All posts by Kate Collins

The Good, The Bad, and The Just Plain Weird

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.

Have you ever come across a piece of advice that just makes you stop, blink, and shake your head? While I was searching for a recipe for my Test Kitchen post, I came across one such piece of advice and knew I had to write about it. In the 1836 edition of The American Frugal Housewife, Lydia Maria Child wrote that “New England rum, constantly used to wash the hair, keeps it very clean, and free from disease, and promotes its growth.”

Title page of book. The paper is slightly yellowed. It reads "The American Frugal Housewife, dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. By Mrs. Child, author of "Hobomok," "The Mother's Book," editor of the "Juvenile Miscellany," &c. A fat kitchen maketh a lean will -- Franklin. "Economy is a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin." Sixteenth Edition, enlarged and corrected by the author. Boston: Russell, Shattuck, & Co. 1836.
Title page of Lydia Maria Child’s “The American Frugal Housewife”
Photograph of paragraph of text describing washing hair with rum. "New England rum, constantly used to wash the hair, keeps it very clean, and free from disease, and promotes its growth a great deal more than Macassar oil. Brandy is very strengthening to the roots of the hair; but it has a hot, drying tendency, which N.E. rum has not.
Child’s advice to wash hair with New England rum in “The American Frugal Housewife”

I have to admit that I’ve never considered using rum to wash my hair! The smell alone would be overpowering. Prescriptive literature from the nineteenth century is filled with all kinds of advice for women—from keeping a home and raising children to cooking, healing, and beauty. Some of this advice is good, like Child’s tip to thoroughly clean your teeth after eating your last meal at night. On the other hand, some of the advice is bad. Still other kinds of advice—like washing your hair with New England rum—are just weird.

My fellow intern and I joked that we should do a beauty advice post similar to the Test Kitchen posts, but neither of us were willing to be the test subjects—despite plenty of material to choose from! It was tempting to try the recipe for Cologne Water in The New England Economical Housekeeper that called for rosemary oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, cinnamon oil, and rose water, just to see what it would smell like. Though the author of The American Family Keepsake assured readers that a recipe for Turkish Rouge “is a superior rouge; […] will not rub off, and is in no ways injurious to the face,” it was less tempting to try this recipe, which called for alkanet chips to be suspended in alcohol until it reached the right color.

Photograph of title page for "The New England Economical Housekeeper." Paper is yellowed with some darker spots. The text reads: The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book. By Mrs. E.A. Howland. Stereotype Edition. Worcester: Published by S.A. Howland. 1847.
Title page for “The New England Economical Housekeeper.”
Photograph of two paragraphs of text describing how to make Cologne Water. The text reads "Take two drachms of oil of rosemary, two of the oil of lemon, one of lavender, ten of cinnamon, one tea-spoonful of rose-water. Pour on these one quart of alcohol; put all in a glass bottle, and shake it up well; to have it very clear, put some cotton in a tunnel, and place a piece of clean tissue or printing paper over it, and strain the contents through it. Another way. - One pint alcohol, sixty drops lavender, sixty of bergamot, sixty of essence of lemon, sixty of orange-water. To be corked up, and well shaken. It is better for considerable age.
Recipe for Cologne Water from “The New England Economical Housekeeper”

After reading through Child’s advice while searching for a recipe, I decided to look at other prescriptive literature from the nineteenth century and look at the different kinds of advice that women were given that shaped their lives, even though it didn’t always match reality. Different types of etiquette guides and domestic arts manuals have been around for centuries and are all examples of prescriptive literature. The Rubenstein’s guide to prescriptive literature includes material from 1631 to 2001 and highlights the changing focus of this literature.

A lot of the advice aimed at married women centered around being a good mother, wife, and hostess—and doing so economically while keeping up appearances. Child’s The American Frugal Housewife, The New England Economical Housekeeper, The Frugal Housewife, and The Female Economist are all good examples of this type of prescriptive literature. Instructions for being frugal were usually accompanied with tips for treating illnesses, raising children, and taking care of the household. Like a lot of advice manuals today, a lot of this advice presented a picture of an ideal woman that was a good housewife, a mother who trained her children well, a good cook, and an excellent hostess. For example, in Mrs. William Parkes’s Domestic Duties; Instructions to young married ladies, she informed her readers that “To possess the skill of a connoisseur in deciding upon the various flavours of wines, their strength and body, is not desirable for a female.” Obviously, knowledge of wine was only suitable as a male area of expertise.

