A history of food requires a history of women. And there could be no better time to highlight all the ways and recipes and dishes and gastronomic advances that make this statement true than Women’s History Month.
Every March, the The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution observe Women’s History Month as a time for “commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.” And every year the National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes a yearly theme. This 2019 theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence” and honors "women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society."
Using this theme as a guide, I will be celebrating Women’s History Month through the lens of food studies and will feature several new posts and recipes throughout the month of March featuring women who use food to change society. While I planned to publish one post a week, there is such a plethora of food-related women’s history to share with you (much of it brand new and happening as I type!) that there will likely be shorter posts of article-round ups and historical recipe challenges here and there. Together we’ll investigate the feminist practice of cookbook sharing on Instagram, graph the long American history of women’s relationship to tea (and how it’s slowly being decolonized!), ponder the symbolism of “feminist cookies,” bake a Rebel Cake, talk about tips for transcribing your grandmother’s recipes, and a whole lot more.
Several reasons have kept me from posting in this space. Some scholarly (comprehensive examinations) and others delightfully thematic for this month’s celebrations (second pregnancy/motherhood times two), but I hope to draw renewed energy from this year’s Women’s History Month and a fresh perspective from the work of my fellow women colleagues who study at the deep and meaningful intersections of food history and gender. I’m still getting my weblegs back again (finding time to write between baby feedings and digital archive dives is tough), so we’ll start the month off with a few of my favorite articles on women and food:
The Subversive History of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer by Sarra Sedghi | KitchenAid is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year an has a wonderful company visual narrative that pairs well with Sarra’s piece.
Sitting by the Fireside: African American History, Women’s History, and Food by Psyche Williams-Forson | In this piece, Dr. Williams-Forson writes about the National Library of Medicine’s newish exhibit on food and enslavement in early America.
How Highly Processed Foods Liberated 1950s Housewives by Elizabeth L. Maurer | This is just one short aspect of this point in American women’s food history, but this piece has helpful links to other articles through a well-rounded works cited tab.
Food, history & feminism: “The Women’s Pages” by Francis Lam | Not really an article, but a transcription of an episode of Francis’ radio segment Splendid Table in which he interviews longtime food writer, Hanna Raskin.
The Woman Suffrage Cookbook of 1886: Culinary Evidence of Women Finding a New Voice by Emily Contois | An oldie-but-a-goodie post on Emily’s longtime academic blog with lots of great links to digital cookbook archives.
And if you only have time for a quick bite, check out this short but sweet list of important moments in women’s food history by the now sadly shuttered feminist food magazine, Render Food Mag.
Check back soon for more #foodherstory.