UVM’s Dairy School: Short and Intense Practical Training

For National Dairy Month, Silver Special Collections student assistant Michael Maloney (UVM 2022) writes about the UVM Dairy School, which began in 1891. His research was prompted by two early twentieth-century photos of Dairy School students that were recently donated to Special Collections.

The University of Vermont held an annual Dairy School program each winter starting in 1891. The Dairy School was typically four to six weeks in length and initially taught lessons on the practical manner of the manufacture of butter using the most modern apparatus for the job. By the fifth year of the program, it included lectures on the constitution and production of milk, creaming and churning, handling, and testing of milk products. The Dairy School was suspended during the winters of 1904 to 1907 while UVM constructed a new Agricultural Department building. Morrill Hall, completed in 1907, was fully furnished with modern equipment for Dairy School classes. After the Dairy School was reinstated in the winter of 1908, it continued with only minor changes to the program over the years until the late 1930s, when it ended due to a lack of demand.

Photograph of the UVM farm buildings, including left to right, the apiary, barns, creamery and dairy school, the greenhouse and the superintendent's house.

This 1901 photograph of UVM’s farm buildings includes the original creamery and dairy school (third from right). Source: Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Color postcards shows the front facade of Morrill Hall.

Morrill Hall, circa 1911.

Dairy school students in white uniforms stand in front of the Morrill Hall main entrance.

Class of dairymen in their official uniforms in front of Morrill Hall. Photo by B. Benton Barker, circa 1907-1913.

The Dairy School maintained throughout its operation that its purpose was to teach practical application and technical instruction, and the focus of the school was about business and not academic learning. The program was designed to meet a demand for an intense short and practical training lesson in the handling of milk and manufacture of milk products. Its goal was to teach how to manage a dairy enterprise of any sort and it was intended for those interested in butter-making at a creamery or at home, in the market milk industry as producer or handler, and for those who could not take one of the longer courses at UVM.

Photo of dairy school students working in a laboratory with an elaborate pulley system on the ceiling.

Students at work in dairy laboratory, circa 1919. Source: Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

The 1907/08 UVM course catalogue describes the equipment provided at Morrill Hall for the Dairy School: “The creamery equipment consists of several power separators, milk heater, Farrington pasteurizer, starter can, cream ripener, combined churn and workers, and multiple butter printer. The farm dairy room contains several hand separators, churns, workers, printers, etc. The milk testing lab has hand and power Babcock testers, an apparatus for determining total solids, acidity, taints, and the moisture content of butter. The market milk room has a pasteurizer, milk cooler, bottle filler, bottle washer and sterilizer. All machinery runs on two five-horsepower electric motors. A hot water boiler and fifteen-horsepower boiler furnish hot water and steam for the cleansing and pasteurizing.”

Morrill Hall basement floor plan, showing location of Farm machines, boiler room, separators, churn room, and cold storage for making butter.

Morrill Hall basement floor plan. Farm machines, boiler room, separators, churn room, and cold storage all for making butter. Source: 1906 Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Morrill Hall first floor plan shows offices, horticulture and dairy school spaces, including the dairy school pasteurization room, cheese room, and laboratory.

Morrill Hall first floor plan. Pasteurization room, cheese room, and laboratory used by Dairy School students. Source: 1906 Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Dairy School students in white uniforms working with buttermaking equipment in a laboratory.

Dairy men working in basement of Morrill Hall with modern butter making equipment. Photo by B. Benton Barker, circa 1907-1913.

In its later years, the Dairy School expanded to include a variety of winter courses focused more on general agriculture and home economics, and it eventually became part of UVM’s “Winter Short Courses in Agriculture.” Women were encouraged to come to the Dairy School as early as 1901/2. However, when the home economics program was introduced, they were strongly encouraged to take those courses instead. Course bulletins and newspaper articles still mentioned that women were welcome to take the dairy courses, but there was a clear emphasis encouraging women to participate in the home economics programs. The images below provide a general sense of the courses offered and a dairy school attendee’s day-to-day schedule. Students often went on excursions outside Burlington to visit technical plants, farms and Dairymen Association meetings.

Newspaper article announces the courses for the sixteenth session of the winter course in agriculture.

List of winter courses at UVM including creamery management and dairying courses. Source: Vermont Cynic, Jan. 5, 1911.

Newspaper article lists the daily schedule for the dairy school.

The daily schedule for dairy school students. Source: Vermont Cynic, December 30, 1908.



















Many of the dairymen, as they were called, found themselves in very successful careers after completing the program at UVM. For example, Oscar H. Perrin attended UVM Dairy school in 1896 and had a successful forty-year career in Charlestown, Massachusetts working as a dairyman for H. P. Hood. Another example is Mr. Gilmore, a graduate of the Dairy School who helped operate Ingleside Dairies in St. Albans, Vermont.

Newspaper advertisement for Ingleside Dairies, promoting the model creamery practices directed by Dairy School graduate Mr. Gilmore.

Ingleside Dairies advertises that “our milk…is rushed to our model creamery…and tested, pasteurized ad bottle under the direction of Mr. Gilmore, graduate of the University of Vermont Dairy School.”   St. Albans Daily Messenger, May 14, 1938.

Portion of newspaper article about O. H. Perring, a Dairy School graduate and 40-year employee of H. P. Hood.

With the “scientific training for the milk business” that he received at the UVM Dairy School, Oscar H. Perrin worked for the H. P. Hood dairy corporation for 40 years. United Opinion, April 3, 1936.

The UVM Dairy School and its history highlight the significance of the dairy industry in Vermont. As the state moved from traditional agriculture to more scientific and mechanized practices, UVM created programs that would help Vermont farmers succeed and thrive in the changing landscape. The dairy school helped teach dairymen how to use new technology, improve their business practices, and make new connections that helped grow the dairy farming industry during the first part of the twentieth century.

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Diaries of a Vermonter Teaching in China

UVM History students Sarah McAtee and Rhone Allison worked with Professor Erik Esselstrom and Chris Burns, Hannah Johnson, Dorothy Dye and Erin Doyle from Special Collections to transcribe four diaries from the Henry C. Brownell Papers. In this blog post, Sarah shares some excerpts from Brownell’s diaries.

Henry Chase Brownell was born in Burlington in 1887, graduating from the University of Vermont in 1908.  Henry and his wife, Jane, also a UVM grad, moved to China in 1908, where they both taught at Lingnan University in Canton (today called Guangzhou).  Henry and Jane were prominent members of the university, with Henry rising to Head of History and Dean of Men, and Jane serving as Dean of Women.  Henry and Jane Brownell spent a total of more than thirty years in China from the mid-1910s until the early 1950s.  When it became clear that Western ideals would no longer be accepted in China by Communist leadership, the Brownells returned to Burlington where they retired.  They were one of the last families to leave South China without difficulties.

Jane Brownell in a light colored dress stands next to her husband Henry who is wearing a shirt and tiee.

Henry and Jane Brownell, late 1930s

Henry Brownell’s diaries from 1938-39 and 1949-50 share details of his family’s life, politics, social impacts, and the university under Japan’s control of China as part of the Second Sino-Japanese War and during the Chinese Communist Revolution. Entries discuss everything from specifics about a rice harvest to issues with consuls to student activism, making it a very engaging look at an American professor’s experience in China during this period.

A woman wearing a hat and a man with an umbrella stand in from of a two-story house with a tile roof.

