Friday, December 24, 2010

Food Friday: Fruit Cake

I have a confession to make. I like fruit cake. I realize this is like confessing to a criminal act, but I don't care.  I like fruit cake. Maybe because no one ever forced me to eat it.  Maybe because no one has ever given me one. But I do like it.

Here are three recipes from ladies who probably liked it as well. Notice that all their spices are from Folger's. Quite possibly they were a sponsor of this community cookbook. All but one recipe calls for some liquor. To see a better copy of these recipes, see the cookbook .

These recipes are from the California (San Francisco) M.E. Church Cook Book by the Ladies' Aid Society (n.d.), page 41.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

List of Contributors to the Gulf City Cook Book, 1878

While typically you have to read through a community cookbook to find the names of all the women who contributed, there are times when an index or list  is provided. Sometimes this index provides the page numbers and other times it's simply a list of names.

Such is the case for the Gulf City Cookbook found on Internet Archive.

Have family from Mobile, Alabama who attended the Methodist Episcopal Church, South?  You may want to check this list of recipe contributors found on page 9 of the cookbook. Of course, women who are married are listed by their husband's name.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Food Friday: Scottish Woodcock

This recipe from The Community Cook Book by the First Presbyterian Church, South Orange, New Jersey (1917)  is featured in the Lucheon Dishes section of the cookbook. I've noticed that these luncheon dishes feature lots of cheese. Something that I highly approve of but my doctor doesn't.

I should point out that no woodcocks are harmed in the making of this recipe. Although there is no woodcock in this recipe, it is a bird that is hunted and ate by some. Not sure what a woodcock is?  There is a Wikipedia article that tells about this bird.

Woodcock was a bird that Shakespeare referred to in Hamlet. According to a paper written by blogger Madaleine Laird, woodcocks were "prized by those who hunt them" because of their taste and their intelligence. They were caught in at least two ways during the Bard's time. One was to create a snare to catch them and the other involved "limeing" which required smearing a sticky solution on nearby tree limbs and leaving behind some corn to tempt the woodcock.  The woodcock lands on the limb and is stuck to it.

So below is the Scottish Woodcock recipe sans the woodcock.

If you would like some recipes featuring  woodcock, click here.

My thanks to Madaleine Laird for quoting her paper Springes and Lime: Images of Trapped Birds in Hamlet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Genealogy Community Cookbook

I was excited to receive in the mail yesterday the Conejo Valley Genealogical Society cookbook, A Dash of Thyme. This cookbook is beautiful with vintage photos and recipes from Conejo Valley Genealogy Society members as well as "celebrity" genealogists. The celebrity genealogists include those local to Southern California like Barbara Renick, Jean Wilcox Hibben and Colleen Fitzpatrick and those outside of California like Lisa Alzo, Dear Myrtle, Maureen Taylor, Paula Stuart-Warren and Megan Smolenyak (just to name a few).

You can find the recipe for my great-grandmother's fudge on page 128.

To order this 144 page cookbook contact the society at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Friday: Mock Turtle Soup

This community cookbook, My Mother's Cook Book, from the Ladies of St. Louis, compiled for the Women's Christian Home has a few recipes for Mock Turtle Soup (see page 17 for two versions).

For the squimish cook, I would recommend the mock soup versus the Turtle Soup found on page 19 that requires the decapitation and bloodletting of a live turtle. (That's something you won't find on Food Network.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Funeral Home Advertisement for Newark, New Jersey

Here, the second advertisement on the page, is a possible lead on a funeral home that existed in 1917 in Newark, New Jersey. Notice that the advertisement provide the name of the mortician's father. This might indicate his father was the previous mortician. Which may also show that the funeral home was in existence for a longer period of time.

This advertisement is found in The Community Cook Book. Compiled and Published by the Women's Auxiliary of the First Presbyterian Church. South Orange, New Jersey. 1917.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advertisers Index from The Community Cook Book. South Orange, New Jersey

As I have written previously, many community cookbooks have advertisements scattered among the recipes.  This was a win-win situation for both the group who was publishing the cookbook and the business advertising. This is also great for genealogists and researchers since that provides information that includes people's names and occupations. So genealogists should do more than use community cookbooks to look for their female ancestor's names. They should also be seeking out these cookbooks to learn more about the community, especially if their ancestor was a business owner. Community cookbooks are a great source for social history when you are learning more about an ancestor's community and time period.

I received in the mail today one of my latest community cookbook acquisitions. The Community Cook Book. Compiled and Published by the Women's Auxiliary of the First Presbyterian Church. South Orange, New Jersey (1917) not only includes many advertisements but it also has an alphabetical index to the advertisers.  (Too bad there isn't an index to the recipe contributors as well).

