Beacon Street Diary blog

Archives Month continues: Food for Thought

As we continue to feature the CLA's food-related collections for Archives Month, it feels like a perfect opportunity to share some of our favorite recipes, advertisements, and food related stories highlighted from our collections between the 17th and 20th centuries.

We have a recipe for samp, which is a version of a Native American recipe adapted by English colonists. I made the recipe, which is a porridge, adding a little maple syrup and berries for good measure. It made for a hearty breakfast, and tastes like a precursor to Johnny Cakes and pancakes. Also from the Colonial Era, there are multiple mentions of food and foodstuffs in the CLA's New England's Hidden Histories collections including cider from Northbridge, MA; cranberries from Wrentham, MA; and lists of gifts to ministers as payment including chocolate, pigs, and wine from Stoneham, MA and Haverhill, MA.

In the 19th century, we noted a lot of recipes for steamed puddings and baked goods including ingredients such as saleratus, a precursor to baking soda. Making some of these recipes proved harder than expected, as there was no standardization to ovens or thermometer gauges in the 19th century so we had to do a little guess work on recipes. Note that there's no salt, fat, or baking instructions to the Maple Molasses Cookies recipe at all!

 
Maple Molasses Cookies recipe –
Winnowed Gems Cookbook (1899)
by The Woman's Missionary Society of
the Congregational Church, Summer Hill, NY.
  Laconia Cake –
Mary Whitcher's Shaker House-keeper (1882)

Additionally, in the 19th century, it is easy to see the development of a mass consumer culture through the rise of advertisements for food and cooking related equipment. Here are some examples:

 
Shakers’ Sarsaparilla ­­advertisement –
Mary Whitcher's Shaker House-keeper (1882)
  Marvel Flour advertisement –
Winnowed Gems Cookbook (1899)
by The Woman's Missionary Society of
the Congregational Church, Summer Hill, NY.
 
 
Beardsley’s Shredded Codfish advetisement –
Tried and True Cook Book (1898)
by The Ladies League of
Emmanuel Church, Springfield, MA
  Rising Sun Stove Polish advertisement –
The Boston Almanac and Directory (1891)
 
Glenwood Range advertisement –
Tried and True Cook Book (1898)
by The Ladies League of
Emmanuel Church, Springfield, MA

Some of the staff's favorite recipes have, without doubt, come from 20th century church cookbooks. These recipes are nostalgic for some, amusing for others, and generally beloved for their usage and creative pairing of ingredients. Here are a few favorites, all from the 1978 Kettle n' Kirke Cookbook, a 175th anniversary historical cookbook from the First Congregational Church, UCC in Littleton, New Hampshire.

 
Mom's Perfection Salad recipe   Six Can Casserole recipe
 
Gum Drop Cookies recipe

It's been great fun celebrating Archives Month through food, but it also highlights a more serious message. Archival collections may be used for a myriad of purposes, far beyond their obvious subject matters. All of these materials shed insight into times gone by from, socio-economic, cultural, gendered and geographical perspectives. We hope you've enjoyed learning about the CLA's food related collections as much as we have enjoyed sharing them. Cheers!

P.S. Have a Potato Chip cookie

Add a Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.