Celebrating Bastille Day: 18th century French culinary books at the Schlesinger (with recipes!)


French cuisine and French culture are practically synonymous, so we are celebrating Bastille Day (July 14th) by highlighting some of Schlesinger’s culinary books from late 18th century France. Grain shortages and the consequent increase in bread prices were among the causes of the French Revolution, and the food supply was also a problem for the new government. The following publications offer insight into some of the disruptions and continuities of life in the First French Republic.


Prior to the Revolution, books were approved for publication by royal censors and bore the phrase “Avec approbation et privilege du Roi” (With approval and favor of the King). The king could also order the publication of a work, as shown here in the 1789 Traité sur la culture et les usages des Pommes de terre, de la Patate, et du Topinambour (Treaty on the culture and use of the potato, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichoke) by Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, which was “published and printed by order of the King.”

The Faculté de Médicine de Paris had approved the potato for food in the early 1770s, but people still had their doubts. In the forward to the Traité, Parmentier notes the recent bad weather and mediocre harvests that had forced people to reconsider the potato—especially since the potato seemed to do well when grain harvests were bad. Most of the book is about cultivation, with a small section on cooking potatoes and on potato bread.

Title page from Treaty on the culture and use of the potato, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichoke by Antoine-Augustin Parmentier published in 1789 (by order of the King). Find the book in HOLLIS  http://bit.ly/MmrXbj] or read a full-text version online.  http://bit.ly/Mn3lBV]

Foreword assuring the edibility of potatoes from Antoine-Augustin Parmentier’s Treaty on the culture and use of the potato, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichoke.


Originally published in the French Republican year III (1794/1795) and attributed to Madame Mérigot, La Cuisinière républicaine sought to teach simple ways of preparing and preserving potatoes. In the Schlesinger Library’s facsimile reprint, published in 1976, the introduction identifies this publication as the first cookbook of the Republic, and the first collection of potato recipes.

Another culinary book published during the French Republican year III (1794) was Leçons élémentaires sur la choix & la conservation des grains by Louis Cotte, a former Father Superior who had renounced his vows during the deschristianization of France. Intended for the edification of “les bonnes Ménageres,” or good housewives, the book gives catechetical lessons on various aspects of grain production and bread making, including a section on potato bread (lesson 10) while actively encouraging a new Republican identity.

Title page from The [female] republican cook, that teaches a simple manner of preparing potatoes; with some advice on the steps necessary for preserving them. Find the book in HOLLIS  http://bit.ly/Lc316m]

Title page from Elementary lessons on the selection and conservation of grains, on the operation of mills and bakeries, and on the bread tax. Find the book in HOLLIS  http://bit.ly/M4X1AG]

RECIPES FROM La Cuisinière républicaine

Potato salad recipe from La Cuisinière républicaine: “When the potatoes are cooked, cut them up and season them with oil, vinegar, fines herbes [parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil], salt and pepper; or, instead of oil, butter or cream: eat this salad hot or cold. Another way, with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, yellow beets and sliced gherkins.”

Potato bread recipe from La Cuisinière républicaine: “Those who bake can mix potatoes in their bread, half or even more. Crush the potatoes still warm with a rolling pin, then mix with the dough and knead together.”

New Medical Romance Collection at Schlesinger


Elizabeth SeifertSchlesinger’s growing collection of romance fiction now includes the complete works of Missouri writer Elizabeth Seifert (1897-1983), internationally-bestselling author of more than 80 medical romances.

As recounted in the catalog of rare book dealer Between The Covers, Seifert completed 18 months of medical school at Washington University but was denied degree candidacy and left, marrying and becoming a mother.

Seifert wrote her first romance, Young Doctor Galahad, at age 40, when her husband John Gasparotti, an injured veteran of the First World War, was no longer able to work. The novel won the $10,000 Redbook Magazine prize for first novels in 1938, and her career was launched. Her works were translated into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, and Italian, and were especially popular in England.

Schlesinger’s collection, which was assembled by the author, contains 344 volumes — every American and overseas edition of her works, many inscribed by her. In addition, 20 historical romances by her sister, Shirley Seifert (1888-1971) are included, notably The Wayfarer, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 (a signal year for the Seiferts!). Shirley Seifert was one of six founders of the St. Louis Writers Guild; her success may have encouraged her younger sisters Elizabeth and Adele (Adele Seifert wrote mysteries).

