Exploring Cookbooks: 1913 – The People's Home Library

Published by R.C. Barnum Co. Original copyright date of publication is 1910. This was a subscription book and had to be purchased from a salesman (according to the inside cover page). Approximate size is 10 inches by 7 inches and its about 3 inches thick.

It includes 3 books in 1 – The People’s Home Medical Book by T.J. Ritter, MD, The People’s Home Recipe Book by Mrs. Alice Gitchell Kirk, and The People’s Home Stock Book by W.C. Fair, VS. At this current time it is my oldest authentic book. I have reproductions of earlier cookbooks but nothing else that is actually as old or older than this one.

Each picture is linked to its full size counterpart so if you want to read them you certainly should be able to do so. If you see something you would like to read further or know more about please leave a comment or email me (information is on my About Me page). I really don’t mind sharing.

There’s lots more pictures and information after the jump…

I was given this book for Christmas from my mother. And I’m going to be honest, I have never made a single recipe from this book. Most are very old-fashioned, don’t appeal to my taste, are too difficult to use (no oven temperatures and sometimes no measurements) or in a lot of cases the recipe is just plain gross and inedible. However, I am thinking about trying a few of the cookie and cake recipes posted further down.

Above we have the pages highlighting the necessary kitchen tools/supplies and a chart of the measurements used within this book, not too bad actually compared to some cookbooks from this era and before. The author clearly drew from The Boston Cooking School cookbook, the first of its kind using level measurements of ingredients.

A general instruction guide on meat. What cracks me up though is the first sentence of the third paragraph – “Pork should never be used by anyone who desires the best of food…”!! I had no idea I was so low brow!

This is a bento blog besides just the foodie stuff so I had to include a picture of this page. Some interesting food combinations on these pages, most notably sandwiches most children would never eat, even if being bribed! You’ll notice a lack of peanut butter and jelly and a few other “modern” sandwiches.

I thought this section was interesting. Veganism in 1913. Who knew?

On the right are 2 recipes that I find absolutely revolting. I have no idea how people could eat those. Honestly.

This is an interesting section (and is the rest of the book in fact) as it highlights cooking skills that everyone needed to know at that time. Then it spins off into various different recipes. Basically a long list separated by type with an introduction for each. Each recipe is listed in a paragraph of what to do. See the following picture at the top of the right page for the details.

By far my favorite page in the book. I have it copied and blown up in a frame in my kitchen (I’ve decorated in a vintage style). A “modern” kitchen cabinet so it states – a Hoosier Cabinet actually. And the calendar on the wall is set for December 1909.

This section is just after the cookies and cakes. I’m afraid to say that the cookies section is somewhat dreadful. Things like Ginger Drop, Oatmeal, Molasses, Rocks, Cornstarch and Mince Crisp. Very old fashioned. For your amusement the following recipes are posted exactly as written:

Molasses Cookies-One cup of molasses, 1 teaspoonful of soda beaten in 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of butter, 2/3 cup of sour cream, 3 well beaten eggs, 1 teaspoonful of ginger, 1 teaspoonful of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoonful of salt and flour to make soft dough; bake in a quick oven.

Rocks-One cup of butter, 2 cups of brown sugar, 1 teaspoonful of baking soda, 1/3 cup of hot water, 3 eggs beaten together, 1 1/2 cups of raisins or currants, 1 1/2 cups of English walnuts, 3 cups of flour, 1 teasponnful of cinnamon; drop on pans and back in a quick oven.

Cornstarch Cookies-Two teacups sugar, 1 teacup butter, 1 teacup sour cream, 1 teacup cornstarch, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoonful soda, flour sufficient to thicken; drop from spoon on greased tins and bake.

Cookies-Two eggs, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoonfuls soda, and sufficient flour to roll out.

Mince Crisp Cookies-One cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 well-beaten eggs, large spoonful of milk, 2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder, enough flour to make quite stiff dough; flavor with lemon or nutmeg. Brush tops with milk and sugar.

