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Recipe Initiative Aims to Inspire Home Cooks While Homebound During the Health Crisis


New York, NY, April 14, 2020—During this time of increased at-home cooking and baking, the New-York Historical Society is launching a digital initiative to share  weekly historical recipe highlights from its vast manuscript collection. While more and more people are cooking at home, the recipes aim to inspire food makers with a window into the past. Among the first to be featured is a lemon cake from the Duane family cookbooks, dating from the 1800s. A treasure from the archive, the Duane holdings (1840-1874) include recipes for cakes, preserves, puddings, desserts, and soups, as well as directions for pickling and curing meats. New-York Historical has digitized all six volumes and related recipes, which present a fascinating look inside a 19th century kitchen, where almost everything had to be homemade.

“Recipes from the past offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of those who came before us,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “The women who wrote down these recipes lived through cholera outbreaks and the Civil War, all the while carrying out a wide range of domestic responsibilities, including cooking for their families. We hope these recipes can provide a measure of solace and inspiration during these trying times.”  

Among the highlights of the Duane family cookbooks are recipes for coarse bread, made with pantry staples like flour, water, yeast and molasses; potato pudding, which calls for a pound each of potatoes, sugar and butter, 10 eggs, and a little rosewater; Election Cake; and a plum cake including 60 eggs!

The cookbooks in the Duane Family Cookbooks collection are mainly attributed to Eliza Duane, Mary Wells, and Fanny T. Wells. The Duanes were a prominent New York family—descendants of James Duane (1733-1797), who was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, the first federal judge for the district of New York, a New York State senator, and the 44th mayor of New York City. To learn more about the Duane Family Cookbooks, read our latest blog post.

Historical recipes are available online now at nyhistory.org/recipe-week, and the Recipe of the Week will be shared in New-York Historical’s weekly e-newsletter.

The Duane Family Cookbooks were catalogued and conserved with important support from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York. The recipes are accessible from the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library.

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Tumblr.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan                                                               Marybeth Ihle
New-York Historical Society                             New-York Historical Society
Ines.aslan@nyhistory.org                                Marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org

Image credit: Selections from the Duane family cookbooks, 1840-1874. New-York Historical Society

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Creative: Tronvig Group