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Food Thrift: Scraps from the Past

Today’s post is authored by Constance Carter, head of the science reference section. Connie has written for us before, see her post - Celebrate with a Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Display of home-canned food. FSA/OWI Color Photographs.

Today, as the country recovers from an economic downslide, we can seek our forebears’ advice and learn from their ingenuity. How exactly did they use their talents to feed and care for their families and communities?  Books, such as the American Frugal Housewife and Home Canning and Food Thrift, maxims, such as “husband your stuff, don’t stuff your husband” or “waste not, want not,” and articles in 19th-century magazines, e.g., the Delineator, Good Housekeeping, and Table Talk,  paint the picture.  We learn that our ancestors economized through the imaginative use of leftovers, by substituting protein-rich beans and peas for expensive cuts of meat, planting vegetable gardens, canning and drying surplus food, and by bartering goods they had for ones they needed.

Our newly released webcast, “Food Thrift: Scraps from the Past,” uses the Library’s collections to illustrate how our ancestors coped with downturns in their economies as far back as 1829. This illustrated 19-minute webcast, which covers the years 1829-1922, is accompanied by a transcript and a 7-page resources guide providing primary and secondary print sources, web sites of interest, and a list of period magazines.

Celebration of Machu Picchu

The following is a guest post by Barbara Tenenbaum, a specialist in Mexican Culture and Curator of the  Jay I Kislak Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division. On Wednesday, June 29 from 6-8 pm, the Hispanic Division and the Embassy of Peru are presenting a conference on “Machu Picchu:  a Centennial Celebration” in the […]


I thought I would take an opportunity to post briefly on BEOnline (Business and Economics Online).  The BEOnline project began in 1996 and has developed into a useful collection of Internet links organized by subject area. Donna Scanlon who blogged for Business before I did, featured the job search and career assistance area in a […]

Pic of the Week: “What number please?”

Today’s photo features a map of the telephone lines found in the October 1894 issue of the National Telephone Directory from American Telephone and Telegraph Company.  As noted on the title page, this publication “is intended to be a List of Stations Connected by Metallic-Circuit Lines” within the “LONG DISTANCE” System and includes businesses and […]

Know Your Marble

If you have ever visited Washington, D.C., one of the first things you may have noticed is the amount of marble used in the buildings (exterior and interior), monuments, and statues throughout the city. For instance you can find Colorado Yule at the Lincoln Memorial;  Cockeysville, Sheffield and Texas marble at the Washington Monument; and […]

Pic(s) of the Week: Child Leaves His Mark

We recently hosted students from the Tai Sophia Institute, to whom we exhibited copies of the Library’s 19th– century books on holistic and eclectic medicine, also called Thomsonian medicine. My colleague found some unusal art work within a copy of Samuel Thomson’s  A Narrative of the Life and Medical Discoveries of Samuel Thomson, which may amuse our readers. Apparently, a […]

The Sesquicentennial: 8th Census of 1860

This year we are commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  The Library recently debuted the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, and after spending time looking at those photographs, I thought it would be interesting to write a blog post featuring business-related resources that illuminate the lives of the people living in the […]