Advice from an Alcott

No, it’s not a post about literature. Well, not American literature. But it advice literature for mothers! This week our feature item is a mid-19th century manual, The Young Mother, or Management of Children in Regard to Health. This book was first published in 1836, but went through multiple editions, including our, published in 1846. (There were others in 1838 and 1849, at least, and probably more.) Given the time period and the content, its an illustration-free book, so I won’t load you up with lots of pages. Instead, I’m posting a few sample pages.

A couple of notes on this item, however, William Alcott (1798-1859) was a physician, vegetarian, educational reformer, potential abolitionist (while he didn’t write actively in this area, the ideas are there in his other works), and author of books and articles. Incidentally, he was also the second cousin of Amos Bronson Alcott, father of American author Louisa May Alcott.  I know, I know, we’re not here to talk about American literature! If you are interested in that, you can read about that on our other blog, In Special Collections at Virginia Tech (my last two posts, as well as some previous ones, have been on that topic).

There are a number of observations one can make about William Alcott’s manuals (this and others). I choose the word “observations”carefully, since I believe the logical Alcott would approve. While this is a manual for mothers about children, it is also a platform for Alcott, his beliefs, and his apparently extensive education. He tackles child feeding, activities, care, dress, and more, all while challenging the works of other doctors and even philosophers (one of the pages above quotes extensively, then refutes, John Locke). You might (or might not) be surprised by the number of times he refers to Ancient Rome, refers to his theories vegetarianism, or reminders readers how differently he views boys and girls. One thing we can all agree on is that he has a great deal of advice to give.

There are other editions of this title available online, so if you want to read more from the 2nd edition or  3rd edition in 1836, the 3rd edition in 1838, or the 1849 edition, you can find them all online. Our 1846 isn’t online at this point.


The Kellogg Family “Business,” Part II

Last week, we looked at one of the works of Ella Eaton Kellogg (1853-1920), an author, educator, lecturer, and advocate. This week, we’re continuing our exploration of the Kellogg food dynasty with one of her husband’s books. John Harvey Kellogg, M.D (1852-1943) was an interesting man. While we won’t delve too deeply into his biography (there’s a great deal to tell and choosing highlights is difficult!), we’ll discover a few things along the way. But first, a word from our “sponsor.”

c. 1882 advertisement for the Battle Creek (Michigan) Santitarium
c. 1882 advertisement for the Battle Creek (Michigan) Sanitarium. This advertisement was printed in one of Kellogg’s books from the period, but it would have likely appeared in other sources, including newspapers.

The Battle Creek Sanitarium opened in 1876 (Kellogg took over the existing “Western Health Reform Institute, previously run by the Seventh-Day Adventists, of which Kellogg was a member until 1907). Although the buildings and campus would see continued use through World War II and beyond–the tower building became a hospital in World War II and later, in the 1970s, the facility was a psychiatric hospital–the sanitarium as Kellogg imagined it did not last much past his death in 1943.

Our feature item this week is The New Dietetics; A Guide to Scientific Feeding in Health and Disease. It was first published in 1921 (the year following Ella Kellogg’s death–not surprisingly, this book is dedicated to her). Our copy is a third edition, published in 1927.

I haven’t included too many pages this week for a couple of reasons. One, this text, as well as earlier editions, are available online in their entirety (see links below). Two, the few illustrations/images are included are…well, not all that exciting. Unless you’re intrigued by depictions of starch granules, the effect of rickets on children, and the digestive tract, of course. And three, there just aren’t that many images. Lots of tables (you’ll see a few above), but Kellogg came from a medical background and his books are very text-based. He was prolific in a variety of formats, writing more than 50 books and at least as many articles. His works shared his theories on health, nutrition, hygiene, sex, and raising families and children.

You can find the full version of our copy from 1927 online through VTechWorks: You can find first edition from 1921 online through the Hathi Trust: Hathi Trust also includes a second edition.

If you’d like to know more about John Kellogg himself, there are some great resources on and off-line! I recommend you check out the “Further Reading” and “External Links” sections in the Wikipedia page about him, as well as this online biography (which also includes more resources).

Next week, we’re going to look at some pamphlets and advertising materials from the Kellogg company/Battle Creek AND we’ll take on the topic of corn flakes (it’s more exciting then you might realize!).

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: [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.]

Veggie Goodness, Part II: On Vegetarian Loaves and Alternatives to Fishes

“Do not regard cooking from a standpoint of taste only. Endeavor to use the various food materials to the best possible advantage–carefully preserving their nourishing qualities and maintaining their true value.”

This week, we’re featuring the Vegetarian Cook Book published by the City of David in 1934. Full of vegetable, egg, cheese, and meat substitute dishes, there are a few surprises as well…

Whether theosophical vegetarians or religious vegetarians, we’ve clearly made every attempt to represent the “loaf” in the past couple of weeks. This title also includes a good deal of “mocking,” too: Mock Veal (Cutlets), Mock Turkey (Croquettes AND Dressing),  Mock Steak (or Salmon or Sausage or Crabs), and even a Mock Cherry Pie (made with cranberries and raisins).

Mary’s City of David, the religious organization behind this publication, was based in Michigan. Their dietary choices were religious-based and as the preface states, they were focused on their own supplies of vegetables, fruits, poultry (for eggs), and dairy products. The resulting recipes are quite different from the Vegetarian Cook Book from last week (despite the duplicate title). Rather than relying on a protein substitute (the Protose made by the Battle Creek Food Company), this group found all sorts of creative alternatives in the section on Meat Substitutes: peanut butter, other ground nuts, beans, cracker crumbs, and even tomato pulp (see “Mock Salmon”).

