Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook – the big day

Last Wednesday Nov 16th, HSP celebrated the publishing of Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook. Sound familiar? That’s because we posted about it here.

 The event included a display of  our historical cookbooks from the collection, including Martha Washington’s cookbook, both of the Mrs. Penn’s cookbooks, a 2nd edition of Amelia Simmons’ book printed 1808 as well as the original manuscript cookbook from Ellen Emlen.


I spoke about the conservation of the original work as well as some of the learning opportunities to be found in the book.


Jennifer McGlinn joined us as well. She cooked the meatballs, gingerbread and Mr. Atherton’s punch. She also spoke of the history of gingerbread and gave us tips for working with historical recipes. 

Jennifer has generously shared the transcribed recipes with us and they are posted here. Make sure to reference your copy of the facsimile!

Miss James’ Gingerbread (p. 120)

Mrs. Emlen has edited this recipe from the original writing. She called for one tablespoon of ground allspice, but then writing in a heavier pen, “I’ve only put a tea[spoon].” I think she was quite right; a whole tablespoon would have been too strong, here. I have added a heaping teaspoon to this version.

I have also slightly altered the amount of baking soda she suggests. This is a very large cake with lots of acid in the form of molasses and sour cream. Using one-and-three-quarters teaspoons of soda creates the right amount of leavening.

The addition of salt is yet another variation. We add salt to just about every cake and cookie these days, and for good reason. It buoys the flavor of the other ingredients and makes the final sweet product sweeter and more flavorful. Salt was rarely added to nineteenth-century baked goods. I believe it to be a necessary addition here.

As for the sour cream, here, again, Mrs. Emlen originally incorporated milk into the cake, but added a note, again in a heavier pen, that “sour cream is better.” I think she was correct. The thickness and tartness of the sour cream heightens the flavor and helps to create a soft cake with a delicate crumb. It should be noted, as well, that the original recipe called for combining the baking soda and milk (or sour cream) before adding it to the other ingredients. Using today’s baking soda, it is just fine to whisk it into the dry ingredients as we do with most cake and cookie recipes.

Finally, Mrs. Emlen’s recipe calls for a “wineglass of brandy.” Earlier in the century and quite probably up until Mrs. Emlen’s time, a wineglass referred a small amount, about one-quarter cup. This batter is very thick, however, and really needs more of what we would consider a substantial wineglass—one cup. You can use all brandy if you like, but I found that incorporating a bit of brandy along with apple juice, cider, or even better, a spiced cider (try Trader Joe’s brand), adds a lot of flavor to the finished cake.

Despite the size of this gingerbread, it only requires about forty minutes in the oven. Serve it plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes one 9-by-13-inch cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup molasses

1 cup apple juice, cider, or spiced cider (or 3/4 cup juice and 1/4 cup brandy)

1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan (nonstick is useful here).

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until smooth, light, and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one thoroughly before adding the next. Add the molasses, mixing until combined. Reduce the mixing speed and add about one-quarter of the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Alternately add the juice, sour cream, and the remaining flour, ending with the flour and stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl, until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake has risen, is golden brown, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning out the cake to cool completely on the rack.

Meatballs (p. 8)

These meatballs, originally prepared in the nineteenth century with leftover cooked rare meat, prove quite successful when made with fresh ground beef. Typical of the period, Mrs. Emlen’s recipe given to her by Mrs. Wharton calls not only for herbs, bread soaked in milk, and onion, but also ground or freshly grated nutmeg and lemon zest and juice. The latter, while particularly unfamiliar to many of today’s cooks, is splendid here, contributing a brightness and freshness to the flavorful meat.

Brown these meatballs simply in a bit of olive oil, or, if you wish, dip them first in egg and then dredge them in breadcrumbs, as Mrs. Emlen suggests in a preceding recipe for chicken and oyster croquettes. This recipe calls for shaping the meatballs into walnut-size rounds, but of course, you can make them any size you wish.  

Makes about 30 meatballs

1 slice hearty white bread, torn roughly into pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground beef

About 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Zest and juice of 1 small lemon

Olive oil for browning

Combine the bread and milk in a small bowl, soaking the bread completely. Set aside until the milk is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Combine the beef, parsley, onion, nutmeg, salt, pepper, egg, and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl, gently mixing to incorporate all of the ingredients. Form the mixture into walnut-size balls (about 30).

