Sarah Duda

HSP- Bibliographic Specialist and Administrative Assistant

Since graduating from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in History in June 2014, I have found a family in Philadelphia's vibrant historic community while working at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

As you can tell from my blog series "A Philly Foodie Explores Local History," I have an intense interest in food, much of which comes from my family's background in agriculture and a personal love of cooking and good eats. At Swarthmore, I explored my overlapping interests in agriculture, food, and history through a Senior Research Project about Pennsylvania county fairs at the turn of the 20th century.

Like my series on the "Fondly, Pennsylvania" blog? Post your comments directly on my articles or email them to me at

This Author's Posts

This is the eighth and final blog in A Philly Foodie Explores Local History-- a journey in food history that has led me to cook from Martha Washington’s original cookbook, connect with Philadelphia’s historic Italian Market, and dedicate an entire blog to Pennsylvania peaches.  It only seems fitting to end this blog series by visiting Reading Terminal Market, a popular foodie destination in the city today whose history reflects massive changes in American food production and distribution throughout the 20th century.  At the 1931 formal opening of The Food Show and Home Progress Exposition at Reading Terminal, president of Reading Company Agnew T. Dice spoke about the role railroads and modern technology played in reshaping the American dinner table at the time.  A copy of this speech along with an incredible collection of 1940s photographs have made their way into archives at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and provide a lively view of the market’s past.  After peering into the history of Reading Terminal Market below and in the photo album to the right, you might be inspired to visit the market in person!  If that is the case, you will be happy to find two end-of-summer dishes at the end of this blog whose ingredients can be found entirely at Reading Terminal!


As you might expect, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a large collection of materials related to the founding father of Pennsylvania, William Penn.  Much to my delight, many recipes of Penn’s first wife Gulielma Maria Penn have been preserved in The Penn Family Papers, an impressively large collection of personal written materials by William Penn and various family members.  The cooking recipes were collected into a 4-part manuscript totaling more then 150 pages towards the end of the 17th century at the request of Gulielma and Penn’s son William.  You can see in the images below that the original recipes are very difficult to read, which is largely due to the rushed manner in which they were transcribed and their use of 17th century spelling and words that are obsolete today.  Luckily, HSP has an excellent transcription of the cookbook by Evelyn Abraham Benson that came in very handy in clarifying the cooking instructions and explaining the book’s origins.  This week, I tested out two excellent recipes for “A Tart of Spinage” and “Fregasy of Chicken” which would like to share with you below:

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Ever since I heard that my family’s farm had begun selling Chambersburg peaches a few weeks ago, I have been craving summer peaches like crazy!  Many hot summer days working Pittsburgh-area Duda farmstands as a college student were greatly improved by easy access to these peaches.   I’ll admit that more then a few customers caught me with juice rolling down to my elbows when daily business had slowed down— and I will add that my uncles are smiling at my confession now since they know this is advertising at its finest!  When I came across a 1910 Franklin County Charity Benefit Cookbook to raise money for the Chambersburg Hospital, Children’s Aid Society of Franklin County, and local home for the elderly, I immediately thought of Chambersburg peaches!  This historic cookbook’s recipe for peach ice cream ended up pulling me into Pennsylvania peach history where I was not only impressed with the economic significance of the fruit detailed in two agricultural extension bulletins from 1896 and 1913, but also discovered it's ties to the Civil War."  Dip into a brief history of Pennsylvania peaches below and in the additional images in the photo album to the right!


The closest I have come to knowing my great-grandmother is through my mother’s stories of sitting in Grandma Mary’s hot kitchen as a child while her homemade apple dumplings and sticky buns baked in the oven.  A story about Grandma Mary is not complete without mentioning that her made-from-scratch sticky buns and apple dumplings were out-of-this-world.  Since my great-grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch, I was very excited to come across Leonard S. Davidow’s 1930s book Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook of Fine Old Recipes at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  While I enjoyed bringing the book to life by testing out its recipes for “Eb’l (Apple) Dumplings” and "The Famous Dutch Sticky Buns,” the cookbook turned out to be lively on its own, complete with poetry, cartoons, and a unique sense of humor interspersed among the pages of recipes.  Watch this historical cookbook come alive as I connect with my own Pennsylvania Dutch culinary roots below and view additional pictures of in the photo album to the right!

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As this blog series, A Philly Foodie Explores Local History, approaches the halfway point in its two-month journey in food history, I think it's about time that we visit one of Philadelphia’s best-known historic food landmarks-- the 9th Street Italian Market!  With early beginnings in the 1880s when Italian immigrants began to settle in a neighborhood South of the original city center, the Philadelphia Italian Market is a collection of specialty food shops and outdoor vendors concentrated around 9th and Christian Streets.  Inspired by historic photographs and local family recipes in our archives here at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, I decided to connect with this historic Philly foodie neighborhood by shopping for fresh ingredients at the Italian Market and cooking a dish from Celeste Morello’s The Philadelphia Italian Market Cookbook: The Tastes of South 9th Street.  Experience the market with me as you read about my multi-layered culinary adventure below and view additional pictures in the photo album to the right!

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As we were preparing for the HSP Martha Washington Potluck a few weeks ago, Director of Conservation Tara O’Brien and I were brainstorming about what cookware items would have commonly existed in early American kitchens.  When one of our reference librarians, Ron Medford, overheard our conversation, he mentioned that he knew of some old cookware catalogs... in box TQ.40.  Intrigued by Ron’s coincidental knowledge of some forgotten material that might answer our questions, Tara and I immediately went on a hunt for it in our archives.  What we found in mysterious box TQ.40 was a collection hardware, home furnishing, and cookware catalogs and magazines that would make any historian smile because some bit of social and cultural history is waiting to be unpacked on nearly every page.  I am extremely excited to share three items with you: an 1882 merchant catalog from the Lancaster homegoods company Steinman & Co as well as an 1882 magazine and 1977 catalog from the Philadelphia department store Strawbridge & Clothier.  While these catalogs and magazines don't exactly lay out an entire history of American cookware in their pages, an examination of their representations of cookware and cooking reveal historic differences in advertising that stand in stark contrast to modern ads today.  Please reference the photo album in the top right hand corner of this blog post as you read!


As you can see from the U.S. Food administration poster from World War I above, the idea of restricting sugar is far from being a new phenomenon.  From wartime rationing campaigns, to anti-slavery economic movements, to modern health anxiety, sugar has been the target of political and social concern throughout U.S.

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Always looking for relevant and interesting ways to connect with the items in our collections, staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania recently cooked our way into the historic kitchen of America's inaugural First Lady.  While few people are able to say that they’ve met the First Lady and even fewer can boast of sampling her cooking first-hand, HSP has unique access to a presidential pantry through Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, which has been in our collections since 1892.  

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The City of the Cheesesteak, Philly history is found in the kitchen. Visitors Services Manager Sarah Duda gets to the meat of the matter, serving up stories from the hidden larder of Philly's unsung hash slingers. Food-related treasures in HSP's library and archive are cooked regularly on the Fondly, PA<