name any owner. Without a clue to the creator, we’re left with the other questions of “why?” and “when?” This item may very well have been a gift to a new bride, a scrapbook full of advice about setting up a household for the first time. Alternatively, it may have been a school project, perhaps a home economics assignment for a student. Not all mysteries can be solved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t glean a few interesting facts or lessons from the scrapbook, either (though sadly, you won’t be able to buy a house and fill it for $12,500 today!):

  • Kitchen appliances and items never go out of style. (Well, they might go out of style, but whether it’s avocado green or stainless steel, you still need a refrigerator these days, as well as pots and pans and knives.)
  • Organized closets make it much easier to find things.
  • It never hurts to be over-prepared for the cocktail hour.
  • Plan your menu, especially if you’re having company.

We hope to be posting the whole scrapbook for online viewing in the near future, as we’re experimenting with some new software. (Currently, you can view the finding aid here.) Once it’s all set, we’ll be sure to post an update! Or, come by and see it in person!

Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 4: Janet McKenzie Hill (1852-1933)

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.

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…

Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 3: Marion Harland (1830-1922) and Christine Terhune Herrick (1859-1944)

This week, our Women’s History Month feature includes two women, a mother and daughter with LOTS to say on the topic of cooking and managing the home. Each was an author in her own right, though, as we’ll see, their efforts resulted in at least one collaboration.

Mary Virginia Hawes (later, Terhune) was born in Virginia in 1830. Writing under a series of pen names, she published articles beginning at age 14. Eventually, she adopted Marion Harland as her author identity. She married a preacher, Edward Terhune, a Presbyterian minister, and they had six children, three of whom survived infancy (and who all became writers!). For nearly the first twenty years of her writing career, she wrote novels and fiction, primarily aimed at women. In the 1870s, she added to her repertoire and completed a book on household management, full of recipes and hints. It was the first edition of Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery. Although she never gave up writing fiction, and even added some non-fiction to her bibliography, from the 1870s to the early 1900s, her focus seemed to have shifted to cookery and domestic guides in cookbook and narrative styles. She died in 1922, at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy of fiction, non-fiction, articles, household advice, recipes, and more.

Our holdings in Special Collections are by no means complete. Marion Harland wrote on culinary, literary, and historical topics, as well as travel and fiction. We have half a dozen of her culinary and domestic related books, which represent only a small percentage her catalog of works. The gallery below contains scans from selected University Libraries’ holdings (in chronological order).

For more about Mary Terhune, you can check out her obituary in the New York Times; her autobiography online, and the Encyclopedia Virginia article about her.

Christine Terhune (later Herrick), was born in 1859, after her parents had relocated to New Jersey for her father’s work. Following an extensive education in the US and in Europe during family life abroad, she taught private school briefly. In 1884, she married James Herrick, a newspaper editor, in Springfield, Massachusetts. She began writing articles for newspapers and ladies journals. By 1888, her first book on household management was published (Housekeeping Made Easy) and she became quite successful. After her husband’s death in 1893, she wrote to support her family while she raised two young sons. In 1905, she edited a set of books, Consolidated Library of Modern Cooking and Household Recipes that included some her mother’s writings. By the time of her death in 1944, she had published more than 25 books on raising children, living on a budget, manuals for servants and housewives, cooking, and housekeeping in general.

Currently, Special Collections includes only four of Herrick’s books (don’t worry, we’re always on the look out for more!), highlighted in the gallery below.

For more on Christine Terhune Herrick, you can read about the entry for her in the Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2 online.

Together, mother and daughter wrote more than 50 publications, the majority of which related to culinary history and domestic life. Their books, including editions and reprints, provided housewives, mothers, servants, and families with advice for almost 60 years. Clearly, they were an influential force to be reckoned with in the domestic sphere! (And one with ties to Virginia food and household history, too!)

A complete list of Marion Harland’s publications at the Virginia Tech University Libraries is available here. A list of Christine Terhune Herrick’s publications at the University Libraries (all of which are in Special Collections) is available here. If want to come visit and see more, be sure to check out both lists.

And if you can’t visit, you can still see more! Previous efforts to digitize some of the culinary history holdings in Special Collections resulted in five of Harland’s and two of Herrick’s publications being scanned. You can read, save, and download the pdf versions here.

Next week, we may return to the Boston Cooking School to talk about author and educator, Mrs. D. A. Lincoln (aka Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln), or we may look at the work of Janet McKenzie Hill–author, culinary reformer, and food scientist. (With only one week left in Women’s History Month, it’s hard to decide!) You’ll just have to come back and see.

