The Old Girl Network: Charity Cookbooks and the Empowerment of Women
THE CULINARY HISTORIANS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PRESENT
JAN LONGONE SPEAKING ON
“THE OLD GIRL NETWORK: CHARITY COOKBOOKS AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN”
Saturday, April 9th, 10:30 a.m. at the Los Angeles Public Library
Mark Taper Auditorium, Downtown Central Library, 630 W. 5th St.
Free and open to the public
Published by women in nonprofit groups across the country, “charity cookbooks” are a legacy of the Civil War. They have been produced since the 1860s, benefiting churches, schools, sororities, the homeless and others in need. Jan Longone explores the roles that charity cookbooks played (and continue to play) in women’s empowerment.
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 items, this lecture explores the politics just under every woman’s nose (and, often, behind men’s backs!).
Many of the compilers worked hard to publish these cookbooks (with scant funding) in hopes of raising more women to the level they had already attained. The effort required creating, publishing and distributing the books created a formal social network that established communication channels and helped to fortify solidarity leading to fledging political movements that transformed American culture. The books demonstrate how women worked together to help themselves, other women, and the outside world. These cookbooks championed many causes: suffrage, education, temperance, prohibition, equal rights, working conditions, welfare, immigration and legal rights and responsibilities. And, along the way, the recipes and how-to advice in the books offer a compelling glimpse into America’s cooking habits and its region-by-region culinary heritage.
A reception with themed refreshments will follow the talk at approximately 11:30.
ABOUT JAN LONGONE
Jan Longone, Curator of American Culinary History at the University of Michigan’s Clements Library, is also proprietor of The Wine and Food Library, America’s oldest antiquarian culinary bookshop. She is the founder and honorary chair of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor. In addition to her curatorial duties and her book business, Jan is a writer, lecturer, teacher, consultant, radio commentator and collection developer in matters gastronomic. She has given numerous lectures and has curated a dozen American Culinary History exhibitions and held two Biennial Symposia on American Culinary History.
She wrote the entries on American cookbooks for the Oxford Companion To Food and is an Associate Editor for Oxford’s Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. She serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for Gastronomica, for which she writes the “Vintage Volumes” column. She has served as judge for numerous cookbook and culinary journalism awards including the Tabasco Community Cookbook, Julia Child, and James Beard Awards. She was instrumental in creating MSU’s “Feeding America” website.
In 2000, Jan received the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in recognition of her scholarly determination to preserve and honor American culinary literature and her many other contributions to food history. In September 2009 at Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown BookFest, Ari Weinzweig of Zingermans presented Jan with the 2009 Community Book Award in honor of her lifelong dedication to culinary history.
ABOUT THE CULINARY HISTORIANS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
The Culinary Historians of Southern California (CHSC) is a not-for-profit organization that supports the culinary collections at the Los Angeles Public Library. For more information, visit http://chscsite.org