The Brownells’ home at Lingnan University

Below are a few excerpts from Brownell’s diaries that show the broad range of topics that Henry chose to write about.  Using the Transkribus software, we were able to copy down each line of text and type it out into an easier to read format.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.1939. Brownell writes about the price of rice in different areas.  The price is lower at Lingnan than in the city, but is only available for those who are associated with the university.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.1949. Students in campus dormitories were moved into a main hall, having to sleep on the floor in many cases to be in more protected quarters as explosions went off around campus.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.October 1949. Brownell describes a mass meeting of around 900 students where speakers praised students who did not flee the country and told them that the country will need their services, especially for translation.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page with a single line of text.April 1950. Some entries are as short as this one, while some go on for several pages.  In this entry, so much is wrapped up into one sentence, as Brownell reports that Hainan fell to the Communists in late April.

The Brownell diaries will be added to the UVM Libraries’ digital collection, Diaries, in the near feature.

Contributed by Sarah McAtee, Research Assistant, Department of History

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Special Collections Honors Women’s History Month With New Digital Collection

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are pleased to announce the launch of our latest digital collection, Diaries. The collection provides access to more than thirty digitized and transcribed diaries from the late eighteenth to early twentieth century, with three-fourths of the diaries authored by women.

The diaries in this collection were transcribed during the work-from-home portion of the Covid-19 pandemic by Special Collections staff (Ingrid Bower, Erin Doyle, Hannah Johnson, Sharon Thayer) and students (Ella Breed, Dorothy Dye, Ibrahim Genzhiyev, Tabitha Ireifej, Mike Maloney). In addition, transcription work on the Caroline Crane Marsh diaries built upon previous transcription work conducted by Mary Alice Lowenthal. The Special Collections team put an enormous amount of thought and effort into this work and what is now available online is a direct result of their labor along with, of course, the work of the original diarists themselves.

As a preview of the rich content you can expect to find in these diaries, below are brief descriptions of the women diarists, summaries of what they wrote about, and a sample entry from each. More detailed information is available within the online collection, along with the images and transcriptions of the diaries.

Genieve Lamson Diaries, 1908, 1909, 1910-1912

Genieve Amelia Lamson was born in Randolph, Vt. on April 29, 1887. Lamson graduated from Randolph High School in 1905. After graduation, she taught for four terms in Vermont district schools and for five years (until 1915) in high schools in Roselle Park, NJ and Springfield, Mass. Lamson completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Chicago, receiving her B.S. degree in 1920 and an M.S. in geography in 1922. She accepted a professorship at Vassar College in 1922 and taught in the geography department until her retirement in 1952.

Topics in Lamson’s diaries include teaching (as well as the process for becoming a certified teacher in Vermont circa 1910), travels to major cities of the West Coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle; turn-of-the-century fashion and home clothes-making, the sinking of the Titanic, turn-of-the-century slang, and the local history of Randolph, Vermont. In the passage below, Genieve writes of the last leg of her journey home, via the Canadian Pacific Railway, following a 1909 trip out west.

On the left, a handwritten diary entry for August 11, 1909. On the right, transcription of the diary page.

Mandana White Goodenough Diary, 1844-1846, 1860-1861

Mandana White was born on January 15, 1826 in Calais, Vermont. Between 1844 and 1845, she taught school in Marshfield and attended the Lebanon Liberal Institute in Lebanon, NH. She married Eli Goodenough in Calais on April 20, 1845, and the couple had four children that lived to adulthood: Myron Alonzo, Flora Gertrude (m. Whipple), Edward Tucker, and Charles Davis.

The Goodenoughs lived and worked on a large farm in Hardwick. After her husband’s death in 1860, Goodenough sold the family farm and purchased a smaller one in Walden, where she raised her four children. Topics in Mandana’s diary include employment opportunities for women in the 1840s, courtship and marriage, illness and death, and religious beliefs and practices in mid-nineteenth-century Vermont. Her entry for February 11, 1860, the day Eil died, is below.

Mary Susan Davis Kelley Diary, 1883-1893

Mary Susan Davis was born on January 10, 1866 in Fairlee, Vt. Davis grew up in a large household consisting of her parents, her three siblings, and her uncle. After she graduated from secondary school in 1884, Davis helped her mother at home and with taking care of the boarders who occasionally resided in their home; she also taught in local schools and occasionally performed housework and childcare for hire in other households in the community. Prior to her first marriage, Davis moved to Orange, Massachusetts, where she was eventually employed by shoe manufacturer Jay B. Reynolds as a skiver.

Topics in this diary include women’s health and other subjects relating to health and medicine; the experiences of working women circa 1890, turn-of-the-century courtship and marriages, and the local social and cultural history of Fairlee, Vermont. A page from her diary with two entries from August 1892, where she discusses her ill health, are below.

Mary Farnham Diary, 1862-1863

Mary Elizabeth (Johnson) Farnham was born in Bath, NH, on January 19, 1828. She came to Bradford with her parents at a young age and was educated at Bradford Academy and the Newbury Seminary. On December 25, 1849, she married Roswell Farnham (1827-1903) in St. Albans, Vermont. Farnham spent several months during the winter of 1862-63 in Union camps near Fairfax Court House and Wolf Run Shoals, VA, with her husband, who had been appointed Lieutenant Colonel and placed in command of the 12th Vermont Volunteer Regiment. Farnham returned to Vermont in April 1863 and her husband was discharged later that year, after which he entered into a career in politics.

Topics in Farnham’s diary include living conditions in Union camps and towns near the front lines, the roles and expectations of women during the American Civil War, Washington D.C. in the 1860s, mid-century modes of travel, and health and medicine during the Civil War. She writes in the March 16, 1863 passage below of some intriguing events involving the Confederate spy, Antonia Ford.

Caroline Crane Marsh Diaries

Caroline Crane was born on December 1, 1816 in Berkley, Massachusetts and was the eldest daughter of ten children. In 1839, Caroline married George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) and in 1861, her husband was appointed U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of Italy. The couple traveled to Europe that June in the company of Caroline’s niece, Caroline “Carrie” Crane. While in Italy, the Marshes took several sightseeing trips through northern Italy, southern France, Switzerland, and western Austria. They also moved several times to stay near the capital of Italy, which moved from Turin to Florence in 1865 and then to Rome in 1873. George Perkins Marsh died in 1882 at the Marshes’ home in Vallombrosa, and Caroline returned to the United States the following year, living with her nephew Alexander Crane and other relatives until her death on October 27, 1901.

The seventeen diaries (1861-1865) included in this collection document the Marshes’ day-to-day lives during their time in Italy, particularly during their stay in Turin. Topics include the American Civil War, race and slavery, Catholicism, European political and social relations, British-American political relations, Napoleon III and Second French Empire, King Victor Emmanuel II and Italian politics, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Italian nationalism, religious and funerary practices in Italy, the status and treatment of women in Italy and elsewhere, problems within and interactions between the Italian social classes, the experiences of Protestants, Jews, and rural peasants in Italy; health and medicine in Italy, Italian industries and agricultural practices, the Italian education system, the Italian language, crime and punishment in Italy, Italian fashion and etiquette, tourism and hospitality in Italy and the Alps, popular books and reading habits during the 1860s, George Perkins Marsh’s diplomatic and scholarly activities in Italy, and the everyday experiences of upper and lower-class Italians.

In the entry below, Caroline writes of their arrival in Turin and the death of Count Camilo di Cavour, the first prime minister of the kingdom of Italy.