The cake section on the other hand is extensive but consists mostly of fruit cakes and thicker types of butter cakes. For example:

Devil Cake-One small cake Baker’s chocolate, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup butter, 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk, 3 cups sifted flour, 1 level teaspoonful soda dissolved in hot water, 6 eggs beaten separately. Put chocolate in bowl, set in boiling water and dissolve, add sugar and butter and beat light; add yolks of eggs, then milk and soda; add flour and beateen whites of eggs once and beat till well mixed. Bake in layers and ice.

Nut Cake-One cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoonfuls baking powder, 1 cup nut kernels.

Spice Cake-One cup of sugar, 1 cup molasses, 1/2 cup of butter and lard mixed, 1 cup of sour milk, 2 eggs, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoonful each of cloves and cinnamon, 2 teaspoonfuls of soda. Bake in 4 layers.

The interesting part of this page is in the second paragraph after the header – “The writer, having had years of experience and having now retired from business, makes known for the first time candy secrets obtained from confectioners whose whole lives have been devoted to the work and who are now operating some of the finest stores in the East.” I’m not sure if this would actually be the first time in print but her methods are very good, though a tad outdated, of course.

A couple of the candy recipes on the left side and an interesting photo of common kitchen tools on the right.

Another interesting photo of a few more common kitchen tools.

A complete section in the back on how to do things like clean carpets, mend things, make commonly needed items, etc. Very helpful to a housewife of that era I’m sure.
Within this book someone, or someones, at some point or points, put in leaves, flowers and important newspaper clippings and papers. Some I can date, most I can’t. But take a look for yourself:

Of all of them I love the police blotter the most. Nice way of indicating that someone put up a fight about being arrested!!



Filed under Exploring Cookbooks

18 responses to “Exploring Cookbooks: 1913 – The People's Home Library

  1. This is so cool! I just love old cookbooks, it is amazing to see what people used to make back in the day.

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll! 😀

  2. Doug Stewart

    I finally had to go online to see if there were
    any other of these books around and there are some it appears. I have a 1914 edition that belonged to an uncle of mine that died in 1942, the year I was born. It is a little tattered with a few torn pages and the binding is coming apart. I don’t know for sure, but I believe that
    he bought it brand new. He had a small ranch in
    Wyoming adjoining his mother and step-father. My
    father, his brother, lived in Wyoming and Eastern Montana after moving from Nebraska in 1920 and lived at what is called the Nebraska flats between Gillette, Wyo.and Broadus,Montana.
    They no doubt needed it more for the Medical and Stock information than the recipes, but it is a great old book to have a copy of.
    It’s also interesting that they tell you how to make some of the patented drugs of that day.
    Have a great evening,
    Doug Stewart,
    Missoula, Mt.

  3. JoshWink

    Oh, Thanks! Really amazing. Big ups!

  4. Al Larson

    I have pat of a book that my father gave me years ago but the first 127 pages are missing. I would like to find a complete book for sale…If know of any please notify me…I need the cookie and cake section.
    Thank you..
    Allen Larson

  5. I have one that is published in 1910. very tattered but all is there. would of never thought of some of the stuff that was used.very interesting book.

  6. i have a copy of the peoples home libary it was given to my mother
    from her mother inlaw is it worth any value if i was to sell it
    from jenny harris
    9 tennessee way kelso 4815
    north queensland

  7. Rebecca

    I found a copy of this book in an old building and inside theres a certificate from 1912 from Dr.W.C. Fair.

  8. Sandra Maddox

    Please mail a copy of this article to Harvey Boyer
    48 East Brittany Drive
    West Hurley New York 12491

  9. I have started posting full text articles from this collection of “library’s” You can go read my posts at http://peopleslibrary.blogspot.com/

    I make no changes to the book text and no judgements — just some family and friends have expressed an interest, so I post it as I am able to type it up. The copyright is long expired so it is in the public domain. I do not think that there is any ‘value’ in this book other that a curious interest in how the world has changed and moved on from the time much of this was written. It is for interest only. There are enought ‘copies’ of this book out there so that it makes it little more than a collectible for interest only.