This cookbook is without its original cover which may have included the owner's name on the inside.  But I do like how the owner inscribed the top of the title page with the names of two women and the words "recipes-good".

The First Presbyterian Church in South Orange, New Jersey who compiled and published this cookbook is still in existence. You can see their website here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cookbook Advertising Directed at Women 1912

One of the great aspects of community cookbooks is that they often include advertisements from community businesses. These advertisements helped pay for the printing of the cookbook. In the example below, the bank decided to target women in their advertisement, which was smart since they were the ones who used the cookbooks.  The bank was probably also seeing the potential in new customers.

From the Hathi Trust Digital Library,

I wonder how many banks today have a furnished rest room?

Of genealogical value in this ad are the names of the bank's officers at the bottom.

This advertisement and others are from the Christopher House Guild Cook Book, Compiled by the Christopher House Guild of the First Presbyterian Church, Evanston, Illinois (1912).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Jersey Community Cookbooks

Have a female ancestor from New Jersey?  There is a list of New Jersey community cookbooks on the Rutgers University Libraries website.  These cookbooks were written by women  from churches to membership organizations from 1900 to the present day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Food Friday: Jellied Veal Loaf

I like gelatin but I must admit that the combination of meat with gelatin doesn't thrill me.  I grew up with lots of Jello for dessert but mostly it was combined with fruit or a whipped topping. I remember the first time I saw a tomato aspic mold, I was about 20 years old, I couldn't understand why in the world someone thought that combining Jello and tomatoes was a good idea. (Now, if you like tomato aspic, please forgive me for the above comment, we all have our food preferences).

So for this Food Friday, a gelatin recipe you are probably glad no one made yesterday for Thanksgiving. This is one of many in this genre.

I highlighted this cookbook and recipe before.  You can read that posting here.

From Spirit Lake Cook Book (1937).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

1913 Student Recipe Book from Brigham Young College

From Brigham Young College Recipes (1913) available from University of Utah.
While this cookbook is not a community cookbook,  it is a cookbook written by a Brigham Young College student and her instructor that includes contributions from other women. Recipes appear to be from instructors at the college and family members. The description for this cookbook, found through the Mountain West Digital Library, says, "Brigham Young College Cooking Recipes cook book, handwritten and compiled by Mary Carl [Carlisle] and instructor Phoebe Nebeker. Included in the cookbook are recipes for first and second year domestic arts students at Brigham Young College...."

This Brigham Young College Cooking Recipes cookbook is a handwritten  book with some damage.  The archive description indicates a date of about 1913 for this cookbook. However, one recipe found on page 53 shows a date of May 27 '12 . Though the recipes are from the early 1900s, there are many that we would be familiar with today including fondant, cheese fondue (page 21) and beef stew (page 31). Some recipes are probably more reflective of their historical era like the recipe for Rock Buns (page 38) which is some sort of biscuit with currants.

Looking for an idea for those Thanksgiving leftovers?  What about Potato Candy? Chocolate does make everything taste better...

From Brigham Young College Recipes (1913) available from University of Utah.

This is a great piece of food history that indicates just some of the recipes being used by domestic arts students at Brigham Young College in the early 1900s.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Food Friday: Tomato Appetizer

I had been thinking of doing something fun on Fridays featuring community cookbook recipes.  The title Funky Food Friday seemed appropriate but I decided that I didn't want people to feel insulted in case they enjoy the recipes I feature. But let me just say that each Food Friday installment will feature more unusual recipes.

This first installment of Food Friday is from a community cookbook that was part of my maternal great-grandmother's collection. Schooners Recipes was written by the Schooner Club of The First Presbyterian Church in Monrovia, California.  It has a publish date of November, 1964. Although the recipes do feature the contributor's names, this particular one does not.

Our first recipe is for a tomato drink that includes whip cream and horseradish. 

So basically this is hot tomato juice with a frothy topping of whip cream and horseradish.  I like all of those ingredients but not sure I want them put all together.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Community Cookbook Contributors Aren't Always in the Same Community

Typically, when we see a community cookbook, the contributors are those who are somehow a part of the local community.  They all attend the same church, their kids go to the same elementary school or they share a favorite charitable cause.

However, one's community may be more broad than that.  In genealogy there is the concept of cluster research. Cluster research looks beyond the individual and looks at those who had contact with the individual ancestor, like local business people, neighbors, and midwives.  Our ancestor's did not live in a vacuum and because of this those cluster members may have documented your ancestors and their dealings with them.