We are thrilled to make available these transcribed diaries on our digital collections site and, in particular, to highlight the personal accounts of these five women. In addition, we have made available for download the full-text diary transcriptions as plain text and TEI XML files: https://cdi.uvm.edu/content/diaries-transcriptions.

The online publication of these diaries represents about half of our larger diaries transcription project. Stay tuned in the coming months for the publication of an additional thirty-plus diaries from Mary Jean Simpson and two diaries from Henry Brownell from his time in Japanese-occupied China in the late 1930s.

Submitted by Chris Burns, Interim Director, Silver Special Collections

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Portraits of Black Vermonters: The Hazard and Mero Families

To celebrate Black History Month, we are sharing portraits of the Hazard and Mero families of Woodstock, Vermont. Both families were part of the town’s small Black community that had roots extending back to the late 1820s. The collection includes a  tintype, studio portraits, and several 8 x 10 black and white prints. The studio portraits especially show the Meros and Hazards as they wished to be represented. Dressed for the occasion, they made their way to local photography studios. Special events, such as a christening or a graduation, may have prompted some of the photo sessions.

Fortunately, notes on the photographs identify each person. The brief biographies that accompany the photographs in the gallery below are based on information gathered from a wide range of sources, including census data, newspaper articles and obituaries, vital records, maps, gazetteers and directories, and print and online articles. Most of the photos are not dated, but we estimated date ranges for some based on the years when the photographers were active in Woodstock. The paper photos are pasted on stiff cardboard embossed with frames and decorations, often with a large border around the images. For this blog post, we cropped the borders to highlight the individuals.

A studio photograph shows an older Black woman sitting in an ornate chair. her hands are folded over a book in her lap.

Roxana Park, photographed by A. W. Perkins between 1910 and 1914.

Roxana Hazard Park (1828-1915). Roxana Park was born in Barnard, Vermont to Henry and Belinda (Lewis) Hazard on April 18, 1828. She married Henry Park in 1852. In 1866, they bought land on South Street in Woodstock where Henry farmed and bred cattle. Their daughter Cornelia, born in 1854, married Thomas Gilman Mero on March 1, 1882 in Woodstock. Thomas worked on the nearby Billings estate for 47 years. Thomas and Cornelia also lived in a house on South Street, where they raised four daughters: Julia Ann, Roxanna, Caroline and Rosetta.

This studio photograph shows a young Black woman standing next to a chair. She is wearing a hat, an embroidered top and a long pleated skirt.

Roxanna Mero

Roxanna Agnes Mero (1885-1929). Roxanna Mero, daughter of Thomas and Cornelia Mero, was born in Woodstock in 1885 and died in Waterbury 1929.

Studio photograph of a young Black woman seated in an elaborate chair. She is wearing a long dress with a high collar.

Carrie Mero, photographed by A. W. Perkins between 1910 and 1914.

Caroline (Carrie) Belinda Mero Ledeatt (1891-1943). The third daughter of Thomas and Cornelia Mero, Carrie Mero was born in Woodstock on September 10, 1891 and died in New York in February 1943. She graduated from Woodstock High School (1910), Burlington Business College (1915), and the College of the City of New York. She married Edmund Athill Ledeatt in 1918.

In November 1917, Carrie Mero was appointed secretary of the Ladies Division of the United Negro Improvement Association. When the UNIA organized in the United States in 1918, she was one of the directors who signed the certificate of incorporation. Carrie served as a clerk-stenographer for the UNIA and its shipping company, the Black Star Line. She contributed articles to the “Our Women” page in the UNIA’s Negro World advocating for gender equality and urging black women to be leaders and innovators.

In 1926, Carrie was the first Black typist/stenographer employed by the borough of Queens, where she worked until she transferred to the New York City Department of Welfare in 1939. Carrie’s obituary notes that she was an active member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Business and Professional Women’s Guild and the Merry Wives of Jamaica.

Studio photograph of a young Black woman sitting on a ledge in front of window. She is wearing a fancy white dress and may be holding a diploma.

Rosetta Mero, photographed by J. O. Stone, Woodstock. Stone bought and opened his studio in 1914, dating the photograph to 1914 or later.

Rosetta Elizabeth Mero (1898-1947). Rosetta Mero was born to Thomas and Cornelia Mero in Woodstock on June 2, 1898 and died in Jamaica, New York on March 20, 1947. A graduate of Woodstock High School, Rosetta worked at the Vermont Standard newspaper as a typesetter for several years before moving to New York in 1920 to work as a linotype operator. Her daughter Margaret was born in 1923. The 1930 census indicates that Rosetta was living in the family home in Woodstock. The 1940 census reports that Rosetta and Margaret lived with her sister Carrie and her family in New York and worked as a servant.

Studio photograph of a Black man and woman in front of a studio backdrop.

Allen and Martha Hazard

Allen Horace Hazard (1858-1950) and Martha Hazard (1863-1945). Allen Hazard was born about 1858 to James and Sarah (Talbot) Hazard, who lived on Prospect Street in Woodstock. As a young man, Allen worked as a mason for Tower Hazard in Harvard, Massachusetts. He married Tower’s daughter Martha in December 1879. They had four sons, including Alva (see below), and three daughters. Allen was a caretaker for the Hildreth estate in Harvard for 65 years. He died in 1950.

Studio portrait of a young black man wearing a suit and fancy tie.

Alva Hazard, photographed at the Park Studio in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Alva Edward Hazard (1884-1965). Alva Hazard was born December 22, 1884 in Harvard, Massachusetts to Allen and Martha Hazard. He married Julia Ann Mero  (1883-1941), the oldest daughter of Thomas and Cornelia and sister of Rosetta, Carrie and Roxanne, in 1910. They raised five children in Woodstock. Alva worked for over forty years as a caretaker for Dr. and Mrs. Fred Kidder. He died in Woodstock October 1, 1965.

Studio portrait of a young black child seated on a chair and possibly wearing a white christening outfit.

Elmer Hazard in April 1912, when he was ten months old.

Elmer Edward Hazard (1911-). Elmer Hazard was the first child of Alva Hazard and Julia Mero Hazard, born July 17, 1911. He died on September 16, 1913.

Two images of a Black man in middle age and old age. The younger man is wearing a suit and tie. The older ma is sitting on a porch smoking a pipe.

William F. Hazard. The photo on the left was taken by Arthur E. Spaulding between 1897 and 1907. The photo on the right was taken by Fred Woods. According to a note on the back, it shows William at 102.

William Frederick Hazard (1853-1958). William Hazard was born to James and Sarah (Talbot) Hazard on Nov. 6, 1853. He served in the Navy from 1869-1874. In 1893, articles in a number of Vermont newspapers reported that William was “the first convict to be released on probation in the history of the Massachusetts state prison. Hazard has had a good record as a prisoner and Gov. Russell determined to make an experiment of the case” (Vermont Phoenix, September 22, 1893). William married Amanda Dunbar the following year, and they had six children. In 1900, he was listed in the census as a teamster. He later worked as a farm laborer and Woodstock town employee. William was featured in Vermont newspapers for his status as the oldest Vermonter before his death at 105 in 1958.

Studio portrait of Black woman wearing a fancy white blouse and a bow or hat on her head.

Lizzie Lewis, photographed by Arthur E. Spaulding between 1897 and 1907.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hazard Lewis (1857-1931). Elizabeth Lewis was born in Woodstock March 4, 1857 to Austin and Rhoda Hazard and died there October 27, 1931.  She married Arthur Lewis in 1878. After Arthur’s death in 1909, she lived with her son Joseph (1879-1966) and her grandson Arthur in Woodstock.

