This week I came across an item in the Kirschner Collection that led me down a rabbit hole of historical library research: The Robbinsdale Library Club Cook Book (1929.) Digging around a little, I found out that the Robbinsdale Library Club got its’ start in 1907, and operated the library in Robbinsdale, MN until 1922 when it became part of the Hennepin County Library System. Here’s a bit of history about the club:
The 26 members each donated $1. per month for the librarian’s salary. The Village Council gave $1. per month but decided it could not afford this expense. It did allow the books to be placed in the village hall free of charge. Previously the books, mostly donated by citizens, had been kept in the Columbia Hotel and later in the drug store. Miss Clara Sessing served as librarian. Books began to disappear from the shelves faster than they could be replaced. Finally those left were placed in storage for two years. via
It’s no wonder the club needed to publish a cook book to raise funds! This particular cook book is fascinating for a number of reasons. First, it is chock full of ads for local businesses and service providers like the one pictured here for Thomas J. Curry which states “Good Plumbing is necessary to prevent the spread of disease. Your health is protected by having plumbing done by competent men.”
Second, the personalities of the Library Club members shine through not just in the recipes (of which there are many), but also in the book’s introduction which includes this poetic foreward:
Our Cook Book
Please study this book with far seeing eyes,
Your neighbors will envy your being so wise,
Your husband will love you because you can cook,
And you will enjoy our “New Cook Book”.
To those, whose advertisements rendered such aid,
We call your attention to their “stock in trade”,
Please give them your patronage so far as you can
For to help one another is the duty of man.
Finally, nearly every blank page in this book has a handwritten recipe jotted down on it. It was clearly well-used. One of the more curious recipes I came across (really it’s more like a list of ingredients) was for “Mexican Salad.” I’m printing it here in the hopes that one of you will try making it and tell me how it goes. Consider the gauntlet thrown. If you report back with pictures, I’ll happily send you a prize.
1 pkg. lemon jello
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vinegar
1 level tablespoon chili powder
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 can sweet pimento
1/2 green pepper (diced)
1 lg. red apple, peeling on (diced)
That’s all there is, so you’ll need to interpret the assembly yourself.
Tomorrow I’ll post another handwritten recipe from this book that I did try myself. I promise you it’s a keeper.