The same is true for community cookbooks. Although the majority of the contributors have a local common bond, they may include others who share in that bond but are not part of the local group.  A good example is that recently a genealogy society asked me to contribute a recipe to their community cookbook.  While I have never been to that society, they asked because of our common bond as genealogists.  This group is at least 2 hours from where I live and my guess is no one would think to look in this cookbook for my name.

Not all community cookbooks include recipes from those who live elsewhere and in many cases, it may only include a few from the mother or sister of one of the contributors. But  there are other cookbooks that include many recipes from those living elsewhere. Such is the case for a list I was looking at for a Baptist Cook Book, Mount Vernon, Missouri (1895). The list of those contributing recipes was reprinted in the Ozar'Kin Vol. XIX, No. 4 (Winter 1997), available through the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). 

The list of contributors is quite large but below are contributors not living in the state of Missouri.

Miss Hannah Burson- Salineville, Ohio
Miss Lucy A Boucher- Seattle, Kentucky
Miss Fannie Burson- Alliance, Ohio
Mrs. Ruth G. Clark- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. L. J. Cunningham- Oakland City, Indiana
Mrs. V. J. Covell- Box 152, Rock Island, Illinois
Mrs. J. W. Daniels- Van Buren, Arkansas
Mrs. James Gillingham- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. Mattie L. Hardy- Waterville, Kansas
Miss Emilie W. Henrich- Humboldt, Kansas
Mrs. Rose Hetherington- Salinesville, Ohio
Jennie L. Hall, Nobleboro- Maine
Miss Lizzie Long, Atwater- New York
Mrs. Pantha Marbut, Lockport- Illinois
Mrs. R. E. Mason, Rockford- Kansas
Fanny Oliver- Alicel, Oregon
Mrs. Anna E. Richardson- Palatine, West Virginia
Mrs. W. P. Roberts- Loveland, Colorado
Mrs. May Roe- Alicel, Oregon
E. M. R.- Nobelboro, Maine
Mrs. Jennie Starr- Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Emma Sewell- Coleman, Texas
Mrs. M. Vomberg- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. Naomi Young- 816 19th St, San Francisco, California
Mrs. Lizzie Young - Atwater, New York

While it currently may be near impossible to figure out if your ancestress is in a community cookbook for a different location, it is important to be mindful of her associations.  Those associations can yield clues to her life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Using Cookbooks as Family History Books

Yesterday one of my Facebook friends posted a link to a news story about a family who took their family history and recipes and created a cookbook. (Read more about the story entitled, Family Records 160 years of History in Cookbook.)

One of my cousins did something similar to this. She wrote a cookbook where she included a brief story with each recipe. Stories included the author of  the recipe, memories of that person and when they cooked the dish (for example it it was a holiday or a family favorite). As I looked through her cookbook I noticed the names of ancestors as well as family friends. This cookbook is a non-traditional family history narrative.

A family cookbook could include quite a bit of family history including photographs of ancestors, images of their homes, kitchens, recipe cards or even signatures. And of course stories behind each recipes should be included. Not only is this a great genealogical gift  for those family members who are not into genealogy but it's a great way to document and pass along your family's history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Menu from Camp Funston, 1917

 On this Veterans Day I want to thank all those who are serving and who have served in the military. Your service is appreciated.

So thinking about Veterans Day and its precursor Armistice Day, I started wondering what people were eating during the World War I years. I came across a menu available through a digitized menu collection at the Los Angeles Public Library, for Camp Funston, Kansas.

Camp Funston holds an important place in the history of World War I. Funston saw nearly 50,000 recruits trained there. Also, it was the camp that had the first reported incidence of the Spanish Flu, the flu that was responsible for the 1918 Flu Epidemic. (To learn more about Camp Funston, see Wikipedia)

On December 25, 1917 a special meal was prepared for the 353rd Infantry at Camp Funston.

From the Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection,

Many of the menu items reflect what we are use to seeing as a traditional Holiday dinner; turkey and stuffing with yams and cranberry sauce, vegetables and desserts. Probably the only thing that looks out of place on a menu are the cigars and cigarettes. This menu reflects its time and what was available in Kansas. I'm assuming the mention of California fruits may have been a special treat.

Checking out a menu collection allows you to see what your family may have ate when they went out. It's a great way to gain some social history perspective on your ancestors.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Houston Presbyterian Church Cookbook circa 1883

Information about Church Cookbooks seem to be almost everywhere. Case in point is the inclusion of a page from a Presbyterian Church Cookbook in the book, Houston 1860-1900 by Ann Dunphy Becker (published by Arcadia and part of their Images of America series). On page 31 she has an image of a page from this cookbook, no other publication information is listed.  It also appears that the recipes from this cookbook may not have the names of submitters attached to them but it's hard to tell looking at only one page.