Another oddity we see in this cookbook is the  number and variety of actual vegetable recipes. There are classic veggies: potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, carrots, and peas, but also asparagus, beets, dandelion greens, “egg plant,” salsify, and pumpkin. And while there’s some repetition (you can cream just about anything, for example), there is not shortage of veggies and veggie-based dishes.

The other big surprise here is the significant number of desserts. After the sections on salads and dressings, the book jumps straight into pastries. Nearly 50 of the publication’s 140+ pages share recipes for pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, puddings, fritters, dumplings, custards, and candies. However, like many cookbooks, we cannot reach the end without several pages devoted to canning and preserving! Once again, neither fruit nor vegetable is ignored. There are instructions for quince jelly, plum conserve, spiced crabapples, pickled tomatoes, homemade catsup, and even pickled beets to get you through any season.

On a side note (and since I made a passing reference last week), the Mary’s City of David did have a baseball team. It has a long and interesting history (the team, for example, played in the first ever night game in 1930). While not the topic of our post today, you can read more about the team here:

And who knows, lima bean croquettes and cabbage salad may have been just what the team needed!

Veggie Goodness, Part I

Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.
-George Bernard Shaw

This week’s post is the first in an at least two-part series of vegetarian cookbooks. The two we’ll look at this week and next are associated with philosophical and a religious organization, respectively. First up, it’s the Vegetarian Cook Book, published by the Los Angeles Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1919.

The Theosophical Society was (and still is) oriented around shared values, not any particular religion. Their focus  is on truth and unity. So, unlike the title we’ll look at next week, the choice of vegetarianism isn’t driven by any one reason, but many (ethics, health, culture), and isn’t a requirement of the society.

That being said, there is a great deal of variety and creativity in this publication. Many of the meatless entrees feature a protein substitute called “Protose.” As the introduction tells us, this comes from the mind and work of John Harvey Kellogg, M.D. and the “Kellogg Food Co.” (In actually, by 1919, it would have been a product of the Battle Creek Food Company, the company started by John Kellogg, following the dissolution of a business partnership with his brother, Will.) One could speculate on the ingredients in a “vegetable meat,” but it may better left to the imagination. With its apparently diverse uses and the frequent addition of other heavily flavored ingredients (spices and sauces), we can wonder just as much about the taste…

It is, however, interesting to see how specifically this publication lays out its choice of brands and why. Brand loyalty is something we’re used to seeing in many of the company-based pamphlets we’ve featured on the blog, but not necessarily in a cookbook from a philosophical organization. It may stem from the limited number of vegetarian products available at the time. On the other hand, the back cover of the book contains an advertisement for Crisco.

Meat substitutes aside, many of the sections in the cookbook are not all that surprising. There are a great many soups, vegetable/pasta/rice-based entrees, breads, and desserts you can make without the meat, and the book shares a variety of these goodies. That doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t a few eye-catching recipes. There are an over-abundance of “loaf” recipes (nut, lentil, cheese, vegetable, bean, mock veal, etc.), as well items like “Mexican Cheese Sauce” (likely designated as “Mexican” solely due to the addition of chili powder), “Green Tomato Mincemeat” for pie, and a lone chick pea based dish.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the recipes, you can visit us to see this, and other publications! (Alternatively, the book is out of copyright and available online.) In the mean (meat? or meatless?) time, you may wish to consider a modern alternative to vegetable sausage with mock pork gravy. At least until next week, when we’ll talk about some early 1930s vegetarian dishes you can use to feed your traveling baseball team (yes,  I promise, there IS an explanation).

New Bites in the Culinary History Collection

We’ve picked up a few more followers this past weekend, so it seems like we need a bonus post this week (though what Wednesday’s feature is still a bit of a mystery). Special Collections launched this blog back in September and we’ve survived into 2012! With that in mind, it might be nice idea to give our readers an idea of the kinds of books we acquired recently. Between September and December 2011, we purchased more than 25 titles for the collection and received 12 publications as donations.

Highlights among these new acquisitions are:

  • One of a few foreign language items in the Culinary History Collection, Die Österreichische Hausfrau: Ein Handbuch für Frauen und Mädchen aller Stände; Praktische Anleitung zur Führung der Hauswirtschaft [The Austrian Housewife: A Handbook for Wives and Girls; A Practical Guide to Household Manangement] by Anna Bauer (1892);
  • Brillat-Savarin’s Physiologie du goût. A handbook of gastronomy, new and complete translation with fifty-two original etchings by A. Lalauze (1884);
  • A mid-19th century vegetarian cookbook, Vegetarian cookery by A Lady (1866?);
  • Additions to the Culinary Pamphlet Collection from Northwestern Consolidated Milling Co., William Underwood Company, and Malleable Iron Range Corporation;
  • Several publications relating to the health and care of children. Topics include whooping cough, feeding babies and children, and cookbooks designed from younger children;
  • And of course, a number of southern cookbooks!

We’re looking forward to 2012 and continuing to add new materials to the collection in all areas (and hopefully at least one NEW area)! We hope you’ll stick with us, read up on what’s new (and old) in the Culinary History, and as always, feel free to ask questions/comment!