Studio portrait of a young Black man in a suit.“Ozie.” Only the name “Ozie” is penciled on the photograph; we have not yet identified this family member. The photo was taken by J. O. Stone of Woodstock.

Sylvester Oriston Mero (1847-1919). The last photograph in the Hazard-Mero Family Photographs is a large tintype with a note on the back that says, “Believe this is Sylvester Mero.” We do not yet have a good copy we can include here.

Sylvester Mero was born to Hezekiah and Harriet Hazard in Woodstock on April 6, 1847. Thomas Mero, husband of Cornelia Park Mero was his younger brother. During the Civil War, Sylvester, along with two of his brothers, served in the Vermont Infantry and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The tintype image may have been taken at the same time, or in the same place, as a photograph of Sylvester’s oldest brother George. After the war, Sylvester returned to Vermont and worked as a farm laborer in Pomfret and Woodstock, a coachman in Rutland, and later a janitor in Worcester, Massachusetts. He died in Worcester in March 1919.

More about the Hazard and Mero Families

Contributed by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Hot Beef Tea…In Great Demand

Earlier this month, I shared a photo from our Burlington Photo Collection with Mark Bushnell for his article, Burlington’s Winter Carnival was a Smash Hit, in VTDigger. Shot from Church Street, the photo shows the Main Street coasting hill and spectators watching a traverse pull up to the finish line. We both noticed the sign to the left of the Coasting Club arch advertising “Hot Beef Tea.”

Phot shows the Main Street coasting hill, a traverse sled about to cross under the Coasting Club arch where spectators are gathered..

Photographer C. B. Hibbard documented Burlington’s first winter carnival in February 1886. The Burlington Coasting Club erected this grand arch at the foot of the Main Street coasting hill.

Although today we might expect a sign advertising hot chocolate, hot beef tea was a popular drink in the late 19th century, promoted for invalids, as a temperance alternative to alcoholic beverages and for refreshment. Burlington’s carnival organizers included refreshment stands as one of the event attractions. Reporting on carnival preparations on February 11, 1886, the Burlington Clipper reported, “The ice obelisk in the park is completed, and is draped with boards and blankets to keep off the sun. The first floor of the structure forms a good-sized room, which will probably be used for a beef tea restaurant.” On March 5, the Burlington Independent noted, “The beef tea and bouillon on sale at the slides and the coasting hill was in great demand last week, especially on Friday afternoon, during the cold wind storm.”

At least three businesses on Burlington’s Church Street advertised hot beef tea in winter months during the 1880s and 1890s. In December 1886, perhaps capitalizing on the carnival sales earlier in the year and looking ahead to an 1887 carnival, Zottman and Company, a drug store at 17 Church Street, advertised an apparatus that provided hot water and beef tea “in a surprisingly short time.” The tea was most likely quickly prepared from commercial beef extracts. Zottman & Co., praised as the best soda fountain in the state, promoted beef tea with a series of small advertisements.

Newspaper advertisement announcing Zottman's hot water fountain.

Zottman and Co. announced a hot soda fountain, Burlington Free Press, December 10, 1886.

Newspaper advertisement for hot drinks in cold weather.

Newspaper advertisement for hot drinks in cold weather.

Zottman and Co. advertised hot beef tea during cold weather, Burlington Free Press, December 13 (top) and 16 (bottom), 1886.

In 1888, Confectioner J. D. Tousley installed a new hot soda fountain and began serving beef tea along with other beverages farther south at 106 Church Street.

Newspaper advertisement for J. D. Tousley's hot soda fountain.

Advertisement in the Burlington Free Press, November 1888.

J. D. Kent, advertising as Kent the Confectioner, set up shop near Tousley at 101 Church street. In 1890, he promoted his hot drinks, highlighting BEEF TEA. His ad targeted “ladies out shopping,” assuring them that Kent’s was a pleasant place to rest and refresh.

Newspaper advertisement for Kent the Confectioner's hot drinks.

Advertisement for hot drinks, including beef tea, Burlington Free Press, January 1890.

We may not be able to find beef tea at Church Street candy stores today, but recipes for homemade beef tea abound in cookbooks and on internet recipe pages. I found the one below in my 1964 edition of the classic Joy of Cooking.

Contributed by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Wild Salad, Nettle Beer and the Mysterious Aristene Pixley

The fourth post in our series on cooking with recipes from our Vermont cookbook collection was contributed by Richard Witting, a UVM History graduate student as well as a chef, caterer and avid wildcrafter (forager).  He joined Special Collections staff member Ingrid Bower to explore cookbooks, gather wild ingredients, and test recipes.

Foraging for Recipes

On a hot day in mid-June after much anticipation, I walked into the Silver Special Collections Library for the first time. Giddy as a schoolboy, I was led to the cookbook section where, in the silence of the library, I was able to spend the next three hours examining culinary pamphlets and faded spiral bound community cookbooks that came from Vermont authors, small towns and churches, setting aside some, putting most back. Although I wanted to tarry longer on many of them, eager to look for the human stories and unique recipes within, I was after a specific type of recipe—those that used wild or foraged ingredients.

Sitting down at a table with a stack of books that looked to hold the most promise, I scanned the recipes. I had hoped the older cookbooks, from the later 1800s, might show some link to the foodways of early European settlers in Vermont but there was little there to be found. There were some Abenaki cookbooks, but that seemed like a special topic for another post.

Most of the plastic spiral bound community cookbooks from the 1960s hold many of the same recipes, reflecting the progress of national food trends (jello salads, meat balls, casseroles) or generic New England staples like boiled dinner, clam chowder, or American chop suey. Peppered throughout these cookbooks I did occasionally find a recipe using mostly familiar wild foods like fiddleheads, dandelions, and raspberries but also a few rarer ingredients like chokecherries, gooseberries and, surprisingly, a few recipes for pickled nasturtium pods.

Among these mostly rather droll community cookbooks however there was one book that, from the second I saw the title, I suspected would be more interesting: The Northeast Kingdom Cookbook: Recipes & Remedies from Vermont (1986). If there was anywhere I expected to find a cookbook with a regional character the NEK was likely to be it. Flipping through it, not only did I see numerous and creative recipes using wild edibles, but I also saw stories about the recipes and where they came from. Many were especially unique (Bluefish, Gin and Wine Flambé, Elderflower Blow ), some crass and funny (Thighs of Delight, Slut Biscuits) and some truly enigmatic (Shaggy Manes a la Ambiguity, Mystery Morsels).

Besides the rows of community and church cookbooks there were a few others, published roughly from the 1930s to the 1960s, that tried to represent— or invent—a unique regional Vermont culinary identity. A few of these I was familiar with, including the books by the fictional Mrs. Appleyard (Louise Andrews Kent), made popular by her column in Vermont Life magazine, and A Vermont Cook Book by Vermont Cooks, first issued in 1946 with its rustic, folksy, hand-painted wooden cover and reprinted numerous times over the next four decades.

However, there were a few more I had never seen, including one that jumped out to me. The Green Mountain Cook Book by Aristene Pixley (1934) has a lengthy introduction about Vermont character and cooking, as well as an extensive section on home brewed fermented beverages. Setting aside the rest of the stack I decided to hone in on The Northeast Kingdom Cookbook and The Green Mountain Cook Book.

