Early in the new century, as concern grew for better and more nutritious eating, many cookbooks began to take on a civic tone, combining themes such as health, resisting waste, and even patriotism. This 1913 book, a product of supporters of the Woodrow Wilson presidency, consists of menus and recipes contributed by about 425 prominent American women, ranging from Mrs. Grover Cleveland to Maida Nelson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, identified as a Southern Society Belle. (Also, by our count, seven men, including Henry Ward Beecher, Oscar of the Waldorf, and Dr. Harvey Wiley, founder of the Food and Drug Administration, who also did the book’s foreword.)
The aim of the book, its compilers claim, is to demonstrate that “economy and palatability go hand in hand in the preparation of foods without sacrifice of nutritive properties.” This principle “now comes to us in a new form as a means of solving the problems of the poor,” and their roster of contributors, they assert, “serves as proof that good cooking and high thinking go hand in hand in long established households.” Opening the book is a section on the Wilson Family Cookbook (which came down in Mrs. Wilson’s family), along with selected recipes. A fascinating book that serves as a revealing portrait of a time and a state of mind at a critical point in the history of cooking and eating in America.