Elizabeth Seifert medical romance collection
Photograph by Corey Bechelli for Between The Covers Rare Books

Elizabeth Seifert’s oeuvre gives a broad view of a half-century of popular perceptions of medicine and hospitals, of male and female doctors (several of her main characters are women struggling to gain acceptance as doctors), and of romantic relationships with medical professionals. Her novels were praised for their credible medical details, and her medical training was often cited in cover blurbs.

Besides tracing the writing careers of two very successful women, the Seifert collection documents the history of romance publishing, as it includes so many editions of each title, and also presents a wide array of book cover art and book design, spanning 45 years.

The collection complements two collections of nurse romances recently added to Schlesinger, and offers a window into the popular glorification of doctors that the women’s movement would begin to pick apart in the 1960s.

— Marylène Altieri, Curator of Books and Printed Materials

Elizabeth Seifert medical romance collection
Photograph by Corey Bechelli for Between The Covers Rare Books

Fay House Re-opens after Renovations


Exterior of Fay House, 1906

Today, the Radcliffe Institute celebrates the renovation and re-opening of Fay House with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Fay House has been at the heart of Radcliffe College, and now the Institute, since its very earliest days. The historic Fay Mansion was purchased in 1885 to provide the first permanent quarters for the growing college.  It now houses the offices of the Dean, the Executive Dean, Communications, Development, and Finance.

Learning more about the history of the house, College, and Institute has never been easier thanks to the digitization of many of Radcliffe’s periodicals and publications. The text of these materials that reach back to the inception of the College is fully searchable. A search for Fay House within the complete run of The Radcliffe Magazine turned up “A history of Fay House,” published in the March 1900 issue of Radcliffe Magazine that includes many fascinating details about the origin and previous owners of the house.

In the September 1985 issue of the Radcliffe Quarterly, on the occasion of the centenary of the House becoming part of Radcliffe, Jane Knowles, the college archivist, gave us an update on the history of the house in “A Roof of One’s Own.” It is clear from both of these articles that throughout its long history, Fay House has undergone many modifications and renovations as the needs of the College, and then the Institute changed, but one thing is certain, the house is sure to remain central to the Institute and its mission.

Radcliffe Magazine, 1899-1920

Radcliffe Quarterly, 1916-2009

Additional images of Fay House from the Radcliffe College Archives

Happy National Library Week: Jane Maud Campbell


National Library Week 2012 logoToday is National Library’s Workers Day — a part of the American Library Association’s 2012 National Library Week (April 8-14).

To celebrate librarians, we are highlighting the papers of Jane Maud Campbell (MC 382) available for research at the Schlesinger Library. The small collection is available entirely online through Harvard’s open collections program.



Who was Jane Maud Campbell?

Jane Campbell, circa 1916Jane Maud Campbell was born in Liverpool, England, one of seven children of George and Jane Cameron Campbell. When she was twelve, the family moved to the United States, and she attended a private school in Richmond, Virginia. Returning to Great Britain, Campbell graduated in 1886 from the Ladies’ College of Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy.

After graduation, she returned to the United States and worked as an assistant at the Free Public Library in Newark, New Jersey. In 1902 she was made head of public libraries in Passaic, New Jersey, and became increasingly concerned with the plight of newly arrived immigrants.

In 1910 she left the Passaic Free Library to join the North American Civic League in New York City, where she taught immigrants about naturalization and their prospects for employment as American citizens. In 1913 she was appointed Educational Director for Work with Aliens of the Massachusetts Library Commission, the first such post in the United States.

In 1922 Campbell left Massachusetts to be closer to her family, securing a position as head librarian of the Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg, Virginia. She died in Lynchburg in April 1947.

Some documents from the collection

Please note: click on any image of a letter to see a larger (more readable) version. To return to this post, click on your browser’s back button.

Document #1: Campbell’s Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy bursar’s report card with course listings such as knitting and darning, cleaning and scullery work, and practical dressmaking (page #359)

Campbell at the Newark Public Library, 1901
1901 photograph of Campbell at the reference desk at the Free Public Library in Newark, New Jersey

Document #2: A handwritten draft letter to the Editor of the Daily News, circa 1912, extolling the praises of the card catalog (pages #688-689)


Document #3: Campbell’s handwritten speech, circa 1913, relating how librarians (“modest people [who] have to be satisfied with a knowledge that if our efforts entitle us to our reward, it is postponed…”) can assist immigrants in becoming library patrons (pages #1139-1140)


Document #4: A typewritten draft letter to Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg, Virginia with a detailed description of Campbell’s professional career as a librarian (pages #713-716)