The page the author used in her book  is part of the Miscellaneous Receipts section of the cookbook.  What's interesting is that one of the recipes is for cough syrup and presumably one of the owners used a pencil to cross out the recipe and wrote next to it "Mistake.  Do not use. Poison." This might be a good warning in general that cures from the "olden" days may not be the best ones to use now.

That's one way to cure a cough. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Did Your Family Eat in the 1920s?

Ever wonder about your ancestor's life in the 1920s?  The website, The Roaring Twenties: A Historical Snapshot of Life in the 1920s and their  blog, provides some great information about all sorts of social history including food.

The short article on food includes information on what foods were ate, appliances and prohibition. A list of food advertisements provides an idea of what was available from various companies.

Other pages that relate to food include Prohibition and Garden.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The El Paso Cookbook

In many cases, community cookbooks are self published in small runs so that many are never archived. The total number of community cookbooks ever published will probably never be known.  But in a rare case, a cookbook may be reprinted and annotated for a modern audience.  Such is the case for the El Paso Cookbook, originally written to benefit the Ladies Axillary of the Y.M.C.A. in El Paso, Texas. This book is available to read at Google Books and available for sale at Amazon.

This cookbook provides a short history of charity cookbooks in Texas.  Edited by Andrew F. Smith, a Culinary Historian, he writes in the introduction, "The El Paso Cookbook is valuable from a historical standpoint-for what it tells us about El Paso and what it tells us about cookery at the beginning of the twentieth century."

This reprinting of an 1898 cookbook provides us with the names of 85 recipe contributors. According to Smith, women contributing recipes were local women, women whose husband's were stationed at Ft. Bliss, and women from other cities in Texas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. In the case of women who were not living in El Paso, their city is listed next to their name just under the recipe title. Along with recipes, there are also advertisements for local businesses.

Looking for cemeteries in El Paso?  Well this cookbook includes a full page advertisement for Concordia Cemetery (page 65).  The ad states "This cemetery is situated upon high ground thirty feet above the river level. It has been greatly improved and beautified under the new management and no effort will be spared to add to its attractiveness. The Masonic and Odd Fellows' Societies, the Jewish and Catholic Churches and other organizations have their burial grounds immediately adjoining this cemetery."

One of the funnier ads found in this cookbook is for an insurance company which proclaims "Before trying the recipes in this book, have you lives (sic) insured with The Equitable Life Assurance Society." (page 98).

Those with ancestors in El Paso at the turn of the century might find the ads, and the names of the women contributors in this volume, of interest to your research.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On the Bookshelf: The American History Cookbook

I've been reading various cookbook histories and picked up The American History Cookbook by Mark H. Zanger at my local library. This book provides the reader with  historical information on food and recipes throughout American history. These recipes are largely from cookbooks published in each historical era. Recipes begin with America before it was "discovered" and then continue through history to include the Revolutionary War, Early American Health Food, The Civil War, Settlers and Homesteaders, World War I, The Great Depression, World War II and ends in the 1970s. With over 50 chapters providing information on food during different time periods, you are bound to get some ideas about what your ancestor may have ate or may have had access to.

One aspect of my own family food history I find interesting is the differences in the diet of my mother's family vs. my father's family.  For example, my paternal great-grandmother use to make a bunch of pies each Thanksgiving.  There were many different flavors to choose from. One was mincemeat pie.  Now as a young girl, just the name of that pie was enough to make me run.  The name alone made it seem like a pie to avoid, especially since the pumpkin pies were plentiful.  Her version of this pie is probably what many people are familiar with.  It was a mixed fruit pie.  I have noticed that some stores even sell mincemeat in jars that you can then pour into a pie crust.

For my mother's side of the family, mincemeat was a lot like it sounded. It was a meat pie. There was no fruit in it.

Reading The American History Cookbook provided me with some other versions of mincemeat pie. One of which, is found in the Temperance and Prohibition Recipes (1837-1930) section on page 195. This recipe calls for beef  heart, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, salt, molasses, apples and raisins. So a mixture of meat and fruits fill this pie. This recipes was found in a temperance cookbook, substituting the brandy usually found in the recipe from that era, with molasses.

The second recipe a Green Tomato Mincemeat from 1940 (page 394) shows a version where green tomatoes and apples are used in a "mock" mincemeat pie version.

Obviously, food preferences change over time. What may have been considered everyday fare in the past may have all but disappeared in the present. Food availability, food storage methods, money and other factors largely determine our diets. Reading cookbooks like The American History Cookbook provides us with some ideas about the food lives our ancestors lived.  And doesn't that make for a more interesting family history?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Historic Paxton Church Cookbook

You have to love a cookbook that has so much rolled into it. Not only does the cookbook, Historic Paxton, Her Days and Her Ways 1722-1913. Family Recipes Contributed by The Women's Aid Society of Paxton Church have recipes but it also has a comprehensive history of this Paxton, Pennsylvania  church. This history includes not only the church, the ministers, and the attached school but even the history of the graveyard.  This is my kind of cookbook! There is 144 pages of historical content before you reach the recipes section.

