Milford, Del. [The Club]; Printed at the Caulk Press, [circa 1904].
Octavo (23.25 x 16 cm.), 134 pages. Advertisements. Errata list tipped in. Chairman from Introduction (page 17). Date of publication determined from internal evidence. ~ Evident first edition. A community cookbook undertaken by a recently formed women’s social activist club; with more than four hundred attributed recipes. Entries whose details hold promise: Corned Shad, Celeried Oysters, Creamed Dried Beef, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Succotash (requiring one third more corn than beans), Delaware Biscuits, Potato Rolls, Crab Salad, Moonshine Pudding, Frozen Cherry Custard, Quince and Pear Marmalade, Preserved Cantaloupe Rind, Peach Wine, Homemade Hoarhound. ~ Encoded in the title is a sort of hybrid of local pride and patriotic fervor: the Delaware Blue Hen is a traditional landrace (analogous to a cultivar) – that is, not a breed, but rather a stock variety – whose origins are alleged to date to the Revolutionary Era. (A perennial symbol of tenacity, it would be adopted in 1939 as Delaware’s state bird.) A prefatory note (page 18) provides one clue to the date of publication, in a reference to the “six years and more of the existence of the Club,” which “was organized February 14th, 1898.” Confirmation is supplied (on page 8) by an advertisement for Walter Pardoe’s furniture store, which brackets its years of service to the community as 1877-1904. ~ Mary Louise Donnell (Mrs. George William) Marshall (1853-1933) married into a prominent family of physicians who were instrumental in establishing the first hospital in Milford and in codifying its emergency care. She served as president of the Delaware State Federation of Women’s Clubs during the first decade of the last century, thereby energizing the membership of the Milford Club through her connections across the state and her engagement of speakers on subjects as wide-ranging as agriculture and nutrition. ~ The Milford New Century Club took its name from one of the earliest documented women’s clubs founded in the United States, the New Century Club in Philadelphia, organized as a direct result of interest in the Women’s Pavilion of the Centennial Exposition. In its wake, social activists found common cause in promoting vocational training for women, reforms in public education and child labor laws, and women’s suffrage. Women of the Milford New Century Club set about raising funds to purchase a schoolhouse known as the Classical Academy – which George Marshall had attended – for use as their meeting house. Thanks in part to the success of The Blue Hen’s Chicken’s Cook Book, they completed the purchase in 1905. ~ The clubhouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Almost exactly thirty years later, in 2012, the building was gravely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Amidst the tumult that followed, a Milford couple arranged to purchase and restore it through procurement of grants from the National Park Service. The building was rededicated in June 2015. ~ Some age-toning, especially at the edges. In publisher’s yellow cloth, rubbed and soiled, with lettering and an image of hen and chicks in blue. Ink signature of collector Eloise Schofield to front flyleaf, and with her embossed “ex libris” on title page. Scarce. [OCLC locates one copy of the first edition (and seven copies of the second edition printed by Milford Publishing in 1921); Cook, page 48 (with different pagination); Bitting, pages 520-521; and Brown 399 (both acknowledge the second edition only); not in Cagle].