Nettle Beer from Aristene Pixley’s The Green Mountain Cook Book

The Green Mountain Cook Book was published by the Stephen Daye Press in Brattleboro, famous for their New England nostalgia-focused books. Flipping through the book, I felt like it had a story to tell. While not wholly different from cookbooks of its era, interspersed are recipes using Gilfeather turnips—a uniquely Vermont variety—and recipes for bass, perch, pickerel and frogs legs. Most intriguing though, it contains an extensive list of unique beverages, including beef tea, flax seed lemonade, grape shrub, rhubarb wine, metheglin, elderberry beer, Vermont beer made from hops and molasses, spruce beer and nettle beer. Looking through this list, and considering the time of year, I knew that nettles could still be found, and what exactly nettle beer would taste like intrigued me.

Having done a decent amount of brewing in my life, the recipe raised a few questions for me as I came up with my plan for making it. First, I decided I did not need three gallons, so I decided to halve the recipe. Next, I would need some nettles. Luckily while visiting a friend in Huntington I was easily able to gather a pound of nettle crowns—with some thick gloves and scissors. Vermont has two types of nettles, wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), an indigenous variety that grows prolifically along river banks below the shade of cottonwoods and box elders, and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is an introduced species from Europe. Though both are edible, recipes usually call for the latter so that’s what I gathered.

I then boiled the nettles in a pot with some water. Looking ahead, the recipe calls for diluting the boiled concentrated nettle water. Not seeing what would be gathered by reducing it and then adding water, I used more water so the nettles stayed submerged during boiling. Having worked with herbs and teas, I didn’t see the point of boiling it for a lengthy time, as most of the essence would come out quickly from a tender plant like nettle,

Next I  combined the ingredients as instructed. It was unclear to me if the lemon rind would include the pith as well as the peel. I decided to go with just the peel so as not to make the brew overly bitter.

The cream of tartar in the recipe had me scratching my head wondering what purpose it served. Usually cream of tartar in used in baking, often with eggs to stiffen peaks. I emailed my friend Ricky Klein, who owns Groenfell Meadery, and asked him what he thought it would do in the recipe. He said cream of tartar is used for its semi sweet-sour flavor to add complexity to beverages. The internet also said it helped give a foamier head to drinks like root beer.

After mixing everything and letting it cool, I then had to add in a “yeast cake.” Yeast cakes, as far as I know, are an old-time unit of baker’s yeast. Not wishing to try and track down a yeast cake, and knowing that beverages brewed with baker’s yeast, rather than brewer’s yeast, just aren’t as good, I decided to use a package of champagne yeast I had on hand.

The recipe also calls for doing this all in a crock, something I don’t have in the correct size for this project. So instead, I used a jug with an airlock. But for authenticity, I made a smaller jar with a loose-fitting lid as well. Within an hour the nettle beer was bubbling along.

While waiting for the nettle beer to brew I couldn’t help but wonder who Aristene Pixley was. The name had a certain seelie-like ring to it that evoked deep green Vermont forests and shadowy mountains filled with ancient wisdom. In other words, it sounded like a pseudonym. Doing some quick googling I couldn’t find any birth or death records for an Aristene Pixley.

I did find a number of contemporaneous articles about the publishing of her cookbook. The Burlington Free Press noted that “Aristene Pixley, a former play-producer …has chosen this as her pen name. She is a Vermonter born and bred” (December 8, 1934). This confirmed that the name was a pseudonym, possibly to cover that the author might not pass muster, having spent some part of their life apparently as a big city flatlander.

The Bennington Evening Banner offered a more scathing review. “The author is Aristene Pixley, a nom de plume perhaps to save her from verbal chastisement from those reckless enough to try her recipes” (August 8, 1934). The writer’s criticism focused on some of the recipes, specifically a recipe for “kumyss,” a Turkic-Mongolian drink, that also had me wondering at how it got there; her directions for making metheglin, a spiced mead that she was apparently not making in a way that either Ira or Ethan Allen had; and lastly her pairing of brook trout with watercress when, according to the author, the season for those two does not coincide. Cowslips, he wrote, might be a more appropriate pairing. I would later discover that the author’s name, penciled in on the Silver Collections copy, was in fact Helen Elizabeth Tyler.

Two days later, when the recipe said I should bottle it, the nettle beer was still bubbling away at a rate that, if bottled, I knew would be a risk for bottle explosion. Three more days later, the bubbling had slowed to a reasonable rate and I felt I could bottle it. The beer had turned opaque and the green tone faded to a brown. Taking a small cup, I gave it a try. At this point the nettle beer didn’t really have that much to offer—a bit of a taste of ginger and yeast. Considering how many nettles went into this brew though, I imagine it must be filled with nutrients and that, perhaps like spruce beers which were high in vitamin C and prevented scurvy, nettles would serve a similar purpose.

Two weeks later, the wine had cleared, the sediment having fallen to the bottom, and the beer had an intriguing greenish rainbow hue to it. Tasting again, it had become more intriguing in its depth, slightly tart dry. It was still (not sparkling), so I added a little more sugar and rebottled it. I suspect in a few months of resting it might be further improved.

I would try this recipe again but with some changes. First, I would not dilute the nettles and would use more. Also, using sugar only creates a much flatter brew compared to using honey or malt — and if I wanted to get technical a beer is brewed from malted grains not sugar.  There’s also a chance that aging it will produce a better brew; usually two days of resting a drink gives you a very rough drink. Regardless of the end result, I found Aristene Pixley quite an intriguing character and enjoyed having a chance to try something new.

Northeast Kingdom Wild Salad

For my second recipe, I searched the Northeast Kingdom cookbook and found a recipe for Wild Salad with Boiled Dressing. It calls for red onion, spinach, purslane, dandelion leaves, lamb’s quarters and marigold petals, day lily blossoms* or squash blossoms. The directions are simple: “Wash all and carefully inspect for lurking protein (bugs). Spin or shake to remove excess moisture. Toss just before serving with boiled dressing. The purslane and lambs quarter provide a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet dressing.”

Feeling like this was a recipe where you have some flexibility with what you’ve got, I decided to get creative. Looking into my fridge, I found wild lettuce (lactuca virosa), sedum (yes, the kind in your garden), purslane and dandelion leaves. In addition, I picked day lily flowers, marigold leaves (only a few as they’re strong), marigold flowers and lamb’s quarters from my yard. I didn’t have spinach and used romaine instead. After washing and mixing, I started the boiled dressing.

The dressing recipe includes sugar, salt, ginger, water, egg yolks, vinegar and butter. I mixed the eggs with vinegar (I used cider vinegar) and I whisked it over a double boiler as it heated up. The recipe didn’t specify if I should warm the egg-vinegar mixture fully, then add the water-flour mixture, so I decided to add it while still warming up. As I kept whisking it got very foamy but didn’t thicken. The recipe then says to finish it by adding butter. My instinct said the butter should be melted first. Slowly pouring in the butter, the fat in it bound with the egg, vinegar, water, flour mixture and it quickly became a rather thick dressing with the consistency of mayonnaise.

After it cooled, I took a spoonful and mixed it in the salad, stirred it up and began eating. The salad dressing, which had tasted like an overly sweet and vinegary cheap store-bought salad dressing, mellowed out when paired with the strong, sour bitter greens. Additionally, as it was so thick, it didn’t make the salad have a wet feel to it which I thought was to its credit. Overall, I enjoyed the salad, but I wouldn’t say the recipe was anything I couldn’t have thought of myself. The boiled dressing, while an interesting experiment in cooking science, I don’t think I need to try again. That said, I think it could easily be adjusted to be a bit better, maybe with less sugar or maple syrup instead and a smaller amount of a different vinegar.