To get to the recipes you will need to forward the book to page 145 which begins the cookbook portion with bread recipes. The names of the women who provided recipes in this cookbook are largely listed by their husband's names.  While this does happen occasionally in early cookbooks it still provides information on when your family lived in a certain area and what organizations they belonged to. Names of those who submitted recipes in this book include:

Mrs. Marshall Rutherford
Mrs. J. E. Rutherford
Mrs. Bellett Lawson
Mrs. Thomas Lyter
Mrs. F. O. Tayler
Mrs. J. Q. A. Rutherford
Mrs. S. F. Barber
Mrs. W. Franklin Rutherford
Mrs. Charles Smith
Mrs. John Y Boyd
Miss. Eliza E. Rutherford
Mrs. J.A. Lutz
Miss Margaret S. Rutherford
Miss K. Virginia Ruhterford
Mrs. Charles Forney
Mrs. James Boyd
Mrs. Edgar Martin
Mrs. J. F. Myers
Miss Janet Elder
Mrs. S. Gray Bigham
Miss Keziah Rutherford
Mrs. Arthur Bailey
Mrs. Alison Mayhew
Mrs. H. F. Kramer
Mrs. Howard A. Birchall
Mrs. John Wensell
Mrs. Thomas Smallwood
Mrs. John Elder
Mrs. Wm. Sourbur
Mrs. Ricker
Mrs. S. H. Rutherford
Mrs. Donald I. Rutherford
Miss Eleanor G Rutherford
Mrs. George C Martin
Mrs. Hudgins
Mrs. J. H. Sheesley
Mrs. Harry Holmes, Jr.
Mrs. George Sheaffer
Miss Isabella Rutherford
Mrs. A. P. L. Dull
Mrs. Kochenderfer
Mrs. H. A. Rutherford
Miss Helen Rutherford
Mrs. Daniel Ricker
Mrs. J. C. Wensell
Mrs. John Schuster
Mrs. William Kunkle
Mrs. Harry Fitting
Mrs. Joshua E. Rutherford
Miss Matilda Elder
Mrs. Harry Holmes
Mrs. S. Ralston Dickey
Miss June Rutherford
Miss Mary B Rutherford
Miss Martha K Rutherford
Mrs. Howard A Rutherford
Mrs. Robert C Welsh
Miss Margaret Brown Rutherford
Mrs. E. M. Mulock
Mrs. Darwin F. Pickard
Miss Eva Kunckle
Miss Caroline Smallwood
Miss Inda H Kauffman
Mrs. J. S. Rose
Mrs. J. A. Rose
Mrs. Francis W. Rutherford
Mrs. David Martin
Mrs. Kochenderfer
Mrs. Matthew B. Elder

Women are also acknowledged in the beginning pages by the editor for their contribution to this history.  This cookbook is rich with detail and if you ancestor is listed, you will learn much about their time and their religion as well as what they ate.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recipes from the Past: Vinegar Pie

Have you ever thought about the food that generations past ate but that for whatever reason is absent from your dinner table?  I'm always interested in knowing why some of the dishes of our parents or even grand-parents generation no longer are fixed.  Now, I do realize that in some cases you wouldn't want them to end up on your dinner plate. My grandmother made head cheese and though I realize some people like it, I'd prefer not eat it.

One of the mailing lists I subscribe to is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Food and Society.  In one of the threads there was a mention of vinegar pie. I, like others, have not tasted vinegar pie. However, I have seen mention of it in several of my older cookbooks. I wonder why it has lost favor in the pie world?  The name may be the reason, but maybe fruit pies are just preferred in our era of access to fresh fruit all year long.

So fast forward to today when I was doing some research and saw an article by genealogist Myra Vanderpool Gormley entitled, Vinegar Pie, Cat's Eyes and Tales From Grandma's Kitchen from the Nov/Dec 2006 Ancestry Magazine.

In this article she talks about her favorite pie being vinegar pie.  She describes the ingredients as "eggs, sugar, cornstarch, apple cider vinegar, cream of tartar and vanilla extract.  Later meringue is added to the top of the filling and browned.

So have you had vinegar pie?  What does it taste like?  Do you make it still or is it simply a pie of the past in your family?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Libraries and Websites to Find Community Cookbooks

This list will be migrating over to the right side bar but for now I thought I would bring your attention to just a few places that have collections of community cookbooks.  These resources are not just regional, they have collections from all over the United States. This list is in no particular order.