Schlesinger Library Conservation Corner


In times of economic downturn and transition one is prompted to look back to the last century for guidance on how to comport oneself in society. The Schlesinger Library’s collection of largely 19th century etiquette books is a great place to start. This collection of approximately 150 books was donated to the library by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. Here we can find the expected topics on introductions, personal (and spiritual) hygiene, letter writing, weddings, elocution and the value of carefully chosen words. Surprisingly, one can also find chapters on the proper way to rescue a drowning person, the fashions of immigrants, and the appropriate time and place to wear diamonds. In these modern times, many of the volumes in this collection are having problems of their own. They exhibit concerns typical of late nineteenth century bound materials—brittle paper, weak sewing, and detached bindings. Their problems are addressed by a conservator who designs individual treatments to support their weak points, shore up their bindings, and generally safeguard the collection for future researchers. For more 19th century etiquette books, search HOLLIS: http://tinyurl.com/cmjdewa

Book cover. Title reads Gems of Deportment

Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with a “carefully tested receipt” for Irish Stew from 1864


Saddle of mutton, haunch of venison, sirloin of beef, plate 2 from Modern Cookery for Private Families

Plate 2 from Modern Cookery for Private Families

Receipt for Baked Irish Stew
Fill a brown upright Nottingham jar with alternate layers of mutton (or beef), sliced potatoes, and mild onions; and put in water and seasoning as above; cover the top closely with whole potatoes (pared), and send the stew to a moderate oven. The potatoes on the top should be well cooked and browned before the stew is served. We have not considered it necessary to try this receipt, which was given to us by some friends who keep an excellent table, and who recommended it much. It is, of course, suited only to a quite plain family dinner. The onions can be omitted when their flavour is not liked.Recipe from Modern Cookery for Private Families reduced to a system of easy practice, in a series of carefully tested receipts, in which the principles of Baron Liebig and other eminent writers have been as much as possible applied and explainedby Eliza Acton, London, 1864, p. 243.
Learn more in HOLLIS: http://tinyurl.com/6ux32lk
Full text of this title is available at http://tinyurl.com/6pxdla7

Love Letters


While working on collections at the Schlesinger Library, archivists often get to experience the life journey a person or family takes as they go from birth to death with all that happens in between.

One of the most enjoyable items to work with is the love letter. Written from the heart, these letters can tell tales of heartfelt love, worry, or despair. Conducting a search of the Schlesinger Library’s collections in HOLLIS for “love letters” and “courtship” will result in a wide range of collections where these letters reside.

Valentine from the Doris Stevens Papers
(Doris Stevens Papers)

Here are a sample of some of the lesser known love letters at the Schlesinger Library:

Enjoy and have a Happy Valentines’ Day!

Please note: click on any image to see a larger (more readable) version. To return to this post, click on your browser’s back button.

(Miriam Jay Wurts Andrus Papers)

Miriam Jay Wurts was a young woman in the summer of 1932 when she took a vacation with her best friend to a dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There she met E. Cowles Andrus, an up-and-coming medical doctor who was teaching at John Hopkins University. In this letter, written August 24, 1932, Miriam’s most persistent boyfriend, Thornton “Floyd” Lorentzen, petulantly states, “So the doctor is interesting and attractive? I’m terribly jealous. I hope he is married and has a flock of kids. I think I even hate him.” Miriam became engaged to Andrus in December of that year, and the two were married June 1933.

envelope from Andrus letter

letter from Floyd, August 1932--page 1     letter from Floyd, August 1932--page2

letter from Floyd, August 1932--page3     letter from Floyd, August 1932

(Doris Stevens Papers)

Suffragist and international women’s rights advocate, Doris Stevens, was lucky enough to find love twice in her life. From 1921-1929 she was married to lawyer Dudley Field Malone. In 1935 she married journalist Jonathan Mitchell, whom she had known for over ten years. Both men were passionate in expressing their feelings through their letters to Stevens.

Dudley Field Malone

Malone closed this letter dated July 3, 1918, with this heartfelt statement: “I have so passionately longed for you yesterday and to-day… as if it had been weeks since I held you warm and close in my arms. But you, wonderful blessed, are so given by God Himself to me that I love you, love you, love you with a love and passion such as in my Irish boy-heart, I never even dreamed in all the long years gone by and I will love you, my own sweetness, with the deepest love and constant devotion.”

image of Dudley Field Malone with handwritten comments

letter from Dudley Field Malone, July 1918 -- page 1     letter from Dudley Field Malone, July 1918 -- page 2

letter from Dudley Field Malone, July 1918 -- page 3     letter from Dudley Field Malone, July 1918 -- page 4

Jonathan Mitchell

In this letter from February 6, 1928 (a year before her divorce to Malone was finalized), Mitchell shows his immense love and pride for Stevens’s accomplishments as an international women’s rights advocate:
“I know what a speech it will be. I know the stuff that’s in you. You’ll bring tears and make hearts pound against the ribs, and make people cheer and yell in storms of emotions. Tomorrow night every girl in the new world will have reason to be grateful you were born and lived. Nothing as exciting as this I guess has ever happened in my life. Nothing except knowing and loving you, and this is a beautiful part of you.”

