We found a box of old books when my last living grandparent passed away that seemed to have been given to her by her mother-in-law and contained some pretty old books from even grandma’s mother-in-law’s mother (my 2x great grandmother). While there’s no indication whose writing is in the book or a name printed in the front or back, one of the pieces of paper stuck in the book certainly looks like great grandma Olga’s handwriting. My 2x great grandmother and her husband married in 1891, both immigrants from England – Alfred had come over with his adoptive parents in 1872, and Jessie had arrived in about 1890. It certainly feels like the most likely scenario, that the book belonged to Jessie and her family, given the other books in the box as well as the handwriting belonging to her only surviving daughter. The book has a copyright date of 1894, and this edition is marked on the front cover, “Compliments of the Pittsburg Press” (yes, Pittsburgh without the ‘H’ as the newspaper titled itself). The inside cover notes the book cost $1.50. I can’t be entirely sure when this particular edition was printed, but the newspaper did advertise the book in 1894, and by 1908, it was called, “The Standard Domestic Science Cook Book,” by the same author. I couldn’t find any information in the newspaper about it offering the book for sale at a discount or as a gift to subscribers. The book has clearly been used quite a bit since the leather on the spine has nearly completely separated from the rest of the book, held on by only two pieces of well-aged tape.
Inside the book are tucked random bits of newspaper articles containing recipes, notes on pages, and the end few pages were left blank to contain, “Recipes Gathered by the Way.” All those pages are filled in, so I’ve scanned them here for you because they’re pretty interesting. There were no oven temperatures listed, just “Moderate” or “Quick” oven, but fortunately there’s a temperature chart available here to help convert these recipes. I may even give them a try at some point! Small thumbnails here, click the images to see the larger version in case you want to try your hand at any of these.
The full book has been digitized by Google Books (available here), so you can have a look through the recipes in the book. Beyond recipes, there’s a section on napkin folding, one on meal planning, personal care, stain removal, and how to care for your home. The back quarter or so of the book involves a “Medical Adviser” which is obviously and somewhat hilariously outdated, but worth a glance if just to appreciate how far we’ve come in terms of medical knowledge in just over 125 years. I’ll leave you with what’s easily one of my favorite pages because it’s SO cringe inspiring today.