Until then, take some of Marion Harland’s advice: “Practice, and practice alone, will teach you certain essentials.” This week, cook something you’ve practiced and love. Those essentials will never let you down…

Women’s History Month Profiles, Part 1: Maria Parloa (1843-1909)

March, as some of you may know, is Women’s History Month. While a good portion of what we talk about on this blog relates to women’s history, it seems like a good opportunity to explore the contributions of some authors, educators, and cooks (and sometimes, all three at once!). Each week this month, we’ll share a little about an influential lady from late 19th/early 20th century culinary history. They may not be household names these days (or even in their own time), but their works paved the way for modern home economics, cooking, and cookbooks.

On a side note:  if you’re in the Blacksburg area, we always invite you visit Special Collections. This month, we have two small exhibits devoted to women’s contributions to science, technology, science fiction, architecture, literature, culinary history, and more! You can also go “hands-on” with examples of items in our collection. We’ll also be profiling manuscripts, publications, and items on the Special Collections blog on Tuesdays during March.


Maria Parloa was born in Massachusetts in 1843. Even before she entered a teacher’s school in Maine in 1871, she had experience cooking in homes and hotels in New England. In 1872, while still in enrolled at the Normal School of the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, she published her first cookbook, The Appledore Cookbook (ours is the later 1878 edition).

(Click on any of the images for a larger view.)

1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook
1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook
Index from the 1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook
Index from the 1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook
Samples pages from the 1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook
Samples pages from the 1878 edition, The Appledore Cookbook

After several years of teaching in Florida, she eventually relocated to Boston, Massachusetts–she had visited several times to lecture and felt there was a gap. By 1877, she opened a cooking school. Two years later, she became one of the first instructors at the famed Boston Cooking School.By 1880, she had authored two more books, First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families, and Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking.

1880, First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
1880, First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
Sample pages from First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
Sample pages from First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
Sample introductory pages from First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
Sample introductory pages from First Principles of Household Management and Cookery: A Text-Book for Schools and Families
1880, Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
1880, Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
Images from Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
Images from Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
Kitchen appliances from Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
Kitchen appliances from Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking


In 1883, she left her cooking school and Boston for new opportunities in New York City, where she opened a new school. She continued to teach for the next four years before eventually taking more time to write and travel. During the late 1880s and early 1890s, she was prolific, publishing later editions of earlier books, as well as three new ones: Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would Be Good Housekeepers in 1887; Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management in 1889 (we have the 1898 edition); and Miss Parloa’s Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three in 1893 (we have the 1895 edition).

1887, Miss Parloa's Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
1887, Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
Index pages from Miss Parloa's Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
Index pages from Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
Lunch planning tips from Index pages from Miss Parloa's Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
Lunch planning tips from Index pages from Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers
1898, Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
1898, Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
Recipes from Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
Recipes from Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
Kitchen plan from Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
Kitchen plan from Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management, Including the Proper Treatment of the Materials Entering into the Construction and Furnishings of the House
1895, Miss Parloa's Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three
1895, Miss Parloa’s Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three
List of kitchen needs from Miss Parloa's Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three
List of kitchen needs from Miss Parloa’s Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three
Invalid recipes from Miss Parloa's Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three
Invalid recipes from Miss Parloa’s Young Housekeeper: Designed Especially to Aid Beginners: Economical Receipts for Those Who are Cooking for Two or Three

Parloa was among the nation’s first home economics instructors and her focus was broad. She was also one of the first to embrace/promote a brand. Last summer, we acquired One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company’s Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives, published in 1897. Parloa also endorsed and created publications for Walter Baker Chocolate in the 1890s.

1897, One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company's Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives
1897, One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company’s Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives
Title page from One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company's Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives
Title page from One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company’s Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives
Index from One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company's Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives
Index from One Hundred Ways to Use Liebig Company’s Extract of Beef: A Guide for American Housewives

By 1903, Parloa had mostly retired from writing. She moved to Bethel, Connecticut, where she lived until the time of her death in 1909. Maria Parloa was devoted to an all-around home economics education, as her book titles and the contents suggest. In addition to recipes, she featured directions for maintaining a clean and orderly home, thriftiness, hygiene, and temperance. She worked to provide a wider education in household management, caring for the home and family, and cooking techniques, and she was an important influence in the rise of home economics.

Special Collections’ Rare Book Collection includes 10 of Maria Parloa’s books. You can see a list of our holdings here: http://tinyurl.com/mariaparloa-vtsc. A New York Times description of one of her classes, published in 1882, is available online. A lengthier biography is available on the website of the Bethel Public Library, which began with a donation from Parloa.

Next week, we’ll look at another important figure in the Boston Cooking School, Fannie Farmer. Until then, be sure your pantry is organized and your luncheons are simple!

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. 🙂