Note: Some people are allergic to day lilies, so eat with caution by trying them first from the same patch.  Make sure you use day lilies (genus Hemerocallis) and not the Asian lilies (genus Lilium).

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Consuelo Northrop Bailey, UVM ’21: A Political Trailblazer

Consuelo Northrop Bailey helped paved the way for Vermont women in politics. Her list of political firsts is impressive. Here we outline her long career and bring it to life with photographs from UVM’s Consuelo Northrop Bailey Papers.

Born in Fairfield, Vermont in 1899, Consuelo Northrop attended the University of Vermont (class of 1921) and law school at Boston University (class of 1925).

A portrait of Consuelo Bentina Northrop from the 1921 UVM yearbook including a short list of her extracurricular activities and interests, emphasizing athletics

Consuelo Northrop’s entry in the 1921 UVM yearbook

Returning to Burlington, Consuelo prepared for the bar exam while working in the office of Judge Alfred L. Sherman. (She passed that October and was sworn in in January 1926, becoming the seventh woman admitted to practice law in Vermont.) Only a few months after graduating from law school, Consuelo announced her interest in the position of Grand Juror for the City of Burlington. Coverage of her candidacy noted her legal degree, debate experience, and work as editor of the school’s legal journal. The City Council appointed her in September 1925. She was the first woman to serve in this role for the city.

In an interview on the day her appointment was announced, City Judge Clarence P. Cowles commented that it was “very fitting that we have a woman for Grand Juror” because their work “may be classed as a kind of social service” in which women are “naturally interested,” while the State’s Attorney would handle serious crimes and contentious courtrooms (Burlington Daily News, September 10, 1925). As grand juror, Consuelo prosecuted cases centering on a variety of issues such as speeding, possession of alcohol (during prohibition), disturbing the peace, and non-support of family dependents.

A formal portrait of Consuelo lightly leaning on the back of an armchair.

Consuelo Northrop circa 1930

There’s no shortage of irony in Judge Cowles’ statement, because Consuelo Northrop was elected State’s Attorney of Chittenden County in 1926 and reelected in 1928. She was the first woman to serve in this role in Vermont. After several years as a prosecutor, “the pendulum of public sentiment had swung so far away from the prohibition law that it was almost impossible to secure a conviction for any offense pertaining to the liquor traffic”[1]. It had also given her experience and insight into prospective legislation to address important issues. She was easily elected to the Vermont State Senate, representing Chittenden County, for a term lasting from 1931 to 1933, at a time when women were scarce in either chamber.


Another first came in 1933 when Consuelo, still actively working as a lawyer, was the first Vermont woman to be admitted to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to her other responsibilities,  Consuelo also worked as the personal secretary for U.S. Representative and Senator Ernest W. Gibson from 1931 to 1937 and thus spent part of the year in Washington, D.C. Somehow she found time to join The Little Congress, a debating organization made up of Congressional staffers and Capitol workers, who would consider issues before the real lawmakers, emulating their style and rules.

A photograph of eight adults (six women flanked by two men) standing shoulder to shoulder with the capitol building in Washington, D.C. in the background The men wear dark three piece suits with ties and hold their hats while the women wear skirts suits or long sleeved dresses, hats, and gloves.

Vermont members of The Little Congress. Consuelo is the fourth from right.

A formal portrait of a man wearing a suit and round glasses

Henry Albon Bailey circa 1930

Consuelo Northrop’s time in Washington came to an end in 1937 after experiencing dissatisfaction with the spending associated with New Deal programs and Democratic leadership in general. She returned to Vermont, where she established a private law office in Burlington. In 1940, she married Henry Albon Bailey (1893-1961). He was a fellow lawyer who had previously been Mayor of Winooski and had served in both chambers in the state legislature.

A lifelong supporter of the Republican Party, Consuelo was active in political campaigns as a speaker and successful fundraiser. She was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1936 to 1976. This meant a significant amount of travel across the country to garner support for various candidates as well as work on important subcommittees. She was a delegate to the national conventions in 1936 and 1944.

The 1950s were a very busy time for Consuelo, with service in multiple capacities with little to no break in between. In 1950, she ran unopposed for South Burlington’s seat in Vermont’s House and served from 1951 to 1955. Consuelo was chosen as Speaker in 1953, beating five male candidates, marking another first for women in Vermont politics.

A close up portrait of Consuelo with her right arm raised

Consuelo being sworn in as Speaker of the Vermont House in January of 1953. Her own caption notes that she “never was happier.”

In 1953, Consuelo became Vice Chair of the Republican National Committee and served until 1957. Also in 1953, she was appointed to the U.S. Post Office Advisory Board by President Eisenhower. Vice President Nixon performed the swearing in ceremony.

A group portrait showing several men wearing suits as well as Consuelo Northrop Bailey and President Eisenhower in the center. Everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. The President’s desk is visible in the foreground while two flags and several window treatments are apparent in the background.

Consuelo Bailey with President Eisenhower in the Oval Office

In 1954 Bailey became the first woman in the country elected Lieutenant Governor, having been the first Republican woman ever to run for the seat. This achievement made her the only woman, at that time, who had led both of their state’s legislative chambers.

Consuelo standing at a podium holding a wooden gavel.

Presiding over the Vermont Senate as Lieutenant Governor in 1955

A photograph of Richard Nixon, visible in an obscured profile, stood shaking hands with Consuelo Northrop Bailey in front of a light-colored curtain. She appears to be speaking and he is gently smiling; they are both making eye contact with each other.

Bailey chats with Vice President Richard Nixon.


Bailey continued to vigorously promote the Republican Party and its candidates. In 1956 and 1972 she was a Presidential Elector. During the conventions in 1968 and 1972, she was honored to call the roll of delegates during the voting process.

Retiring from the Republican National Committee in 1973, Bailey focused on writing her autobiography, Leaves Before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter and was able to complete the manuscript before her death in 1976.



[1]Bailey, Consuelo Northrop. Leaves before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter. Burlington, Vt.: G. Little, 1976: 166.

Learn more about Consuelo Northrop Bailey

  • Consuelo Northrop Bailey
    Exhibit created by Professor Melanie Gustafson’s students in HST095: American Women’s History.
  • Consuelo Northrop Bailey Papers, Silver Special Collections, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. Finding aid.
  • Bailey, Consuelo Northrop. Leaves before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter. Burlington, Vt.: G. Little, 1976.

Contributed by Erin Doyle, Manuscripts and University Archives Assistant

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Sweet and Rich: Maple Pie

When we developed an outline for a series of blog posts on making recipes from Vermont cookbooks, we quickly agreed that we should feature maple recipes in March, and more specifically, we should bake pies to celebrate Pi Day on March 14.

We found an abundance of maple pie recipes in cookbooks dedicated to maple, in community cookbooks, and in cookbooks written by chefs and food writers. One of the oldest, Maple Sugar Cook Book, was published by the Vermont Maple Sugar Exchange in 1888 to promote the use of pure Vermont maple sugar and syrup in everyday cooking. The Maple Exchange ran a contest to gather recipes and selected the best for the small 43-page cookbook. The collection includes 28 pie recipes, mostly fruit pies sweetened with maple sugar. In contrast, the 30 pie recipes in the Vermont Maple Festival’s 2005 Maple Cookbook mostly call for syrup. Maple sugar, despite the hopes of the Maple Exchange members, has become a luxury ingredient that is harder to find.