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Place some of the meatballs in the pan, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch in between each one, and cook until browned on the bottoms, about 5 minutes. Turn the meatballs and cook until firm (fully cooked) and browned on the other sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and set aside to keep warm. Clean the pan, if necessary, and heat additional olive oil to cook the remaining meatballs in the same manner.   

Mr. Atherton’s Punch (p. 144)

The following recipe is based upon Mrs. Emlen’s (originally Mr. Atherton’s) own with several alterations. First, she calls for preparing twice this amount, which produces nearly a gallon of punch. Next, I have reduced the amount of brandy and rum she called for; add it all if you wish, but it is quite strong prepared this way. Finally, I have not only used lemon zest here, but sliced lemons and juice, as well. Relying on only lemon zest makes for a very strong and bitter final product. Adding the juice along with lemon slices results in a punch that quite like a refreshing spiked lemonade.

This punch can, indeed, sit aside in the refrigerator for a while, but I wouldn’t recommend steeping the zest and lemon slices in it for more than a couple of hours, as it will grow too bitter. In addition, after about seven hours or so in the refrigerator, the lemon loses its freshness and brightness.

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups water

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup light rum

5 lemons

About 1 cup sugar, plus more as needed

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the brandy and rum. Zest and juice 3 of the lemons and add to the water and liquor mixture. Slice the remaining 2 lemons into thin rounds and add to the mixture. Using your hands (use gloves, if necessary), squeeze the lemons to extract as much juice as possible. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add more sugar, if necessary.

Set the punch aside in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Strain and chill until ready to serve.

 HSP would like to thank Jennifer for sharing her transcription of the recipes with us! Jennifer has her own blog which can be found here: http://jennifermcglinn.wordpress.com/ 

We would also like to thank the over 50 people who attended the event.

Jennifer McGlinn (left) and Tara O’Brien (right) referencing the original Ellen Emlen manuscript (on the table) to the printed facsimile (in hands).

All images are courtesy of Sharon Gershoni


From Workshop to Practice

This past weekend I attended a Guild of Bookworkers, Delaware Chapter workshop taught by Pamela Spitzmueller.  Pam is the first James W. Needham Chief Conservator for Special Collections in the University Library and the College Library at Harvard University. The workshop was to inform us about considerations that must be taken into account with folded items within an atlas structure. This workshop was important for us, not only because we have so many maps in book as well as atlases,  but also for all of the genealogical charts!

Each participant in the GBW workshop completed a 3×5 sample book of different kinds of folds as well as several models of other books.

The sample book:

The squashed scroll:

The side cut fold:

side cut fold again:

map which unfolds completely outside of the book allowing for the rest of the book to be read with the map unfolded for reference:

and the Chinese Road Atlas:

The workshop was great for bringing awareness to what can go wrong when maps are folded into books. When I got back on Monday I was excited to pull some of our older atlases and take a look at them with a fresh eye.

One of my favorites is this “Atlas”  presented to John Hancock, Esq. Yes, THE John Hancock.

This is a large volume with maps showing the coastline from Maine to Florida. It gives information about how to avoid the gulf stream as well as some of the more treacherous shoals. The book is made up of the maps which have been printed on several different sizes of paper.  Some of them fold out, some do not. A label on the front says 1780.

Next I looked at “Europe Divided after D’Annville” 1795. This atlas had a lot of good packing and compensating material.  Much thought went into the construction by the binder. You can see all of the compensating material in this spine shot.  This was used to create enough room in the spine so that the folded maps – which are thicker than a single sheet of paper –  wouldn’t make the book splay open.  (the book was also “repaired” at some point and you can see the new material under the spine)

Inside the book are some fantastic engravings. This map of Minorca is beautifully designed. It includes a larger map in the upper left, a view of the harbor in the upper right, the actual island in the middle and two elevations of different cities in the bottom right and left.  This map is printed  on one sheet of paper which is folded in half and glued to a tab. The tab is what is sewn into the spine and binding of the book.

This large engraving of the southern half of Ireland has suffered from use in this perfect example of when things go wrong. Here is the image before it’s opened:

after opening: between Kerry and Waterford you should be able to read Cork.