Los Angeles Public Library

University of Illinois Library

Library of Congress 

Radcliffe Institute Schlesinger Library Harvard University


Internet Archive

Friday, September 24, 2010

Where Can I Find Community Cookbooks?

As with any new resource that you want to research for clues to your family history, the most important question is where to find that resource. Currently, community cookbooks are a little different than the majority of genealogical resources we typically use. They are not indexed in a database. They are not available on a subscription site. And because they are largely self-published, they are not part of  all library collections. So what's a researcher to do?

Well, that's when it's necessary to not mull over where they aren't but where they are. So start with considering the possibility that they are a home source. Does any family member have a community cookbook that might have recipes from family members? We often don't ask to see books that family members own, so it's not a source that those providing you with information would think of.  So ask.

Check out library catalogs.  There are some collections of community cookbooks housed in various libraries throughout the United States. A good example is the Los Angeles Public Library which has a large collection of cookbooks, including community cookbooks, going back to California's  first community cookbooks. There are a few places to find cookbooks online. I will be puttting together a list of these libraries and websites and adding it to the right hand side of the blog for reference.  Look for that being posted sometime next week.

I firmly believe that genealogy is everywhere. Use ebay to search for community cookbooks that are for sale. You can also save your searches so that ebay continues searching for those keywords and alerts you when they are found. I searched on ebay and found hits for searches on "charity cookbooks" "community cookbooks" "church cookbook", searching by the name of a religion and the word cookbook and searching on a city and the word cookbook.

I know it's much easier to go for the information that is easily found on a genealogy subscription site.  And there is no doubt that that is a great start to your research. But as you fill in the details to your female ancestor's life, consider taking extra time to hunt down community cookbooks that recreate a time and a place that your ancestor was part of.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Community Cookbook: Spirit Lake Cook Book

One of the oldest community cookbooks in my personal collection is the Spirit Lake Cook Book sponsored by Dorcas Circle of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 1937. Spirit Lake, Iowa.

This cookbook features recipes and advertising from local businesses. Including advertising was mutually beneficial, it allowed businesses to receive much needed exposure and helped to offset costs associated with the cookbook while helping the group raise much needed funds.  Not all cookbooks include this advertising but this specific one includes 12 pages of similar looking advertisements. Ads representing food type businesses like the local creamery, market, bakery, Coca-Cola bottling company and cafe are represented here.  There are also ads that would be of interest to genealogists like that for the  Donovan Funeral Home and Baumgardner's Furniture Store and Funeral Home. (Need to know what funeral homes existed in your ancestor's time?--Look in a community cookbook from that era!) Even a female attorney is found among the advertising section, Virginia Bedell, as well as a female Ph.D., Mary Price Roberts.

One of the great aspects of this advertising section is that in this small town, even small today with only a little over 4,000 in the 2000 Census according to Wikipedia (,_Iowa), has listings for probably almost every business, which could help one gain a sense of what occupational opportunities existed.

What about the recipes?  Well they run the gamut of protein dishes, vegetables, salads, desserts and pickles/relishes. Being the era of less wastefulness than our own, the meat dishes include different kinds of "meat loafs" including one made with ham and one made with jellied veal. There is Mock California Chicken that is made with noodles and tuna and lots of kinds of pickles which would have been great way to preserve foods. These pickles include both vegetable and fruit pickles.

The above image shows a recipe for Jellied Veal Loaf, among other things.  Curious what is in the Jellied Veal Loaf?

Jellied Veal Loaf
3 T. diced celery
2 T. gelatine (sic)
1c cold water
1 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
3 T lemon juice
2 c meat stock
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T chopped onion
2 c cooked and ground meat
3 T chopped green pepper
3 hard boiled eggs

Soak gelatin in water, dissolve in hot meat stock, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. When mixture begins to thicken, add meat, onion, green pepper and eggs, cut in pieces. Put in a wet mold in which you have previously poured 1/4 inch hot gelatine (sic). Garnish with slices of egg and green pepper. Serves 10-12. (Recipe by Mrs. H. C. Bradfield).

