The House-Keepers’ Help: A Book of Tested Recipes. [Compiled by Ladies of the Third Presbyterian Church].

Indianapolis, Ind. [The Church; Printed by] Baker, Schmidlap & Co., Printers and Binders, 1876.

Octavo (20 x 14 cm.), 137 [ii] pages. “Index” is actually a table of contents. Blank leaves intercalated. Author from prefatory note, page [3] (called “Dedicatory” in the table of contents). ~ Evident FIRST EDITION. A centenary-year church cookbook – “for the daughters and grand-daughters of the century to come” – with some three hundred unattributed recipes. Representative among them: Corn Oysters, Fried Tomatoes, Cale Cannon (chopped cabbage with mashed potatoes), Scalloped Egg-Plant, Ochra (i.e., Okra) Soup, Frizzled Beef, Fulton Market Stew, Sago Pudding, Whortleberry Pudding, German Toast (also known as French Toast), Plum Catsup, Blackberry Syrup, Preserved Whole Quinces, Charlotte Russe, Boiled Custard, Crème Diplomat (with wine and ginger), Pine-Apple Chips, Raspberry Vinegar. Exemplary, too, of the substantial emphasis in early anthologies, beyond the range of recipes, on chapters dedicated to Bills of Fare, Weights and Measures, Useful Articles (or hints for keeping house), not to forget a reprinting, on page [5], of John Ruskin’s then-recent answer to the question “What Does ‘Cooking’ Mean?” from the seventh chapter of his The Ethics of the Dust (1866). ~ The House-Keepers’ Help is unusual for the degree of specificity on its title page regarding the motivation of its contributors: “The proceeds from the sale of this volume are to be devoted to foreign missions, as connected with the Woman’s Board.” Presbyterian support at the local level of ongoing missionary work in many corners of the world was extensive and well organized, and the Woman’s Board acknowledged in the “Dedicatory” would have been the Woman’s Presbyterian Board of Missions of the Northwest, centrally administered from Chicago, a consociate organization with the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church, headquartered in Philadelphia. Both of relatively new mintage, their jointly published newsletter Woman’s Work for Woman was in its sixth year of publication by 1876. ~ That Presbyterians had established a pervading presence in the Upper Midwest is arguably an understatement. Indianapolis alone had at least sixteen active Presbyterian congregations before 1920. Third Presbyterian was founded in September 1851, its twenty-two members meeting in a small church at the corner of Ohio and Illinois Streets in the center of town. In 1883, a few years after The House-Keepers’ Help appeared, the membership reorganized in accordance with what has variously been called the antiformalist or nonconformist movement – promoted nominally by English Baptists, but appealing to many Presbyterians as well – and renamed themselves Presbyterian Tabernacle. Traditional practices, such as graded pew rents and segregation by class, were vociferously abandoned by the new order. ~ Eventually, in 1921, Presbyterian Tabernacle outgrew its downtown location and, though at some remove (at 34th and Central Streets) remains an active community, espousing both local and far-flung missionary ambitions, as did the Woman’s Board in the 1870s. ~ A bit shaken, and lacking the front free endpaper. Some light soiling throughout. In publisher's blind-decorated and gilt-titled green cloth; some rubbing to edges. Still, near very good. With several handwritten recipes on the interleaved pages, including A Delicious Drink, Spanish Bun, Higden Pickle, and Shad Roe Salad. Ink ownership inscription of "Mary F. Feeld" to title page and to front paste-down, and one other piece of interesting marginalia. The book's final page of text contains a "Special Notice" urging households to abstain from the use of alcohol. In pencil, a reader has added, "Bone Dry". Scarce. [OCLC locates five copies; Bitting, page 564; Brown 989; Cook, page 71].

Price: $450.00