Notes on collections at the RIHS
Each week I try to sit down and plan the weekly meals, otherwise I end up eating toast! Every once in a while I pull out my family cookbooks and recipes, some passed down for generations, in order to revisit a meal or two. This made me think of the recipe books and housekeeping diaries in the collections here at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
Many recipe books contain a mix of handwritten recipes and newspaper clippings tucked inside or pasted to pages, such as this recipe book which belonged to Helen F. Washburn. Helen Frances (Abbott) was born in Providence, Rhode Island July 29, 1874. She married Maurice King Washburn in 1897 – the year before she started keeping this book.
Breads and cakes feature heavily in the collections I sifted through (pun intended), but there were also recipes for puddings, drinks, fruit desserts, and savory dishes. Gingerbread and rum cakes were particularly popular, such as these found in a recipe book from the Congdon Family Papers. The Congdon Family Papers have been microfilmed as part of the New England Women and Their Families series (HQ 1438 .R45).
The Winthrop W. and Harriet A. Aldrich Papers contain several folders with menus, recipes, and the housekeeper’s scrapbook stuffed with menu ideas. There are at least six egg nog recipes in Harriet Aldrich’s collection of recipes, I wonder if she taste tested them all!
Finally, to leave you with something to warm you up before this weekend’s impending storm:
– Michelle Chiles, Robinson Research Center Coordinator