Surnames included in this cookbook are: Belden, Tritle, Bradfield, Smith, Jahn, Haakenson, Bramblett, Titus, Hill, Furman, Schlotterbeck, Girg, Tott, Harker, Peterson, Brainard, Brown, Pillsbury, Rodawig, Sylvester, Baumgardner, Burt, Hughes, Maytum, Richards, Moore, Moreland, Flemming, Blair, Buck, Deibner, Edwards, Cornell, Lepley, Raebel, Willadsen, Snow, Smithers, LaFontaine, Rector, Clark, Baldy, Parsons. Maish, Arp, Wiegand, Farr, Ellis, Donovan, Klein, Salyards, Radcliff, Hinshaw, Schuneman, Webb, Miller, Peck, Bernholtz, LaDoux, Phippin, Dempsie, Jensen, Lewis, Jones, Osborn, Flemming, Anderson, Schneidawind, Martinson, Cother, Rienke, Narey, Frost, Swailes, Price, Gray, Grant, Gravatt, Welty, Kushe, Redington, Simmons, Fitch, Saupe, Rank, Sarazine, Roberts, Snow, Barlow, Marshall, Williams, O'Dea, McMahon, Redger, Yarnes, Blackert, Hanson, Walson, Jahr, Salyards, Carver, Gerkin, Pedersen, Rector, Fontaine, Steenburg, Fronk, Grove, Tintinger, Strong, Hill, Lindquist, Francis, Hornseth, Ilsley, Adams, Rank, Magnuson, Wherry, Dowden, Walter, McNall, Williamz, Thomas.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Did Your Family Eat During World War II?

World War II ushered in an era of necessity that changed the way Americans, and those in other nations, ate. This era included such experiences as food rationing, victory gardens and introductions to different types of food. All families would have been affected as their choices at the grocery store were diminished and women were encouraged to make substitutions for well known favorites and to make what they did have last longer.


Not just food was rationed during the war years. I remember a story from my own family history about a great-great grandmother who passed away; no family members went to her funeral because gas was rationed and they lived too far away. Rationing affected more than just what food you could buy and how much gas you could purchase it affected your access to some durable goods.

So what food was rationed? Sugar, meat, coffee, processed foods, cheese, canned milk and fats. To see a list of rationed items and the dates they were rationed, check out this website on World War II rationing.

Families were issued ration books with coupons that were used to purchase food. Ration book covers include the name of the person who it was issued to and their address. These books often are a home source that may be archived by a family member and can be used by the genealogist to add interest to your family history. I have also seen these books at antique stores and on eBay. GenealogyToday’s databases include one with 9,800 names from War Ration books. This unique database provides another way to find family members. While these books provide little information, it does place your ancestor in a specific place in time.

We’re Eating What For Dinner???

In some cases, Americans were encouraged to substitute different food stuffs for what was familiar due to rationing or limited quantities. One of my older relatives lived with my family for a time and refused to eat any ground beef. This refusal stemmed from World War II when horse meat was provided as a substitute for beef. Even after more than 45 years, she was convinced the government was slipping horse meat into packages of ground beef.

Other meat substitutes both animal and plant based were also suggested. Tricks to making food last longer were encouraged. Your family may have changed their diet considerably in order to comply with shortages. Patriotic propaganda that came in the form of posters and cookbooks that told women how to shop and what to cook.

Victory Gardens

When you think about it, it makes sense to encourage the masses to plant gardens when food is at a premium. A little self sufficiency makes it possible to spread the wealth so to speak. One way our families were encouraged to help with the war effort was to plant a victory garden. The May 3, 1943 issue of Life magazine (p. 29) includes a pictorial of gardens in all kinds of places in the United States including at a prison. The caption to that picture notes that prisoners aren’t allowed to plant corn, lest it be used to hide from the guards.

So Now What?

What may seem like everyday, ordinary life to older family members can add interest to your family history narrative. Interview older family members about what they ate, how they sacrificed and did without during the war years. If you are that older family member, write down your experiences. History is made up of the experiences of individuals and history is lost when we neglect to tell our stories and our experiences.

Want to learn more about eating during World War II? The book Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern America by Jessamyn Neuhaus includes a few chapters on the subject.   Portions of the book are available as a preview on Google Books.

So what did your family eat during World War II?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Introduction: Community Cookbook Detective