Photograph of engraved image in book showing two women working in a nineteenth century kitchen
Frontispiece of The New England Economical Housekeeper.

Alright. Let’s get down to the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of all of this advice. I’ll try to resist the temptation to just list all of the weird advice for the shock value alone and stick to one or two examples of each—though it’s a difficult task!

The Good:

Child’s American Frugal Housewife was filled with good advice for women who wanted (or needed) to run a household on a budget. For example, she had two instructions for women to save money on paper “Preserve the backs of old letters to write upon” and “buy coarse white paper by the quantity” to make books for children learning to write. Mrs. Smith’s The Female Economist also contains advice for cleaning teeth; she provides instructions for creating a tooth powder: “Beat fine and sift two ounces of charcoal; mix with it one ounce of powder of bark.” Although this seems weird, given the charcoal toothpaste I’ve seen in stores and advertised online lately it’s not necessarily the worst advice.

The Bad:

Now for the bad advice. Mrs. Smith’s The Female Economist has a recipe for a healing ointment: an “Ointment of Lead.” Yes, you read that right. Mrs. Smith says to “Take of olive-oil half a pint; white wax, two ounces; sugar of lead, three drachms. Let the sugar of lead (reduced into a fine powder) be rubbed up with some part of the oil, and afterwards added to the other ingredients, previously melted together; stir them continually till quite cold.” She continued, “This cooling and gently astringent ointment may be used in all cases where the intention is to dry and skin over the wound, as in scalding, &c.” Mrs. Smith also had a recipe for “Eye-Water” to bathe the eyes in that called for sugar of lead. Unless you want to end up like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, this is definitely not advice you want to follow—especially for use on an open wound!

The Just Plain Weird:

And now for the advice that is just plain weird. Two of the books I looked at had similar remedies for a sore throat. Child’s advice was to bind a stocking on “warm from the foot, at night” while Mrs. Smith said to “Wear a worsted stocking round the throat all night which has been worn on the leg during the day.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to try this sore throat remedy.

Rum wasn’t the only alcohol that was suggested for washing hair. Mrs. L.G. Abell’s The Skillful Housewife’s Book suggested wetting the hair “in brandy occasionally to strengthen the roots.” Actually, alcohol is a common ingredient in advice that seems weird to modern eyes. Mrs. Abell also suggested using brandy instead of water when making ink to prevent the ink from freezing.

While it’s tempting to keep going, I’ll stop here with just a sampling of the advice in nineteenth-century prescriptive literature. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop! Come in and take a look at some of the prescriptive literature in our collections—we’d love to have you! And of course, you can always take a look at some of the fully digitized versions of these books available online through HathiTrust.

Apple Pie and Raspberry Shrub (1836) — Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.

When I started as the Research Services intern, I knew that I wanted to do a blogpost for the Rubenstein Test Kitchen. But, where to begin? I spent some time exploring our collections and reading over the previous Test Kitchen blog posts as I thought about what I should make. Finally, I decided that since I’m a nineteenth-century historian, I would make a dish from that era, with a drink to go along with it.

After some initial exploration (relying on Ashley Young’s Guide to Food History at the Rubenstein), I settled on using Lydia Maria Child’s 1836 The American Frugal Housewife. The book was part of a genre of prescriptive literature that gave women advice for fulfilling their domestic duties. Child emphasized how to be a good wife, mother, and hostess while maintaining a frugal lifestyle. Many of the tips and recipes included a reference to it being “good economy” to use specific ingredients over others or to use substitutes for things like coffee. (Though, Child pointed out that in the case of coffee, “the best economy is to go without” which is definitely not an option for this graduate student!)

After looking through the recipes, I decided to make a dessert that I could share with my coworkers at the Rubenstein. I found some mouth-watering options, including an apple pie that sounded delightful. Like most recipes from the nineteenth-century, this one was a bit short on details, both for the filling and the pie crust, but the ingredients were simple.

