William L. Clements Library


Past Exhibit

Exhibit at the Great Hall of the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
THE OLD GIRL NETWORK: CHARITY COOKBOOKS AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN

June 2—October 3, 2008

Curated by Jan Longone

Lecture by Curator Jan Longone: Sunday, September 21, 2008, 2:30-5:00

Building will open at 2:30 for viewing; lecture will begin at 3:00; reception to follow

Kritters of the Kitchen Kingdom book

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 our upcoming exhibit at the Clements Library to see the politics just under every woman’s nose (and, often, behind many men’s backs).

This exhibit features cookbooks on many themes with an emphasis on female empowerment. 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 will be 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 be able to 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 is the exhibit to prove you wrong! We cordially invite you to see for yourself, however.

For further information please call 734-764-2347 or email jblong@umich.edu