Fondly, Pennsylvania is a joint blog of HSP's archives, conservation, and digitization departments. Here you will find posts on our latest projects and newest discoveries, as well as how we care for, describe, and preserve our collections. Whether you are doing research or just curious to know more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at HSP, please read, explore, and join the conversation!
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:
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!
In 1903, political cartoonists – especially one man, Charles Nelan – made the governor of Pennsylvania so mad that he criminalized cartooning.
You read that right. Gov. Samuel Pennypacker and his allies pushed through a law that made it illegal in Pennsylvania to publish or even draw cartoons that portrayed people (i.e. politicians) as "beast, bird, fish, insect, or other inhuman animal." Who knew that cartoons could inspire such passion, such outrage, such . . . legislative willpower?!
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!
Hello all! Thanks for coming back to our blog for more transcriptions from the George F. Parry Civil War diaries (George F. Parry family volumes, Collection 3694). If you're just joining us, in 2012 HSP acquired the diaries of Bucks County resident and Civil War veterinary surgeon George F. Parry. In that collection are three diaries he kept during the Civil War dating from 1863 to 1865, when he served with the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
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!
My task as a volunteer in digital collections is to add metadata to images posted in “Questions of the Week.” As a historian by training, my metadata interests lean toward the descriptive. What was the purpose of this photograph showing the Honorable Raymond Pace Alexander (1898-1974) and his wife Dr. Sadie Tanner Mosell Alexander (1898-1989), flanking business and civic leader Albert M. Greenfield (1887-1967)? While I could not identify the event, I did uncover what was probably one of the earliest associations of Alexander and Greenfield.
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.