Handwritten maple pie recipe on the right and a published version on the left.

After eating an outstanding maple pie at the 2003 Vermont History Expo, Special Collections staff member Ingrid Bower asked the baker for the recipe (left). The 2005 Vermont Maple Festival cookbook confirms that the recipe is a winner (right).

We discovered that bakers take different approaches to maple pie. The sweetener might be 100 per cent maple syrup, but it could also be maple sugar or syrup combined with brown sugar. Some recipes require baking, while others use a cooked custard in a prebaked shell. In Real Old-Time Yankee Maple Cooking (1969), Beatrice Vaughan offers a no-bake Maple Chiffon Pie that relies on gelatin to produce a rich dessert. There are pies with nuts, usually walnuts, and without. One of the maple pie recipes in The Common Ground Dessert Cookbook (1998) substitutes finely ground sunflower seeds for nuts. While most recipes call for a white flour crust, the Common Ground maple pies use a whole wheat pastry crust and several recipes called for a crumb bottom crust or a crumb top layer.

Some ingredients were unexpected. A number of recipes add small amounts of vinegar because, as Mapletown’s Vermont Maple Syrup Cookbook explains, “it cuts the sweetness and brings out the maple flavor.” One of the two recipes in Westford’s Treasured Recipes includes oatmeal and coconut, a variation that popped up surprisingly often. An unorthodox frozen Maple Nut Mousse Pie in the Official Vermont Maple Cookbook calls for the typical syrup, eggs, and walnuts but uses a ready-made chocolate cookie pie shell, non-dairy whipped topping and shavings of semi-sweet chocolate.

Librarians Jeff Marshall and Prudence Doherty volunteered to select recipes and bake the pies this month. Here are their sweet reports.

Jeff Marshall: Making a Maple Cream Pie

I’ve been baking pies for a long time—since before I discovered it’s a great way to win friends and influence people—but I’ve never attempted a maple cream pie until last weekend.  There are many variations within the hundreds of Vermont cookbooks so I chose a fairly simple one at random: Minnie Neun’s recipe in Northfield Now and Then: Cookbook (compiled by Betty S. Piper and others for Northfield Community Enterprises, 1970).

Minnie’s recipe uses a cup of milk, not cream, which should be heated up in a double boiler with an equal amount of dark maple syrup (nowadays “dark” is always paired with “robust flavor”).  To help thicken the mixture, a separate mixture of 3 heaping tablespoons of flour, 2 egg yolks, a teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of salt is added to the hot milk & syrup mixture.  The egg mixture, I found, needs some careful mixing to avoid flour lumps.  Once this is cooked to the desired thickness a tablespoon of butter and a dash of black pepper are added, and the mixture is poured into a previously baked shell.

A pie with a meringue crust on a counter.I found the instructions for the meringue topping insufficient for someone who has never made it before, so I looked up a recipe to be sure I was doing it right.  Once topped, the pie goes into the oven at 350o just long enough to brown the meringue peaks.

The result: a very tasty, very mapley pie—“amazing!” as my co-taster remarked.  I found that the filling doesn’t “set” much after it cools off, so my pie turned out just a bit runny.  The black pepper adds a surprising dimension to the flavor that I found pleasing, though it is probably best to use well-ground pepper if you want to avoid that unexpected pepper spike.

A slice of maple pie on a green plate.

Prudence Doherty: Shaker Boiled Cider Pie

I picked the Shaker Boiled Cider Pie recipe from the 2001 edition of Ken Haedrich’s Maple Syrup Cookbook, attracted by his praise for a “rich maple-apple custard with a very thin layer of meringue on top.” After reading Mrs. G. W. Winchester’s recipe for boiled cider pie in the 1888 cookbook mentioned above—”piece of butter size of a walnut, one egg, two crackers, five tablespoons maple sugar, three or four of boiled cider according to strength, little nutmeg”—I was glad to follow the detailed instructions of a modern recipe.

I used boiled cider made in Springfield, Vermont since 1882 by the Woods family. The syrup was graded as dark color with robust taste, described by many as exhibiting caramel undertones. For the crust, I used Haedrich’s Flaky Butter Crust recipe, which includes a small amount of lemon juice and calls for freezing the pastry before filling it with the custard. I appreciated that I only needed to heat the syrup, the cider and two teaspoons of butter until the butter melted—no stirring until thick—and then whisk in the egg yolks and fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

The pie had a great flavor, sweet and tangy, and we could definitely detect apple from the boiled cider and caramel from the syrup. Sadly, the pie was just too sweet for me. We topped second slices with vanilla ice cream, which helped balance the sweetness. Like Haedrich, we preferred the pie after it had been refrigerated.

Pie with a dark meringue top sitting on a counter.

The recipe includes a helpful note about how dark the top of a boiled cider pie is when baked. This one is perhaps extra dark, because the recommended 40 minutes of baking time proved to be a little long in my oven.

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Baking with Substitute Flours: A Patriotic Sacrifice

When I encountered the 1918 UVM Extension Circular No. 13, “Substitute” Breads, Biscuits and Muffins, I knew I had found the topic for my first post in our year-long Vermont cookbook series. I started substituting whole wheat flour for white when baking bread as a college student in the early 1970s, and over the years have tried many multigrain bread recipes. I was intrigued with Vermont’s responses to the U. S. Food Administration’s wheat conservation efforts during World War I, when wheat (white) flour was needed to feed the troops and starving allies in Europe.

Before Vermont bakers could replace wheat flour in their baked goods, they needed supplies of substitute flours. The August 9, 1918 issue of the Essex County Herald (published in Island Pond, Vermont) included a short article on corn flour, reporting that during the last 18 months, the industry increased its output of corn flour 500 percent to meet the demand by converting wheat-milling machinery into corn-milling machinery.

Newspaper advertisement for Saturday Cash Special's at Leary's Grocery, including cereals, meat, and different kinds of flour.

Source: Burlington Free Press, June 21, 1918

Newspaper advertisement for substitute flours and sugar substitutes for sale at John Dunn's cash stores.

Source: Rutland Daily Herald, September 4, 1918










Vermont grocers ran advertisements in newspapers around the state to let bakers know that substitute flours were available. Dunn’s Cash Store stocked all the wheat flour substitutes as well as sugar substitutes, including maple flavor Karo (corn syrup) and Vermont maple syrup and sugar. Leary’s Grocery at the corner of King and Pine Streets in Burlington offered wheat flour mixed with substitute grains for $0.43 per 5-pound bag and white and yellow corn flour for less at $0.31 per bag. A 24.5-pound bag of barley flour was a bargain at $1.70.

The campaign to conserve wheat included a variety of educational initiatives, including newspaper articles, demonstrations and speaking tours, and wide dissemination of recipes. Bertha M. Terrill, professor of home economics at the University of Vermont and State Director of Home Economics for the U.S. Food Administration, led the educational efforts in Vermont in 1918.

A large number of seated women watch a woman in an apron and baker's hat prepare a recipe using ingredients laid out on a table in front of her. A table of food samples separates the audience from the cook.

Baking without wheat demonstration at the Vermont Milk Chocolate Factory in March 1918.