However, that area shows typical damage of a folded map tipped in too closely to the spine.

And finally another atlas, the Altas Geographicus Maior, 1759-1762,  is much thicker than either of the previous books. It contains maps which fold out in various directions. Including this one of the “Filipines”.

It is possible to see where the folding has damaged the book in both of these images.

This page also has a beautiful little compass rose. Here’s a detail for you:

This last book had another especially nice little image on the title page:

The Philadelphia Record news clippings morgue

About 90% of materials that will be included in the Greenfield digital project on the Bankers Trust Company of Philadelphia come from the Albert M. Greenfield Papers (collection 1959). The other 10% include items from other collections here at HSP that also provide information about the bank.

One such collection that Dana and I have decided to use is the Philadelphia Record news clippings morgue (3344). Like Temple’s Urban Archives, which owns the Evening Bulletin clippings morgue, HSP holds the clippings morgue of the Record, a Philadelphia daily newspaper that ran from 1877 to 1947.

This large collection, dating from 1918 until the newspaper ceased publication, could potentially provide a wealth of information for researchers. However, its current condition makes access an issue. The clippings, folded and contained in envelopes, are housed in about 30 filing cabinets and 30 cardboard/wooden drawers.

Filing cabinets, wooden drawers where clippings are housed

Although the clippings are organized by person and subject, no subject guide or inventory currently exists. And the clippings themselves are extremely brittle.

Dana and I thus had some issues to deal with in using the collection. The approximately 25 envelopes of clippings relating to Bankers Trust Company that we pulled were given to Conservation. The staff humidified and flattened the clippings so that we could make preservation photocopies of them onto archival quality paper. These copies of the articles are those that we will digitize for the project.

post conservation treatment

These newspaper articles not only enhance the information found in the Greenfield Papers by offering a human side to the story, but also help to fill in gaps concerning the story of Bankers Trust. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, one of these gaps deals with the failed efforts to reorganize the bank and its subsequent liquidation. Articles from the clippings morgue have given us a much better understanding of this period in the bank’s history.

This article was published the day Bankers Trust closed

Some clippings in the collection are from other local papers, including this article from the Public Ledger dated August 27, 1931 about the bank's reorganization efforts

Although articles from the Record clippings morgue will provide key information, one factor that Dana and I, and researchers, need to keep in mind is the paper’s potential bias on topics relating to Greenfield and Bankers Trust. Albert M. Greenfield played an integral role in the newspaper’s history, including serving as one of its primary supporters and financial contributors.

It’s here!

The wait is finally over! HSP is happy to announce its first publication in many years; a facsimile of Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook dated to 1865. The manuscript contains over 200 recipes which are clearly organized with a table of contents. Written by Mrs. Emlen’s own hand the recipes are legible and give a sense of her character that would be lost in printed text.

The book includes many tips and tricks passed down through the family, as well as additional recipes collected from friends.Experienced cooks and those with a sense of adventure will enjoy cooking from this book.

Our purpose in reproducing this primary source is to inspire individuals and organizations to create a better future through historical understanding.

Copies are available for purchase at HSP’s front desk or at our Online Shop.

Our Biggest Challange – Digital Preservation

Posted on behalf of Bill Rueter

In 1995, in a seminal article on digital preservation in Scientific American, Jeff Rothenberg presented this hypothetical scenario:

The year is 2045, and my grandchildren (as yet unborn) are exploring the attic of my house (as yet unbought).  They find a letter dated 1995 and a CD-ROM (compact disk).  The letter claims that the disk contains a document that provides the key to obtaining my fortune (as yet unearned).  My grandchildren are understandably excited, but they have never seen a CD before – except in old movies – and even if they can somehow find a suitable disk drive, how will they run the software necessary to interpret the information on the disk? How can they read my obsolete digital document? (Rothenberg, 1995)

If it seems funny to imagine CDs as unreadable antiques in 50 years, consider the storage mediums of the 1980s and early 1990s, which only 20-25 years later look almost Mesozoic:


Legacy formats from HSP’s Institutional Archives.