Image showing ingredients used for apple pie: a bag of flour, a bag of sugar, a carton of butter, a jar of cinnamon, a lemon, and five apples

The Filling

photograph of first page of text for apple pie photograph of second page of text for directions for making apple pie

First, I made the filling, which could be easily set aside while I made the pie crust. But, Child didn’t specify how many apples, so I looked at a few other apple pie recipes before deciding to use five apples. I first peeled and sliced all of the apples before putting them all in a pan with about a tablespoon of water. The recipe calls for sugar to taste and says that cloves and cinnamon are good spices for the filling. Since I love cinnamon apples—and already had cinnamon at home—I decided to use cinnamon instead of cloves. I stewed the apples to get them tender, being sure to follow Child’s instructions to stew them “very little indeed,” tasting and adding more sugar and cinnamon as I went to get the flavor right. Child also said “If your apples lack spirit, grate in a whole lemon.” I thought the apples were a bit sweet, so I grated in a bit of lemon zest (thought not a whole lemon!).

photograph showing thinly sliced apples in a pot on a stove top

The Pie Crust

photograph of text of book show recipe for pie crust

The recipe for pie crust was also short on specifics, so I looked up other recipes to determine how much flour I should use. I used 2 cups of flour and about 1.5 sticks of butter for the bottom crust and the same for the top. I set aside a half cup of flour and about ¼ stick of butter to use for rolling out the crust like Child instructed. Since I was (attempting) to stay true to the 19th century recipe, I rubbed the rest of the butter into the flour with my hands, until “a handful of it, clasped tight […] remain[ed] in a ball, without any tendency to fall in pieces.” This was harder than I expected and took more time than I had planned. Once the dough stayed clasped in a ball, I wet it with cold water, rolled it out on a floured surface, put small pieces of butter all over it, floured it, rolled it back up, and repeated this process three times. I did the same thing for the top crust, which was a bit easier. After putting the crust in the pie pan, I poured in the apple filling. I then cut strips of the crust to lay over the top of the pie.

two photographs: the first of stewed apples in a pie crus, the second of a completed unbaked pie with a lattice work top

I put the pie in the oven for 40 minutes, checked it, and then put it back in for another 10 minutes until the crust turned golden.

Raspberry Shrub

Though according to Child “Beer is a good family drink,” I decided to go with a non-alcoholic drink option and try a raspberry shrub to go with my apple pie.

photograph of ingredients for raspberry shrub on kitchen counter: a bag of sugar, a bottle of white wine vinegar, and a carton of red raspberries

Child promised that raspberry shrub is “a pure, delicious drink for summer,” and since it looks like summer has officially arrived here in Durham, I thought it would be the perfect addition to my historical recipe experiment.

I used 12 ounces of fresh raspberries and white wine vinegar. After washing the raspberries, I put them in a pot, covered them with vinegar, and brought them to a boil before letting them simmer over medium-high heat until the berries were soft—a bit less than 10 minutes. I then strained the mixture into a glass measuring cup to get out the seeds and pulp of the berries and make measuring easier.

two photographs: the first of fresh raspberries in a saucepan on a stove top, the second of cooked raspberries in the saucepan being poured through a strainer into a glass measuring cup.

After straining the mixture, I ended up with a little over 1.25 cups of juice, which I poured back into the pot. The recipe called for equal amounts of sugar and juice, so I also added 1.25 cups of sugar. I brought the mixture barely to a boil before taking it off the eye, skimming the foam off the top, and letting it cool. Once it cooled, I poured the juice into a mason jar to store it.

photograph of raspberry shrub in a glass mason jar. the liquid in the jar is a dark red.

Child said to mix raspberry shrub with water for a “pure, delicious drink,” so I added 4 tablespoons of the juice to a glass of water. Then, since I love mint with raspberry, I added a sprig of fresh mint as a garnish.

photograph of completed shrub drink in a glass with ice. The drink is pink, and there is a mint sprig as a garnish.

The Verdict

The apple pie filling was absolutely delicious. The pie crust, though, didn’t turn out very well, even though it looked beautiful. Despite all of the butter, it was dry and tasted like chalky flour with butter, and it was a bit too thick. I might try an apple pie again, but I would definitely find a different recipe for the crust. (I was nice and didn’t inflict this crust on my co-workers here at the Rubenstein!)

The raspberry shrub was a success! Light, refreshing, and sweet—perfect for summer, just like Child said. I’ll definitely be making it again, though I’ll likely let the juice and sugar mixture simmer for a little longer next time, since there was a very slight taste of vinegar to it still.