Terrill and others arranged cooking demonstrations in factories, at club meetings and in the home economics facilities at UVM. In March, the Civics Department of the Klifa Club, UVM Extension and the U. S. Food Administration sponsored a demonstration at the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company in Burlington. Just before closing, Mrs Julia Dimock demonstrated preparation techniques and distributed recipes and samples to nearly 100 young women. On a Saturday in April, Terrill led a demonstration on substitute cereals at UVM’s Morrill Hall. She assured the audience that making substitutions was comparatively easy. She made and then shared muffins, buckwheat bread, gingerbread and even rarebit (hot cheese sauce) on rice cakes to prove that the results could be delicious. A demonstration at Morrill Hall the following week focused on substituting potatoes for cereal grains.

Terrill shared recipes for baking with substitutes through newspapers, a small cookbook, and UVM Extension publications. Acknowledging that “The present emergency brings its increased problems to every housekeeper because of the higher prices and desire to use supplies to the best advantage,” the Home Economics Club at UVM published Some Thrift Recipes under Terrill’s direction. Introducing a section on substitute breads, the club members assure cooks, “The results from the recipes below are as light and fine-grained as wheat breads, have a delicious flavor and are more healthful.” The Silver Special Collections copy of Some Thrift Recipes was originally part of the Bertha M. Terrill Memorial Library, and is signed “Bertha M. Terrill 1917-1918.”

Terrill’s UVM Extension circular, “Substitute” Breads, Biscuits and Muffins, provides many more recipes and more detailed guidance about baking with substitute grains. Terrill explains why wheat and rye are superior for yeast breads and why baking powder is a better leavening agent for substitute grains.  While the recipes include some wheat and substitute flour combinations, Terrill promoted recipes using substitute grains only. The results would be delicious and wholesome, she said, and “give opportunity to be 100% patriotic by using 100 percent wheatless materials.” She acknowledged that the substitute flours cost more than wheat, but reminded Vermonters, “We are asked to regard this as one of the costs of war.”

Four muffins on a white plate.

Corn flour and buckwheat muffins.

I made three of Terrill’s recipes from the Extension circular using corn flour, buckwheat flour, and rolled oats. I had buckwheat flour and rolled oats in my cupboard, but when I could not find corn flour in Burlington-area stores, I ordered it online. I followed Terrill’s advice and stuck to recipes calling for baking powder, choosing buckwheat and corn muffins, corn flour biscuits, and oat and corn flour bread. The muffins had a great flavor and a nice texture and were very hearty. The recipe called for just 1 tablespoon fat and 1 tablespoon sugar or 2 tablespoons of syrup, but the next time I make them (I still have lots of corn flour), I will use a bit more of both. After a day, the leftover muffins were a bit dry, but split and toasted, we agreed with Terrill that they “could hardly be distinguished from freshly baked.” We liked the flavor of the bright yellow corn flour biscuits and the quick bread (four tablespoons of maple syrup), but each had texture problems: the biscuits were dense and the bread crumbled easily.

In my enthusiasm for the substitute grains project, I also purchased white and brown rice flour. I look forward to trying Terrill’s recipes for muffins and quick breads that combine rice flour with rolled oats, buckwheat flour or barley flour.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Pullin’ in the New Year!

Ingrid Bower continues our cookbook series with a post about making molasses taffy.

December is generally known as a time to gather and celebrate with friends and family. It is a time when even mageirocophobes (those with a fear of cooking) break out the measuring cups and cookie sheets from the depths of their kitchen cabinets to recreate the cookies and candies that their grandmothers used to make. My kitchen is no different.

In pre-COVID years, I have spent hours in the kitchen preparing one to two dozen different types of cookies and candy to share with my wonderful neighbors who generously allow us to run our sled dogs or graze our sheep on their properties. This year was different. I purchased “safe,” boxed chocolates for my neighbors and made only a few batches of cookies for the family. But this tradition of sugary neighborliness did lead me to a subject for our second Vermont cookbooks post.

Handwritten entry on a diary page dated September 5, 1909

Lamson’s Sept. 5, 1909 diary entry describes a very busy Sunday, concluding with “… then we made pulled candy, awfully good.”

The inspiration for the late December experiments in my kitchen came from the diaries of Genieve Lamson that we transcribed as part of our pandemic transcription project. Genieve Amelia Lamson was born in 1887 to Whitcomb E. and Hannah A. Lamson of Randolph, Vermont. She traveled widely and was well educated. She taught at Vassar College among many other career ventures, but eventually returned to her family home where she lived until her death in 1966. Lamson was a prolific diarist, and our Genieve Lamson Papers include her diaries from 1908-1910. The diaries illustrate the relatively carefree, socially active life of a young woman at the turn of the century. She was an avid baker and candy maker and attended many parties, some of which included “candy-pulls.”

My interest was piqued by these candy pulls. As I dug deeper, I found that they were popular party activities in the nineteenth century and had several resurgences in the twentieth century.  In some cases the candy pull was also a courting activity where sweethearts could pair up and get close in a socially acceptable way.

Genieve Lamson attended or hosted several candy pulls for both “white candy” and molasses in 1908 and 1909, so once I decided to make taffy, my search for recipes in our Vermont cookbook collection focused on approximately that time period.  The 1891 Ladies’ Aid Society of the Universalist Parish of Bellows Falls cookbook and the 1902 Crystal Lake Cook Book from the Barton Women’s Literary Club have appealing and seemingly authentic recipes of the time, and so the fun began.

Cook stirs a pot on a stove holding the boiling molasses mixture and a thermometer.

Boiling the molasses mixture to the proper temperature and consistency.

We started with the 1891 recipe, which is basically just a list of ingredients with very brief instructions:  “Two cups molasses, one cup sugar, one tablespoonful vinegar, butter size of walnut; boil twenty minutes, then add one teaspoonful [baking] soda; cool and pull.”  Being uneasy with these minimal directions, we found a modern molasses candy recipe. Using a candy thermometer we were guided to about the correct temperature in those twenty minutes.

Since we had no idea how long we should cool the molten candy we again turned to the modern recipe, which led us astray a bit and we tried to work the candy too soon, causing a portion of it to harden to the sides of the pan like concrete. The salvaged portion cooled properly and as we pulled and folded and pulled over and over again, the color changed from a dull brown to an attractive metallic bronze and the consistency changed from somewhat brittle to soft and taffy-like. We twisted the long cords of candy together and cut them into bite size pieces and then wrapped them in waxed paper to share.  As to taste, reviews were mixed.  I loved it!  But I enjoy the flavor of molasses.  Those who are not molasses fans did not care for this candy.

Family members dispaly pulled taffy.

Pulled taffy!

A week later we tried the 1902 recipe, which calls for much less molasses and provides more detailed instructions. The temperature of this batch rose much more quickly than the last and caught us off guard and we allowed it to get to too high a temperature. We did succeed in cooling it properly, so, though the candy was more brittle than it should have been, the pulling was more successful.  The flavor of this batch was much milder, like a “Werther’s Original,” and was a big hit with all who tasted it.

Cut pieces of pulled taffy on wax paper

Cut pieces of taffy waiting to be sampled and then wrapped in wax paper.

Due to COVID, having a candy pull party was a bit tricky, but, following the Governor’s guidelines, we included a “trusted family” in the creation of our second batch, so that our experience felt somewhat authentic. It was a lot of fun to include this historic aspect of gathering and neighborliness and I hope to continue this tradition for years to come.


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