By Madaleine J. Laird
I'm good at finding things, always have been. My life improved dramatically after I found Gena Philibert-Ortega on Facebook. Long story short, I sent her a friend request, she accepted, we met in person at a Family History Expo, and now I inhabit her guest bedroom on a fairly regular basis. We've apparently formed what my mother would call a mutual admiration society. Gena introduced me to the fascinating notion of community cookbooks as an untapped source of genealogical information, and somehow I've managed to impress her with my detective skills . . . at least I think I have.
One of my contributions to Food.Family.Ephemera is the Community Cookbook Detective series, in which I'll report on my efforts to identify the people, places, organizations, and events associated with community cookbooks. I'm sure this isn't big news to anyone who's into genealogy the way Gena and I are, but sometimes those pesky details cannot be found within the cookbooks themselves. Uncovering the details—as well as the big picture—requires digging a little deeper. I'd like to believe I'm up to the challenge!
Staying sharp requires practice, however, and I'm hoping that readers of Food.Family.Ephemera can provide me with some cases to work on. Do you own a community cookbook whose origins are a bit mysterious? If so, you're not the only one. I've come across several that contain no hint of where, when, or why they were published. Many community cookbooks were created as fundraisers for churches, schools, and other community organizations, so it's not surprising that compilers were more focused on immediate concerns than on the cookbooks' future value as informational artifacts.
If you have a mystery cookbook stuffed inside a kitchen cabinet, let me take a look at it! Tell me as much as you remember about how it came to be in your possession. Who gave it to you? Where did you buy it? How long have you owned it? Scan or photograph the cover and the first few pages of the book, then send the images to, and please put "Community Cookbook Detective" in the subject line of your email. I hope we can solve a few mysteries together, or at least have fun trying!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cookbooks Reflecting our Religion

On my blog, Gena's Genealogy I have a weekly theme called Church Record Sunday. These postings deal with archives, books and records that might help you find church records for your ancestor. On occasion I have written about cookbooks as part of Church Record Sunday.

In studying community cookbooks, considering the beliefs of the group who is publishing the cookbook can help in learning more about your ancestor's life. Their beliefs about food including the use of alcohol, meat, vegetables and desserts will become apparent in the pages of their cookbook. While a recipe might hint at an ethnic origin so too will it reflect a religious belief system.

I like something that Steve Luxenberg, the author of Annie's Ghosts said in a presentation I attended. He pointed out that you have to go beyond a document and what it says; you have to look at what the document tells us. Initially a community/church cookbook may just reflect at the very least the name of the person who submitted the recipe. But in truly reading the recipe you may learn more about their life.

The following posting appeared origianlly on Gena's Genealogy on May 23, 2010.  I thought it would be approrpiate to repost it here.

Church Record Sunday: Seventh-day Adventists and Food

This morning I finished reading a great book that was a history of America told through cookbooks. From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals by Barbara Haber was an excellent read that detailed cookbooks from the FDR White House, WWII Japanese Interment Camps in the Philippines, African American Cookbooks and more.

One of the chapters, Chapter 3: They Dieted for Our Sins: America's Food Reformers,  discusses dietary reformers such as Sylvester Graham and the Kelloggs. Their 19th century food ideas are intertwined with the dietary ideas of Ellen G. White, founder of the Seventh-day Adventists.  Haber has some interesting history of these early diet reformers and how their ideas has shaped the way we eat today.

For those with Seventh-day Adventist ancestors, you may want to read more about the history and beliefs of the early church.  Haber includes in her annotated bibliography some books that you may be itnerested in.

Numbers, Ronald L. Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

Graham, Roy E. Ellen G. White, Co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. New York: Peter Lang, 1985.

She also includes books about Graham and Kellog in this bibliography as well.

While this posting isn't the typical posting about church records, I think the social history of our ancestors is important and this look at the dietary reformers is one that is vital to understanding the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome to Food.Family.Ephemera

Some readers may know me as a genealogist. As a genealogist, I am very interested in the records that our female ancestors left behind. Family history researchers often get frustrated by the lack of records for women and the difficulty in researching women. This concern led me to thinking, what records exist that are unique to women? What resources are not necessarily considered genealogy sources but may hold clues to women's lives?

One such record is the diaries/journals of women which hold rich information about the author's life and the lives of the women she knew and wrote about. Midwife's journals provide us a glimpse of the midwife and her work as well as the families she served.

Another source that is like a name's list of women is signature/friendship quilts. These quilts document a place in time and typically an event. Signature quilts are another interest of mine and I will be writing about those in the future. One recent melding of genealogy and quilting is a new blog that a few of us dreamed up Genea-Quilters, where you can post photos and stories of your ancestor's quilts. (Join us on Facebook too).

Finally, what this blog is all about. One of the sources that are part of women's lives are cookbooks. There are different types of cookbooks, some written by food companies, manufacturers, some written by chefs, and a host of others. But it's the community or charity cookbooks that provide information about what women cook and share with their families. Community cookbooks began to be published during the time of the American Civil War. They provide recipes from a group of women and at the very least include their names and affiliation. Sometimes they include much more information that tells us something about their lives.

This blog will explore community cookbooks, what they tell us about women's lives and where you can find them. My research into the topic is going to include presentations to various societies and articles as well as a database of these cookbooks searchable by the individual woman's name (more on this to come). This is an ongoing project that will show the valuable resource that community cookbooks are to genealogists and historians.

So welcome to this blog. I hope it brings to life the great sources left behind by our female ancestors.