In Ghostbusters, released in 1984, when Janine Melnitz said to Dr. Egon Spengler, “You’re very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too,” Spengler famously, monotonously responded, “Print is dead.”  And while predictions of paperless offices have proved premature, the papers that document an individual’s or an organization’s history are, increasingly, not actually created on paper, but rather digitally, via software programs.  Digital preservation, therefore, is a pressing issue in archives that affects the integrity of not only the material that is already part of collections, but also affects decisions regarding the types of digital materials and file formats that institutions will collect in the future.  Obsolescence with regard to file formats, software, media and hardware presents complex issues that are difficult to predict. Any preservation strategy that is employed must be designed to adapt to unknown changes.  Even if, for example, the 3.5” disks found in HSP’s collections have not been damaged — their data neither erased nor compromised — there is no guarantee the newest version of Microsoft Word will open up documents that were created with WordPerfect, or even an earlier version of Word.

Emory University’s work with Salman Rushdie’s archive material has brought to light many of the issues involved with preserving legacy digital materials.  Not only did the Emory archivists collect all of his printed material, but they took every computer, hard drive, CD, and diskette in Rushdie’s apartment.  Erika Farr, Emory’s director of born-digital initiatives, noted: “Rushdie’s archive is pretty remarkable and high profile. It’s a perfect one to start with. Much of his archival material after the 1980s, including daily calendars, virtual sticky notes, email correspondence and first drafts of novels, never existed on paper. We have close to his entire digital life up to 2006” (Naughton, 2011).


A Macintosh Performa 5400 like the one used by Salman Rushdie

If most of Rushdie’s archival material since 1990 never existed on paper, we can imagine how little material will be created on paper in the future.

My internship at HSP consists of two primary projects that will hopefully contribute to planning a digital preservation strategy:  1) Identifying materials within the collections that exist on digital formats, such as CDs and DVDs, and migrating the files to a separate, secure location, as well as identifying materials that exist on legacy formats, such as 3.5” and 5.25” floppy disks, WANG disks, audio cassette tapes, VHS tapes, open reel tapes, etc., and researching migration and/or emulation solutions to ensure their preservation; and 2) Interviewing the staff of HSP to determine the types of digital files that are being created during the course of business, how and where they are saved, and what is being done with them.

The goal of any digital preservation strategy is to provide long-term access to digital information, and that access is dependent on the integrity of each of the digital items.  The challenge for archives is to preserve the integrity of the digital information that has already been collected and to have a plan in place for collecting and managing digital materials in the future.  By failing to commit to digital preservation, institutions risk having Jeff Rothenberg’s hypothetical scenario become reality, and contributing to the “Digital Dark Age” – “the idea that historians of the future will look back to our present age as another Dark Ages since so much important information documenting our current civilization is recorded digitally and will have vanished” (Simons, 2004).


Naughton, J. (2011). If you have lofty ambitions for your legacy, head for the attic.  The Observer.

Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jan/09/digital-archiving-cloud-


Rothenberg, J.  (1999). Ensuring the longevity of digital information.  Scientific American, Vol. 272, No. 1,

pp. 42-47.

Simons, G.F. (2004).  Ensuring that digital data last: the priority of archival form over working form and

presentation form.  Presented at the E-MELD Symposium on “Endangered Data vs. Enduring

Practice,” Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, January 8-11, 2004, Boston, MA.


For further reading:

Emory University Archives: http://www.emory.edu/home/academics/libraries/salman-rushdie.html

New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/books/16archive.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

HSP Civic Engagement Collections: A new NHPRC-funded project

This month HSP begins a new 26-month project to process and conserve fourteen collections related to civic engagement in Philadelphia and beyond. Willhem Echevarría has already started work as project archivist, and in December he will be joined by Leah Mackin as project preservation technician. Previously, both Willhem and Leah worked on our Chew papers project and Digital Center for Americana pilot project, and we’re fortunate that they’ll be continuing on with this new initiative.

In this blog post I’d like to talk about some of the reasons I’m excited about the Civic Engagement Collections project and efforts surrounding it.