Letter from Jonathan Mitchell, February 1928 -- page 1     letter from Jonathan Mitchell, February 1928 -- page 2

(Nolen Family Papers)

City planner and landscape architect John Nolen met his future wife, Barbara Schatte in 1889 at a meeting of a Sunday reading group. They were engaged to be married October 1894, right around the time John wrote this letter to his future wife: “Each day makes me realize that I didn’t know half the value of the love I sought just two weeks ago to-night… I love you with my whole heart, and long for your love in return. I realize that it is right for you to have time to think it over, and I do not want to do anything to unduly influence you, but if you find that your heart is mine, I will be the happiest man in the world.”

Letter from John Nolen, October 1894 -- page 1     letter from John Nolen, October 1894 -- page 2

letter from John Nolen, October 1894 -- page 3     letter from John Nolen, October 1894 -- page 4

(Louise Walker McCannel Papers)

Louise Walker, whose grandfather’s art collection started the well-known Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was a student at Smith College when she started a correspondence with John Savage, a friend of her brother. The two exchanged letters, sometimes daily, from 1935-1938. Savage hoped to marry Louise, but she had reservations that being someone’s wife would constrict her freedom and ruin what love remained.

In this letter dated February 11, 1938, Savage writes to Louise knowing she will receive his letter on Valentine’s Day. Although reserved in his prose, he proves he still wants a relationship, despite her obvious hesitations:
“For the time being, won’t you be my Valentine (F&W* says this means sweetheart).

Letter from John C. Savage, February 1938 -- page 1     Letter from John C. Savage, February 1939 -- page 2

* Funk & Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedia

From China to Radcliffe and Return


Cover image of "Food Plants of China" Dr. Shiu-Ying Hu was born in 1910 to a farm family in a village that carried the name of the Hu clan. Interviewed in the Chinese American Women Oral History Project, she said of her botany studies at Lingnan University, “Everything I learned in the village was just ordinary life. Now it’s all science.” As a graduate student and herbarium assistant at the University, she saw many specimens labeled “determined by E.D. Merrill,” and knowing nothing else, decided that she had to study with him. She was already an associate professor in China in 1946 when chance brought her to Radcliffe College to study for her Ph.D., which she received in 1949. Merrill, director of the Arnold Arboretum from 1935 to 1946, lived on the Arboretum grounds. Dr. Hu studied with him and worked at the Herbarium and Arboretum. After her retirement in 1976 she continued to contribute many working hours. Through the years, she took trips to China to collect and to teach. In her lifetime she is known to have collected over 185,000 Chinese plant specimens. One day she met the composer/conductor John Williams walking in the Arboretum and introduced him to a large tree whose seeds she had planted. In 2000 he wrote Tree Song for Violin and Orchestra.The first section is “Dr. Hu and the Meta-Sequoia.” Dr. Hu lives in China, where the Harvard Club of Hong Kong honored her in 2010 on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

Colored Wo-Men’s Cookbook


Carme Ruscalleda, 5-star Michelin Chef, visits Schlesinger Library


Schlesinger Library had a visit from Carme Ruscalleda, owner/founder/chef of the eponymous restaurant Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar, Catalonia, Spain, and of Sant Pau Tokyo. Ruscalleda and head chef Jérôme Quilbeuf, who are at Harvard to lecture on caramelization in Harvard’s Science and Cooking course (http://seas.harvard.edu/cooking), came to get acquainted with Schlesinger’s rich historical resources on food. Ruscalleda is the only woman chef in the world to have earned 5 Michelin stars: 3 for the original Sant Pau and 2 for her Tokyo restaurant. She presented a signed copy of her book on the history of the restaurant, CR20: 20 Years of the Sant Pau, issued on the occasion of the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, to Curator of Books and Printed Materials Marylène Altieri. Three other chef/instructors from the Science and Cooking course have also toured the library and donated their books: Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Barcelona), Sous-vide cuisine; Ramon Morató, (Aula Chocovic, Gurb, Catalonia) Chocolate; and Carles Tejedor (Via Veneto, Barcelona), Via Veneto.

Photo by Jérôme Quilbeuf, with his permission.

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