  10. Janice O Fair

    Rebecca Jan 21, 2009 says she found a cert from 1912 of W C Fair. I would love to know what it says. William Cooper Fair is my husbands Great Uncle. My old copy of the book only has 4 leaf clovers. I got my copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, one of those online sellers. I don’t think they are very valuable. Janice Fair jeof@comcast.net

  11. melissa

    I have this book, just picked it up tonight and was searching for info about it here. I am wanting to possibly sell it. You can email me at do_dream2000@yahoo.com It is all there, the binding has come loose but every single page seems to be here. Mine was printed in 1913.

  12. sam

    i have the same book .is it worth anything

  13. Michele

    I have this book. Quite interesting and graphic. I have had this book since I was little, it must have been passed down. The copywright is 1910 and the publish date is 1913. I have seen it retailed for $50 on line, but would never consider selling it. My family is from South Dakota so I assume that is where it was purchased. Inside the pages I have found a Love story written in pen with ficticious names, news clippings dated 1920′ – 1940’s. and a flattened flower.

  14. Rick Johnson

    Great Condition 1913 copy here.

    Loose inside the pages:

    Postcard for Sears Roebuck, Philly, PA to send in for their new wallpaper (100 free samples).

    Letter about a sick horse that died.

    Certicate (reads)
    This CERTIFIES that..(still blank)…..has purchased “THE PEOPLE’S HOME LIBRARY,” and that he is entitled for five years to absolutely free consultation with DR. W. C. FAIR, V. S., concerning the diseases, symptoms, treatment, breeding or feeding of any livestock owned by himself or any member of his family.

    Subscriber’s Address….(still blank)…..
    (a red seal stamp on left) DR. W. C. FAIR, V.S.
    By [R. S. Copleland], Agent
    (actual signature in pen)
    Date [Sept. 15] (in pen)….., 19[13] (year in pen)

    Fine print at bottom reads:
    Note-Do not forget to cut out and enclose this certificate, which will be promptly returned to you with a reply. Also enclose a two-cent stamp. Address, DR. W. C. FAIR, V. S., 625 Long Ave., Cleveland, Ohio. State symptoms fully, by telling just how the animal acts. A fee of ONE DOLLAR will be charged for each consultation with those who are not subscribers.

    Someone pasted inside cover with five newspaper clippings:

    “Horses Itch” query by F.B.L. (Washington County, PA) with response from J.F.S.

    Obit for George M. Kerr buried Apollo cemetery, officiated by George Bowersox from Hebron Lutheran Church, Leechburg.

    Deathbed photo and verbiage from Frank Dalton stating he was really Jessie James.

    “Jessie James” loses fight, MO judge tells 109 yr old Dalton to stop using the name Jessie James and that if he is Jessie to “retreat to his rendezvous and ask his good god to forgive him.”

    Picture of General MacArthur’s in clipping about him turning 13, born n Manilla, currently in Japan and has never stepped foot in the US.


  15. I’ve got the People’s Home Library that my great grand mother bought in 1919. In Elma Wa. I have also wondered if it would be worth anything. Does anybody out have an appraisal value for insurance purposes. Thanks Cheryl

  16. mary hurley

    I have the People’s Home Library copyrighted in 1910.
    It is in excellent condition. Is there an appraisal value for insurance
    purposes available?
    Thanks Mary

  17. This is hysterical. I am reading Little Heathens and just read the chapter about medical treatments in which these books were highly coveted. I thought I have to find a set even just for amusement purposes. Low and behold for $20 on Amazon was the full set from 1919! Just one more piece to the puzzle of my journey to the simple life.

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