Emma Goldman Papers – Newly Available

Post contributed by Mary Kallem, field experience student in the Bingham Center and master’s student at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science.

A white woman, Emma Goldman, is phtographed from the waist up, leaning against the back of a chair. She is wearing pince-nez glasses and looking away from the camera to the right.Few anarchists have gained as much mainstream recognition as Emma Goldman, an iconic figure in labor organizing, feminist history, and prison abolition. The Bingham Center acquired a sizable collection of Goldman’s papers as part of the larger Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a transformative collection documenting the history of women at work.

Dating from 1909 to 1940, the Emma Goldman Papers reflect radical community labor amidst state repression, the financial instability of writers and activists, and a tumultuous political landscape. Goldman’s prescience remains apparent today.

These papers illuminate a historical understanding that reaches beyond her as an individual. In addition to providing an intimate picture of her financial, political, and social lives, this collection also reveals the relational network that  constituted anarchist organizing and publishing of her time.

Letter from Goldman to unnamed comrade, 1909. Click for full letter

With over 300 letters, the collection includes both the revolutionary and quotidian aspects of the relationships between Goldman and her comrades, including Alexander “Sascha” Berkman, Eugene Debs, Alexander Schapiro, and Thomas Keell. The collection also features published material, handwritten articles from Errico Malatesta and Emma Goldman, photographs, ephemera, and more.

This collection of Goldman papers has been in the hands of a private collector until recently, and it is now being opened to the public for the first time. The day-to-day correspondence may be the most striking element of the collection, given its familiar nature: whether asking to borrow money, lamenting poor book sales, or mutually gathering hope, these letters reflect struggle. For those who continue to fight for social change, there is a solidarity to be found in these shared material and emotional conditions.

The Emma Goldman Papers are available for on-site use in Rubenstein’s reading room and online within the Duke Libraries’ Digital Collections.

Ticket to lecture by Goldman, 1933.

Workshop – Books as Social Networks: Documenting the Role of Individuals in the Production and Consumption of Print Culture

Date: Friday, May 11, 2018
Time: 1:00pm – 3:30pm
Location: Rubenstein Library 150
Registration

Using rare books from the Rubenstein Library, this hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the discipline of Book History and explore methodologies for studying books as artifacts. We will explore evidence of the individuals involved in the production, distribution, and consumption of books in the West, including authors, printers, illustrators, booksellers, and readers, from the 15th to the 20th century. Using this evidence, we’ll consider what the roles of these individuals and the relationships between them can tell us about print culture in their time

The workshop will include a discussion of the kinds of evidence and strategies for investigation, followed by lab session devoted to the investigation of individual artifacts in the Rubenstein collection.

April 17: Ask an Archivist Q&A Panel

Black and white photograph of two people in a room filled with shelves of files. The man, standing, is hold open a file filled with peppers, he has a cartoon speech bubble and asks "What's a Diary, Mattie?". The woman, seated also has a cartoon speech bubble which reads "Like an old-fashioned blog, Jay."Date: April 17, 2018
Time: 11am – 12pm
Location: Rubenstein Library 150
Register now

Need tips on getting started with archival research? Curious how archives acquire collections? Thinking about archives as a career? Or just want to know what’s up with the white gloves? Bring your questions to a panel discussion with three archivists from the Rubenstein Library.

Participants:

  • John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture
  • Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian, Rubenstein Library
  • Tracy Jackson, Head, Center Manuscript Processing, Rubenstein Library

Moderated by Mandy Cooper, PhD Candidate, Duke University Department of History and Rubenstein Library Research Services Graduate Intern

Midwifing the Rise of Consumerism in Post-War France

Post contributed by Claire Payton, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History intern and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History

At the end of World War II, the meaning of family changed in profound ways. In Europe and North America, young couples set about starting new families. Their enthusiasm for procreation generated the demographic explosion known as the “baby boom.” Those who could afford it filled their homes with refrigerators, television sets, and baby toys, midwifing another major post-war transformation: the rise of consumerism.