Citizens' Permanent Relief Committee flyers

Flyers from Citizens' Permanent Relief Committee records, ca. 1890s

Working with great collections
The project deals with collections documenting a wonderful variety of people and organizations. These range from Albert Greenfield (real estate broker turned banker, politician, and philanthropist) to Morris Milgram (socialist activist turned integrated housing pioneer and developer of planned communities). From Anthony Biddle, Jr. (elite-born diplomat and military officer) to Max Weiner (who helped launch a grassroots consumer protection movement in the 1960s). The project includes the papers of reformers across three generations: Herbert Welsh, who from the 1870s to the 1930s tackled everything from imperialism to forestry to civil service rules; Richardson Dilworth and Natalie Saxe Randall, who helped lead Philadelphia’s political reform movement after World War II; and John Fryer, psychiatrist and gay rights activist, who in 1972 helped persuade the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

Organizational collections in the project include the records of the Citizens’ Permanent Relief Committee, a late 19th century philanthropic group that aided people harmed by natural disasters, famine, war, or political repression; and the Indian Rights Association, which played a key lobbying role from the 1880s to the 1930s around its paternalistic aim to “bring about the complete civilization of the Indians and their admission to citizenship.” There are also six decades of records of the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia, which promoted women’s political participation and took stands on issues ranging from child care and public education to the United Nations and the Marshall Plan.

I’m especially pleased that this project will enable us to digitize 160 hours of phonograph recordings from the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission, a pioneering civil rights coalition formed in 1941. To help promote its multi-cultural ideals, in the 1940s and 50s the commission sponsored a series of radio plays, stories, and interviews with people of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. The Civic Engagement project will make these recordings publicly accessible for the first time since they were broadcast.

Highlighting our 20th-century holdings
While HSP is rightly famous for our pre-20th century collections, the fact that we also have rich collections up through the late 20th century receives much less attention. For example, most of the applications to our research fellowship program (a collaboration with the Library Company of Philadelphia) focus on our pre-20th century collections. The Civic Engagement project – which primarily deals with 20th century collections — is part of our plan to change all that.

A related effort is our recently launched Greenfield Project, funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation. This will endow a research fellowship in 20th-century history and create a web portal focusing on 20th-century collections and featuring related interpretive material. The Greenfield Project funding also covers archival processing work on the Greenfield Papers, which is part of the Civic Engagement project.

Max Weiner collection flyers

Flyers from Max Weiner collection on Consumer Education and Protective Association, ca. 1970s-1980s

Implementing “More Product, Less Process” (MPLP)
The Civic Engagement project is funded primarily by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-giving arm of the National Archives and Records Administration. The NHPRC has gone farther than any other major archives funder in embracing MPLP principles. To get NHPRC funding for a “detailed” processing project, including any descriptive work below the collection level, a repository has to ensure that virtually all of its collections are or will soon be open for research and locatable online. This embodies one of MPLP’s key tenets, that repositories should provide a basic, minimum level of access to all their collections before giving intensive attention to a select few. HSP’s Archives Department wholeheartedly endorses this approach. For the first time ever, we will soon provide online collection-level descriptions for all our archival holdings, through a new online guide that will launch later this year.

Processing work on the Civic Engagement collections will be based on MPLP principles as well. This means that some practices will be streamlined to speed up processing and make more collections accessible more quickly. For example, collections may receive only rough arrangement below the sub-series level. Non-archival folders will be replaced only if they are damaged or do not fit in an archival box. And, yes, metal fasteners will be removed only if they are rusty or pose a hazard to users. Staff time for this project has been allocated based on an average of 2.6 hours per linear foot for processing work and 1.25 hours per linear foot for conservation work. HSP has five different processing levels that we use depending on the specific collection, and guidelines for this project are based on our Level 3 protocol, in the middle of the range.

Contributing to a regional effort
The Civic Engagement project is interconnected with a consortial processing project that HSP is participating in. The PACSCL Hidden Collections project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, is processing collections at 24 institutions, including HSP. (PACSCL stands for Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.) The two projects share the same processing methodology and were developed in close coordination with each other. HSP staff helped design the PACSCL project, establish its standards, and write its manual. PACSCL project staff, in turn, has helped to train HSP staff in the use of MPLP principles and Archivists’ Toolkit. Two collections in the Civic Engagement project (League of Women Voters of Philadelphia and the World War II collection) will be processed by PACSCL project staff at HSP, working alongside HSP staff. This type of interchange enriches our work and helps us see our tasks as part of a regional effort.