About the Exhibit: 

June 2 - October 3, 2008

Curated by Jan Longone

Before mass media, communication and transit, the first wave of the women’s movement was already active via the most ordinary of objects: the lowly cookbook. As many people do not understand why we preserve these ephemeral materials, we invite you to see the politics just under every woman’s nose (and, often, behind many men’s backs).

Exhibit Featured In

  1. -Jan Longone’s Exhibit Lecture (click for links to video) by  Sunday, September 21, 2008

  2. -The Michigan Independent: The Cookbook: Not Your Ordinary Political Weapon

  3. -Christian Science Monitor: They Cooked Up Recipes for Charity

  4. -The Ann Arbor News: The Old Girl Network Exhibit at the University of Michigan Clements Library

  5. -University of Michigan Record: They Cooked Up An Unprecedented Political Movement


This Exhibit featured cookbooks on many themes with an emphasis on female empowerment, and this website documenting the Exhibit features a selection of those cookbook images. Many of the compilers worked hard to publish these books (with scant funding) in hopes of raising more women to the level they had already attained. The books demonstrate how women worked together to help themselves, other women and the outside world. Causes include: Suffrage, military and patriotic support, Temperance, education, working women and Women’s Exchanges.

On display is the first American “charity,” A Poetical Cookbook, written for the 1864 Sanitary Fair, to support those wounded, widowed or orphaned by the Civil War. Also shown is a rare copy of The National Cookery Book, written for the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia to celebrate the nation’s 100th Birthday.

In addition to cookbooks, you will encounter political cartoons, memorable quotes, interesting ads and other ephemeral material that will enhance your understanding of how these women both saw and influenced the world of their time. You will also see how few motivated women could stick to just one cause; there is much crossover between the charities and their supporters. In short, if you think cookbooks are dull with nothing but recipes (as interesting as they may be) in them, then this exhibit will prove you wrong! We cordially invite you to see for yourself.

                           Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive

“To The First Woman Who Realized That Half of the Human Race Were Not Getting a Square Deal”