Riding these twin dynamics, an upstart Parisian advertising firm was able to build up a small French company into a famous international brand. Publicis was a small ad firm founded in 1926 by Marcel Blustein-Blanchet, the son of Jewish immigrants. Blustein-Blanchet managed to flee when the Nazis occupied France in 1940. Publicis was shuttered and the office and equipment were seized by the government. But when the war ended he returned and, in 1946, reopened Publicis. One of the first new clients he signed while rebuilding from scratch was a small new company that specialized in maternity clothes called Prénatal.

Founded by Jean-Maire Mazart in 1947, Prénatal seized upon the social transformations of the era. With the help of Publicis, the company targeted young pregnant women who were looking to overcome the war through the power of consumerism. Mazart’s idea, inspired by the United States, was to provide women with high-end clothes in different sizes depending on how far along they were in their pregnancy. The idea was an immediate hit in France, and Prénatal expanded quickly. It diversified its products to include baby items so that loyal clients could continue to have things to buy things even after pregnancy was over and motherhood began. Within two decades, there were two hundred Prénatal storefronts in France, with more around Europe and overseas.

One of the ways Publicis drummed up excitement for its clients was to design large displays at major marketing events. These photos show its Prénatal installation at a 1950s Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) which was held in the luminous Parisian marketplace, Les Halles. The photos are part of a new acquisition at the Hartman Center, a Collection of French Advertising Display Binders that feature photos of Publicis advertisements, installations, and displays from the 1950s. The Publicis-Prénatal strategy is evident in the slogan painted on the walls: “Tout pour la future maman…Tout pour le nouveau ne” (Everything for the mom-to-be…Everything for the newborn). The design of the Prénatal display showcased the message that ideal mid-century motherhood–glamorous, clean, elegant–was available with the signing of a check.

By the late 1960s, the message pedaled by Prénatal and Publicis had lost some of its charm. The very people who might have worn Prénatal clothes as infants grew up to challenge post-war ideas of consumerism and the heteronormative nuclear family that the company’s products celebrated. With the increasing availability of contraceptives in the late 1960s, women could aspire to more than a fashionable and well-heeled pregnancy. Mazart sold the company in 1972; it closed its last doors in 1997. More able than its client to adapt to changing cultural norms, Publicis today is one of the world’s leading multinational advertising and public relations agencies.

[Cancelled] New Workshop for Grad Students: The Law & Ethics of Using Archives

This workshop has been cancelled. We plan on offering it again in the future.

Date: Monday, March 26, 2018
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: Rubenstein Library 349
Register Here

Archives are loaded with legal questions. For almost any item created in the last 150 years, copyright, privacy and other laws play a major role in how you can reuse those materials in research. This session will cover how to understand what material is legally restricted, how to make uses by obtaining permission or exercising fair use, and how to navigate the ethics of researching when the law is unclear.

This session will be led by Dave Hansen, Duke’s Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication. Dave is a lawyer and librarian who works with Duke faculty and students to help them understand the scholarly publishing system and find ways to help them disseminate their research broadly.

This workshop will count towards Duke Graduate Students’ RCR training hours. Advanced registration is required, sign up now.

A “malicious fabrication” by a “mendacious scribbler for the ‘New York Times’”

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.

Scan of the Cover of Harper's Weekly magazine. Below the masthead is a wood engraving portrait of the Prince of Wales. He is show from the mid-thigh up, leaning against a short pillar on his right, holding a pair of gloves in his right hand.
“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales” on the cover of Harper’s Weekly, August 25, 1860. (Vol. IV, No. 191)

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe we don’t typically use the word “mendacious” (which means lying) much anymore, but this quote sounds like it could be about a current headline. It reflects an incredibly divided country in which words were a weapon used to condemn everyone and everything on the other side. This quote, though, is from December 1860 and refers to an account of a mob meeting the Prince of Wales during his visit to Richmond, Virginia. The letter was written by John Rutherfoord, a prominent political figure in Virginia, in response to his English cousin’s question about the reports he had heard that a mob met the prince in Richmond.

