Processing the Educational Cookery Collection, Part 1

Over the last few years, we’ve talked about and around the idea of education when it comes to cookery. We’ve profiled women who started, trained, and/or taught at cookery schools; talked about the more community-based networks and community-learned skills; and shared PLENTY of recipes and advice for household management. We received a collection this week that brings all of that together and while it’s still in the early stages of processing, there’s also plenty to share. (I’m thinking we might follow this collection over the next week or two as it gets ready for the public use.)

Regrettably, the the idea to follow the collection hit me after I unpacked the boxes and started sorting, so no photos for the early stages. Suffice to say, we received 4 nicely packed boxes of books, pamphlets, and ephemera in binders. Over the last two days, I’ve taken the boxes apart and sorted materials. There are items to be cataloged, some manuscript materials that could be added to existing collections, and some manuscript materials that are going to result in a new manuscript collection. I’m contemplating the options, but I suspect the latter two kinds of items will be combined into a new “educational cookery” manuscript collection of some sort.

Anyway, here’s how things look now:

(I was trying to keep a little table space in my office open!)
(So, I *may* have stacked a few things upside down…)

The stacks of books will need cataloging slips and will go to the library’s Collections and Technical Services Department, then return to our shelves. These items will all have a note in their catalog records indicating they are associated with the soon-to-be-created manuscript collection. What kind of books? There are textbooks for public and normal schools, as well as textbooks from well-known cooking schools like the Boston School of Cookery, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, and the British National Training School of Cookery. In addition, there are community cookbooks to benefit educational institutions, study books and career guides for home economics, and what we might call “DIY” study or instruction for profit or for personal use (candy-making, running tea rooms, cake decorating, etc.). These materials fit in well with our existing holdings and will result in us gaining new publications by authors we’ve talked about before like Maria Parloa, Mrs. D. A. Lincoln, and Fannie Farmer.

There are MANY pieces of ephemera which we can look at in future posts. But for now, here are a few examples of some lecture announcements, basic cookery lessons, and and course catalogs from cooking schools.


By next week, I hope to have the books all organized and on a cart. And in the meantime, I’ll be working on some ideas for organizing the ephemera and manuscript items. Stay tuned for more pictures, a bit about how we figure out organizational structures for collections, and an update on progress so far in next week’s post!


On a side note, we also recently acquired a collection of materials relating to military and wartime cookery (which I am equally excited about!). Part of that, along with other items in Special Collections, formed the basis of our current exhibit. If you’re in Blacksburg, feel free to drop by in the next month or so and check out “Substitution, Self-Sufficiency, and Sharing: America’s World War I Food Policies and Practices.”

Photo of center display case from “Substitution, Self-Sufficiency, and Sharing: America’s World War I Food Policies and Practices”

 

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!