University of Delaware Library - Special Collections Department
Defining Her Life: Advice Books for Women

Cooking & Gardening


Manuscript recipe book of Mary Baker, circa 1720.

A great deal of care went into the making of this book which may have been a birthday or wedding gift. All of the recipes are written in a decorative script, the title page has colored decorations, and the book contains an alphabetical index of both food and medical recipes. Mary Baker was given not only information that she would need as a housewife, but also a treasure to be handed down to her own daughters. In this way, advice would be transmitted to future generations.

Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs Collection.


Amelia Simmons.
American Cookery;… adapted to this country, and all grades of life. Hartford: Hudson & Goodwin, 1796.

American Cookery was the first cookbook written by an American and published in the United States. Amelia Simmons worked as a domestic and gathered her cookery expertise from first-hand experience. She introduced recipes that adapted traditional dishes by substituting native American ingredients such as corn meal and squash. Simmons' "Pompkin Pudding," baked in a crust, is the basis for the classic American pumpkin pie.

Gift of Mrs. Thomas M. Scruggs & Margaret Cook.


Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, 1745-1828.
A New System of Domestic Cookery: Formed upon Principles of Economy, and Adapted to the Use of Private Families. Exeter [N.H.]: Printed by Norris & Sawyer, 1808.

A New System of Domestic Cookery was first published in London in 1806 and in Boston in 1807. This very popular work includes both recipes and household management. Rundell states:

The Mistress of a family should always remember that the welfare and good management of thehouse depends on the eye of the superior and consequently that nothing is too trifling for her notice, whereby waste may be avoided; and this attention is of more importance now that the price of every necessary of life is increased to an enormous degree.


William Andrus Alcott, 1798-1859.
The Young House-keeper, or Thoughts on Food and Cookery. Boston: Charles D. Strong, 1851.

William Alcott, a Connecticut schoolmaster, wrote many advice books. The author describes the book as "a work on Physical Education… It is intended as a means of rendering house-keepers thinking beings, and not as they have hitherto often been, mere pieces of mechanism; or, what is little better, the mere creatures of habit or slaves of custom." Alcott advocates a plain style of cooking using whole grains and warns against fried foods and overeating.


Food receipt book of Sarah K. Fotterall.

This small handwritten recipe book was kept by a woman who lived in Pennsylvania or New York in the 1860s. It includes food and drink recipes and herbal treatments. Also listed are compounds for killing flies, cleaning silk, and preventing hair loss. These types of recipes are traditionally handed down from mother to daughter and shared among neighbors.

Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs Collection.


Mary Jewry.
Warne's Every-day Cookery: Containing One Thousand Nine Hundred Receipts and Other Valuable Instructions. London: F. Warne, 1891.

Every-day Cookery was written for an audience of moderate means. The author explains that "instructions are given in very full detail for the convenience of inexperienced housekeepers and cooks."


Cooking by Gas. London: New York: Cassell, 1910.

By 1910, gas ranges had become popular in middle-class households. Cooks needed to learn how to regulate the gas and alter recipes. Cooking by Gas includes many familiar recipes rewritten for gas cooking.


Susie Root Rhodes.
The Economy Administration Cook Book. New York; London: Syndicate Pub. Co., 1913.

The Economy Administration Cook Book is a collection of recipes from the family of President Woodrow Wilson and other prominent women. The recipes are accompanied by short biographies of the woman who submitted them. The women include wives and daughters of government officials, clubwomen, as well as some identified as homemakers.


Gardening

Charles Evelyn.
The Lady's Recreation, or, The Art of Gardening Farther Improv'd. London: Printed for E. Curll, 1719.

The Lady's Recreation focuses on flower gardening for English country estates. The lovely frontispiece was engraved by Elisha Kirkall (fl 1720-1740), an important English printmaker.


John French Burke.
Farming for Ladies; Or, a Guide to the Poultry-yard, the Dairy and Piggery. London: John Murray, 1844.

Burke offers both general and specific information on purchasing, raising, and breeding birds and animals. He wrote the book for "ladies in the middle ranks of life who are interested in farming for pleasure or profit." Raising their own animals would benefit both the health and economy of the family.


Mrs. S. O. Johnson.
Every Woman her own Flower Gardener. New York: Henry T. Williams, 1871.

Every Woman her own Flower Gardener is a manual for identifying and cultivating common garden flowers. Johnson wrote with a moral purpose, saying that "American women live in-doors too much, and thus sacrifice their health and spirits. They cultivate neuralgia, dyspepsia, and all their attendant ills-rather than the beautiful and glorious flowers which God has scattered so abundantly all over the world."


Mrs. (Jane) Loudon, 1807-1858.
Gardening for Ladies; and Companion to the Flower Garden. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1843.

Jane Loudon readily acknowledged that she knew little about gardening before she met her husband, John, a well-known nineteenth-century landscape gardener and horticultural writer. She claimed that reading books on the subject was useless because they were too technical. Loudon wrote Gardening for Ladies in simple, clear language, presenting sensible and original ideas on how to grow flowers and demonstrating that gardening was a fitting avocation for ladies. Her book included personal sketches and stories-a casual approach that appealed to the public.


Harriet Martineau, 1802-1876.
Our Farm of Two Acres. New York: Bunce and Huntington, 1865.

Harriet Martineau was a journalist and writer whose subjects ranged from religion to political economy to abolition. She was especially concerned about the treatment of women and argued for an improvement in women's education, so that "marriage need not be their only object in life." Marineau spent eleven years on a miniature farm before writing this article which was aimed at women on small incomes. She believed that women could provide food for themselves as well as benefit physically, mentally, and spiritually.


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