The report in question was an article published in the New York Times on “The Prince’s Visit to the United States. The Richmond Mob and the Irish Insult.” Despite Rutherfoord’s furious denials of the report as an outright “malicious fabrication” by a reporter for the “venomous Abolition Journal” the New York Times, the article was actually originally published in the London Times and focuses primarily on anti-Irish prejudice. The author assured his readers that most Americans were disgusted by “the Richmond mob” and had “no sympathy with the acts of Irish emigrants in New-York.” Even the author’s description of events in Richmond revolved around anti-Irish sentiment: he thought the mob could have been “stirred up by some Irish or semi-Irish demagogue.” According to the author, the “disorderly mob” pressed constantly on the prince and his party and threw insults at them. After saying that lower-class southern whites were the most “ruffianly and depraved” in America, he then painted a picture of the mob for his readers: “Fancy a mob of four or five hundred slave-dealers, horse-dealers, small planters, liquor-store keepers, and loungers, together with, probably, a large sprinkling of blackguardism from Ireland.” The rest of the article had a similar anti-Irish tone, focusing on the response to fears of a similar situation with Irish immigrants in New York City.

 

Original article in the New York Times, November 6, 1860.

 

Harper’s Weekly also published a report about the prince’s ill treatment in London in the October 20, 1860 issue. (Vol. IV, No. 199)

As you might expect, Rutherfoord was furious at the depiction of his fellow southerners, particularly since the event took place in his own city of Richmond. He informed his cousin that even though the prince’s visit was not anticipated or expected, of all cities in the U.S., the prince would have been the most welcome and hospitably entertained in Richmond. He described the last-minute preparations to honor the prince and his party during his visit: from a military escort to the best accommodations in the city. However, the prince asked for no public ceremony or reception and had already found accommodations. He informed his cousin that though there was a crowd to see the prince, “the greatest order & decorum” prevailed, and that even the press of the crowd upon him was not as great as that “by the ruder population of the larger cities in the north.”

Wood engraving of 14 men dressed in 19th century suits with long jackets. Three are seated in chairs, the others standing. The image is captioned "The Prince of Wales and Suite"
“Our Recent Visitors, The Prince of Wales and Suite – A Brady’s Gallery, New York” published in Harper’s Weekly on November 3, 1860. (Vol. IV, No. 201)

This last statement provides a clue about the real reason for Rutherfoord’s anger at the Times and their “mendacious scribbler.” He wrote this letter just over a month after Abraham Lincoln was elected president and just two days after South Carolina’s secession convention unanimously voted to secede from the United States. Not only did he call the New York Times a “venomous Abolition Journal” that constantly vilified the South, but he argued that the North’s “white slaves” were “inferior to our colored slaves in decency and good manners.” The final two-thirds of the letter focused on a second question that his cousin had asked: what he thought of Abraham Lincoln’s election.

Typed transcript of original letter from John Rutherfoord to “My dear Hawksley,” December 19, 1860, in the John Rutherfoord Papers.

Rutherfoord was a wealthy, white, slave-owning southerner. Though his brother-in-law Edward Coles had freed the enslaved people he inherited and, as governor of Illinois, had gotten abolition written into Illinois’s state constitution, Rutherfoord and the rest of his prominent Virginia family were certainly not abolitionists. He told his British cousin, that not only was Lincoln a “third rate Western Lawyer” who was a “small caliber” politician but also that Lincoln’s election was “a great national calamity” that “seriously threatens the dissolution of the American Union at no distant day” and may bring “a disastrous civil war” without a peaceful separation of states. According to Rutherfoord, the southern states were completely faultless in the situation. In fact, he placed the blame squarely on the “sectional party” of Lincoln whose policies would completely ruin the South. More than that, though, Rutherfoord placed the blame for the system of slavery with two groups: England, who introduced slavery to the American colonies, and the northern states. He argued that though Virginia and the rest of the South wanted the abolition of the international slave trade in the Constitution, northern states like Massachusetts insisted that the slave trade should continue for twenty years. He stated that during those twenty years, the northern states imported more than 100,000 slaves, which they sold to southern masters after realizing that free labor was more lucrative and suitable for their states. His description of events makes it clear that in his view any reports that stated otherwise (especially if communicated by abolitionists or other northerners) were unequivocally false.

What can we take from this rambling letter full of exaggerations, stereotypes, and misinformation? Just like the Times article was really a forum to vent anti-Irish prejudice, Rutherfoord’s letter was a place to vent his anger and frustrations with the North. It was a place to set the record straight (at least in his view) about the roots of sectional tensions in the U.S. and the role slavery played in that. While Rutherfoord tried to convince his cousin that the South was the wronged party, his justifications for sectional tensions and possible secession were all about one thing: the threat posed by Northern states (and particularly the Republican Party) to the continued existence of the system of slavery. And so we return to the opening quote: a “malicious fabrication” by a “mendacious scribbler for the ‘New York Times.’” The Times, as a “venomous Abolition Journal” could not be trusted to provide the truth. Any reports about the South were, quite simply, malicious lies.

New Acquisition about The Most Famous Reindeer of All

Post contributed by Claire Payton, John W.  Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History intern and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History

Just in time for the holiday season, the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in the David M. Rubenstein Library has acquired a copy of the 1939 booklet that introduced Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the world.

Rudolph was invented by a Robert L. May, a 35-year old copywriter, for a promotional campaign at the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago. May was inspired to pen the story of the humble, resilient, reindeer to cheer his daughter Barbara, whose mother was dying from cancer. Drawing from the “Ugly Duckling” story and his own memories of being ostracized as a child, May wrote a tale of an odd-looking deer whose unusual bright-red nose saves the day after Santa asks him to light the way on a particularly cloudy and foggy Christmas Eve. In the end, Rudolph is feted and admired by reindeer-peers who previously had bullied him. May collaborated with Denver Gillen, a colleague from Montgomery Ward’s art department, to create drawings to accompany the story. Their booklet, which first appeared in November 1939, became a hit, with nearly 2.5 million copies printed and distributed.

Production of the pamphlet ceased during WWII. Montgomery Ward resumed the marketing campaign in 1946, printing another 3.6 million copies. But in January 1947, for reasons that remain unclear, department story executives turned over copyright on the Rudolph story to May. This was a boon to the May family, which was reeling from medical bills accrued during the illness and death of May’s wife.

Luckily, the delightful story continued to enchant. In 1948, Rudolph became the hero of a short animated Christmas film. The following year, May’s brother-in-law, a songwriter named Johnny Marks, composed a jingle based on the reindeer’s adventure. The song was picked up by country-singer Gene Autry, whose version would become a smash-hit, selling more than 25 million copies worldwide. This song became the basis of a 1964 stop-motion animated film by Rankin/ Bass Productions based on Rudolph’s story.  The film became a classic holiday special that continues to air today. Rudolph not only saved Christmas, he also saved the May family from bankruptcy.

This unassuming 78-year-old booklet introduced an unlikely hero who transformed the life of an Illinois family and the culture of Christmas around the world.

Frankfurter Kranz: A Frankly Extravagant Cake (1969) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Post contributed by Brooke Guthrie, Research Services Coordinator

For my last Test Kitchen post , I attempted a Mexican-Italian fusion recipe from the 1940s. That mostly worked out (destroyed spatula notwithstanding) so I decided to continue with the international cooking theme. Luckily, the Rubenstein Library is a very worldly place. The library has 27 cookbooks  published by Time-Life Books as part of their Foods of the World  series in the 1960s and 1970s. These heavily illustrated books combine cooking instructions with travelogues and food histories. The books usually cover each region of a country and describe how to properly throw a party there.

Our Foods of the World holdings include cookbooks covering the foods of the great American West, Africa, France, the Middle East, China, and the British Isles. With so many choices, making a recipe decision was tough. I briefly considered a kulebiaka (a flaky cabbage loaf from Russia) which is, apparently, considered a “food of the people.” The Russian cookbook also contained a decent amount of beet-based recipes that were pretty hard to pass up. The cuisine of nearby Scandinavia (also lots of beets) piqued my interest. It involved a lot of pickled things, dishes served with a side of raw eggs, and much of it was described as “food for a man’s appetite.” Could I even handle that? I wasn’t sure.

Ultimately, I decided to tackle the food of the German people. I don’t really know much about German cuisine. I know that sausages and beer are important, but I assume they eat other things from time to time.

Three images of food: sauerkraut served in a pineapple, German sausages, and a cake

Despite the appealing pictures of meat and sauerkraut artfully served in a pineapple, a hearty German cake called a “Frankfurter Kranz” seemed like the way to go. This cake is described as a layer cake with butter-cream filling and a praline-topping. The cookbook goes on to say that this cake “is a frankly extravagant cake” and “it is a special treat served only on the most elegant occasions.”

Continue reading Frankfurter Kranz: A Frankly Extravagant Cake (1969) — Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen