The Evanston Community Kitchen

A food memoir about women in the kitchen and history in the making. Food = Story.


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Geeking Out Foodie Style

I geeked out last night organizing my Trapper Keepers (I am an 80’s child so they will always be Trapper Keepers to me). I bought three binders, the largest I could find. I bought divider tabs, folder divider tabs, plastic protective sleeves, index cards, and just about every organization tool I could get my hands on. I do have a lot of information to process and synthesize. At times, I have been frustrated that this project is taking so long, but I always have to come back to the fact that the story has to simmer. It takes time. This is brown rice people. It is worth the hour on the stove.

But when it flows, it flows. I have surges (and because I am a mom to young child, these surges usually take place at night). And last night, I only meant to clean off my desk that had open binders, sticky notes, index cards, pencil shavings, books, and a sea of other historic time period items.  I have a book that contains material from 1921 and it is so delicate that when I open the book, scraps of paper flurry onto my desk. I received it through an inter-library loan. I have a helper I have enlisted at the local library. His name is David and he has helped me gather many newspaper articles and books through inter-library loan requests. He has been so helpful that he will surely make the acknowledgement page.

“I had already done a lot of research for Rough Riders, keeping notebooks and old photographs. Some of the books were antiques for that time period, with the covers falling off.” – Tom Berenger 

It feels like I am living in the early 20th century as I am so deep in the research as my focus (and obsession) has been the Community Kitchen.

My husband said the other day, “I appreciate your passion and enthusiasm, but I am Community Kitchened out.”  Oh my, I thought, even my husband has had enough of this story. But you see, I will never have enough of it until it is written and bound in a book. It fascinates me. It takes me on jaunts and journeys to 1880 Spokane, where my great-grandmother was a teacher. Then I hop on a steam train with my great-grandfather heading West to Spokane from C armargo, Illinois. It take me to 1906 Texas where my great-aunt Harriet and grandma are dressed in Mother Hubbards — a red one for Juney and a blue one for Harriet, where they help their grandmother churn the butter.

Image Source: http://www.mamalisa.com

Image Source: www.mamalisa.com

It takes me to 1926 New York City where my grandmother is the manager at one of Alice Foote MacDougall’s tea rooms. It takes me to 1943 Smith College where Mary Liz can’t come home for her Granny Dell’s funeral because of the war. You see, The Community Kitchen is my stage coach back in time. My 1920 Ford. It is my ticket to see my family’s shows and acts. I love it. I can’t get enough of it.

The story of the Community Kitchen, which evolved from an Evanston Woman’s Club food conservation committee in 1918, has so many other stories embedded in the tapestry of American history and family history. There are recipes, stories, and love surrounding this tale. And I am a happy chef in my kitchen of words, memories and translations of text my ancestors wrote, leaving me clues to tie a bigger story together.

Sometimes (OK, a lot) I take out my index cards, which are filled with dates, facts, and anecdotes, and look them over. This gives me great comfort and joy as I have chronicled 1880 well past 1951. I have three binders full of research, which I have organized. The story is taking on a good shape – a shape of its own. The bread is rising and the scent is sweet.

Being alone, while everyone sleeps, gives me great joy. I would rather research and write than go out on the town. I become entranced at night, usually staying up until well past midnight. My son starts pre-school this week so I will have to start going to bed earlier. I will do my writing during the day. But I have to admit that the night is much more alluring as I feel it provides a more daring environment and less distractions.

On that note — good night. I am up well past midnight again.

Today’s treat and tea — I transcribed (retyped) a letter written on my great-grandfather’s business letterhead to my great-grandmother’s (Granny Dell) sister in Connecticut dated May 1896.  I wrote 6,000 words as well. I also had ice cream for dinner.

Sneak peek for this week’s post about the excitement of  coming upstairs from the basement research room when the Dawes House (Evanston History Center) was empty. It was like stepping back in time. This week’s post will focus on the kitchen at the Dawes House. If you are enjoying Downton Abbey like me, then you will enjoy this week’s post.

Kitchen at the Charles Dawes house (Evanston History Center)

Kitchen at the Charles Dawes house (Evanston History Center)


Archival Research: Jaunts and Voyages — A Ticket to a Mansion, the Titanic and Charlotte Russe

Here I am holding The Community Kitchen archive files in the research room in the basement of the Evanston History Center.

20130724_153231

It was a delicious treat to sort through the files related to The Community Kitchen while I was at The Evanston History Center in July. I touched the same scrapbook my great-grandmother assembled, which showcased the numerous articles written by magazines and newspapers. It was so delicate, frayed bits of newspaper crumbling in my hands — little bits of weathered, yellow-with-time paper created a flurry of history snowflakes. It was a very delicate process indeed. I exaggerate. It was not that bad, but the original newspaper articles from almost 100 years ago were quite delicate. The scrapbook that my great-grandmother pasted in the articles cost $.10.  As I looked through the scrapbook, I thought of my great-grandmother pasting them in, with a proud gallant heart. I could only imagine she giggled with delight (although I doubt my great-grandmother giggled).

I took a research class in graduate school (East Carolina University). I admit, at the time of the class, archival research seemed dry and a bit boring. I now think research and archives are the most fascinating thing. I love putting on the white gloves (you must wear white gloves when touching archive photos) and taking jaunts through back in time.

jaunt: (n.) a short excursion or journey for pleasure.

I do not believe my research to be jaunts; they start that way. Then they turn into voyages, traveling across continents, decades and even centuries. History is a wonderful thing.

I just wish I lived closer to Evanston as I have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. If I lived closer to Evanston, I would be in the research room every chance I could. The Evanston History Center is quite beautiful.

This house is even more exquisite inside.
The Evanston History Center. This house is even more exquisite inside.

And I promise to post more photos soon. But if you would wish to get your how-the-aristocrats-in-America-lived fix, see this post on my Community Kitchen Tumblr site. I do post more time period photos and tidbits regularly there. So, if you look at this photo and are not local to Evanston or the area, go to the left, dare not to step on the manicured lawn, and walk down (skip if you delight as I often felt like skipping while I was there) the sidewalk on the left and you will see a staircase. This staircase will lead you down into the research room, which is in the basement. OK. I can see you would like a photo.

This is the entrance to the research room at the Evanston History Center.
This is the entrance to the research room at the Evanston History Center.

Speaking of icebergs, who is watching Downton Abbey. Oh my! I am so excited about that show. I watched part of an episode with my brother-in-law (he is a history enthusiast), in the middle of season three and thought, “Oh how dreary and dry.”  Then I gave it a second chance and watched it from the beginning. Well, I am on Season 3 and have been longing to watch it every waking minute (when I am not working on the Community Kitchen project or spending time with my family). Even so, how delightful a series.  And I admit, I long to watch it even when I am working on the CK project and spending time with my family. I am completely addicted. Soon, I will be caught up to the end of Season 3, and will wait like a proper lady for the start of Season 4 in January 2014.

Guess who made Charlotte Russe?  Well, of course you know Ethel made it for the girls at the luncheon at Isobel Crawley’s home (I will not put in the spoiler and tell you why she had the luncheon for the Crawley ladies made it).

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham I love her!
Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
I love her! Photo Source: Pinterest — Downton Abbey Cooks

But Charlotte Russe was also on the menu as a dessert at The Community Kitchen.

Well, Lady Megan needs to go write and research. research and write.

If you are new to this blog, read this (historic background of Community Kitchen) and this (my connection to the Community Kitchen) to familiarize yourself with the origins of the this historic food memoir project.

What are some of your favorite dishes on Downton Abbey or historic time period recipes?

Food = Story.


Archival Research: Jaunts and Voyages — A Ticket to a Mansion, the Titanic and Charlotte Russe

Here I am holding The Community Kitchen archive files in the research room in the basement of the Evanston History Center.

20130724_153231

It was a delicious treat to sort through the files related to The Community Kitchen while I was at The Evanston History Center in July. I touched the same scrapbook my great-grandmother assembled, which showcased the numerous articles written by magazines and newspapers. It was so delicate, frayed bits of newspaper crumbling in my hands — little bits of weathered, yellow-with-time paper created a flurry of history snowflakes. It was a very delicate process indeed. I exaggerate. It was not that bad, but the original newspaper articles from almost 100 years ago were quite delicate. The scrapbook that my great-grandmother pasted in the articles cost $.10.  As I looked through the scrapbook, I thought of my great-grandmother pasting them in, with a proud gallant heart. I could only imagine she giggled with delight (although I doubt my great-grandmother giggled).

I took a research class in graduate school (East Carolina University). I admit, at the time of the class, archival research seemed dry and a bit boring. I now think research and archives are the most fascinating thing. I love putting on the white gloves (you must wear white gloves when touching archive photos) and taking jaunts through back in time.

jaunt: (n.) a short excursion or journey for pleasure.

I do not believe my research to be jaunts; they start that way. Then they turn into voyages, traveling across continents, decades and even centuries. History is a wonderful thing.

I just wish I lived closer to Evanston as I have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. If I lived closer to Evanston, I would be in the research room every chance I could. The Evanston History Center is quite beautiful.

This house is even more exquisite inside.

The Evanston History Center. This house is even more exquisite inside.

And I promise to post more photos soon. But if you would wish to get your how-the-aristocrats-in-America-lived fix, see this post on my Community Kitchen Tumblr site. I do post more time period photos and tidbits regularly there. So, if you look at this photo and are not local to Evanston or the area, go to the left, dare not to step on the manicured lawn, and walk down (skip if you delight as I often felt like skipping while I was there) the sidewalk on the left and you will see a staircase. This staircase will lead you down into the research room, which is in the basement. OK. I can see you would like a photo.

This is the entrance to the research room at the Evanston History Center.

This is the entrance to the research room at the Evanston History Center.

Speaking of icebergs, who is watching Downton Abbey. Oh my! I am so excited about that show. I watched part of an episode with my brother-in-law (he is a history enthusiast), in the middle of season three and thought, “Oh how dreary and dry.”  Then I gave it a second chance and watched it from the beginning. Well, I am on Season 3 and have been longing to watch it every waking minute (when I am not working on the Community Kitchen project or spending time with my family). Even so, how delightful a series.  And I admit, I long to watch it even when I am working on the CK project and spending time with my family. I am completely addicted. Soon, I will be caught up to the end of Season 3, and will wait like a proper lady for the start of Season 4 in January 2014.

Guess who made Charlotte Russe?  Well, of course you know Ethel made it for the girls at the tea party (I will not put in the spoiler and tell you why she made it).

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham I love her!

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
I love her!

But Charlotte Russe was also on the menu as a dessert at The Community Kitchen.

Well, Lady Megan needs to go write and research. research and write.

What are some of your favorite dishes on Downton Abbey or historic time period recipes?  Food = Story.


Mozart Cafe is Now Current Location of The Community Kitchen

I am very excited to have coffee at 600 Davis Street this morning. The Mozart Cafe is located there now. I will be having coffee with both granddaughters of Elizabeth Odell. Ginny and Mary Liz are the daughters of Harriet Odell Price, whom wrote the Odell family history I mention in “About the Author” page on this website (see “About the Author” tab at the top of the page on this website for more info.
“Aunt Harriet” as we referred to her was my grandma’s sister. I was nine years old when Aunt Harriet passed away. My memories of her are deep within my mind, made up of regular trips to the North Shore area and Evanston, as I grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton.

I remember vividly sitting with Aunt Harriet eating ginger snaps.

Watching my grandma and Aunt Harriet as a child I had no idea, of course, of their connection to the Community Kitchen. If so, I certainly would have my notebook out and say, “Let’s start at the beginning ladies.”

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Photo by Megan Oteri: July 23, 2013 at The Charles Dawes House — The Evanston History Center

I am thankful to Aunt Harriet for writing and researching the Odell family.  Her words and spirit spill over with great light and inspiration as I embark on the great task of writing the story of The Evanston Community Kitchen, a historic slice of Evanston and American Women’s History.

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Photo by Megan Oteri: Evanston History Center Sign

I leave you with photos I took yesterday with my phone. When I return to North Carolina next week, I will post more photos I took with my digital camera. I am mostly writing posts here from my phone.

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That’s me.

Right across the street from the Evanston History Center is beautiful Lake Michigan.

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Park bench at Charles Dawes Park, across from Evanston History Center

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Questions I’d Ask My Grandmother Now

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Questions I'd Ask My Grandmother Now

I wish I could go back in time and ask my grandmother a million questions.

I do remember asking her when I was nine years old, as she sat with her legs crossed like she has in the photo, on the tan plaid couch in our living room with brown thread stitching, “Why do your boobs sag, Grandma?” I remember being very curious why they hung so low.

She was so kind. She laughed a little at my blunt nature and smiled, as if she understood my bluntness from her own experience. She was a straight shooter. I loved that about her.

My dear Megan, “We had to wear corsets when I was young.”

“What are corsets?” I asked curiously.

“They were uncomfortable, but squeezed everything in. You should be happy you will never have to wear one.”

I miss my grandma, but I feel closer to her as I research her life and her mother’s life through The Community Kitchen. My mother recently passed away. She was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery July 1. Her inurnment ceremony was beautiful. Her ashes were joined with my father’s who passed in 2003.

I will be going to Evanston this week to conduct on-site research at the Evanston History Center. I received a Regional Artist Project Grant funded through the North Carolina Arts Council, Pitt Council Arts Council, and the Wilson Arts Council for travel expenses. I am very excited to be able to go to Evanston and all the places my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother stepped before me.

This article is a great link (The History of Meatless Mondays) by Katherine Spiers about the history of food conservation during WWI. As you know, if you follow this blog — the Evanston Community Kitchen sprang from a Evanston Woman’s Club food conservation project (the Food Conservation Committee of the Woman’s Club). My great-grandmother (Elizabeth Hawley Odell, also referred to below as Mrs. James Odell) was one of the three committee chairwomen, along with Mrs. Dawes and Mrs. Kingsley. At the time, my grandmother was 19 years old and living in Evanston.

If I could travel back in time, I would shadow both my grandmother and great-grandmother during this time period. I would love to watch my grandmother’s hands as she helped prepare canned fruits and vegetables from local victory gardens.  These historical moments are what I will be researching when I travel to Evanston this summer.

“During World War I (1917/8), through the Food Conservation Committee of the Woman’s Club, she helped to found (with Mrs. James Odell and Mrs. Homer Kingsley) and manage a community canning kitchen, which produced almost 7000 jars of food over a summer. This Conservation Committee further put on food demonstrations for women at Schools of Domestic Sciences all over the city and trained volunteers to teach others; they also wrote to merchants about complying with the conservation order of the United States, especially to find substitutes for wheat, meat, fat, and sugar.” — Evanston Women’s History Project Database (Helen Palmer Dawes), Evanston History Center

Domestic Revolution: Preserving the Family Meal

Women’s co-op: The Community Kitchen (Link to article in Evanston Now newspaper about a history talk on the Evanston Community Kitchen. See link for details).

Click on link for details of event: http://evanstonnow.com/event/education/bill-smith/2013-03-04/55018/womens-co-op-the-community-kitchen

The Community Kitchen Photo Credit: Evanston Woman's Club

“This Thursday (April 4, 2013) is “Preserving the Family Table,” a presentation covering the fascinating but mostly unknown story of the Community Kitchen.” — Evanston History Center Facebook page

“Women’s history month is year-round at EHC! Join them tonight at 7 pm to learn about the Evanston Community Kitchen, a woman-run cooperative housekeeping venture that sought to revolutionize women’s lives. Presented by Erin Hvizdak.” — Evanston History Center Facebook Page

A wine and appetizer reception catered by Whole Foods Market, Evanston South takes place at 6:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 to the event at the Evanston History Center, located at 225 Greenwood St., Evanston, Illinois 60201, inside the beautiful Dawes House. Event is free for EHC members.

Photo Credit: Jenny Thompson of the Evanston History Center. The event on The Community Kitchen is tonight (April 4) at 7 pm at the Evanston History Center (Dawes House).

The Evanston History Center (Dawes House) ~ Photo Credit: Jenny Thompson of the Evanston History Center. The event on The Community Kitchen is tonight (April 4) at 7 pm at the this beautiful house. Step back in time and attend this wonderful event.

“April Under the Buffalo

A reception catered by Whole Foods Market, Evanston South, kicks off each event at 6:30pm.
Presentations begin at 7pm.
Admission: $10 per event (Payable at the door) EHC Members Free.
Reservations Recommended: jthompson@evanstonhistorycenter.org

“Preserving the Family Table: The Founding of Evanston’s Community Kitchen After WWI”
Presentation by: Erin Hvizdak
Thursday, April 4, 2013 7pm

Learn about the woman-run cooperative housekeeping venture, the Evanston Community Kitchen, founded as a canning kitchen during WWI. At its peak, the kitchen produced hot dinners in state-of-the-art facilities and delivered up to 500 meals per week. Billed as a service of “convenience” for housewives and young single businesswomen, the Evanston Community Kitchen can also be seen as a response to the anxieties felt from shifting gender roles and class relations after WWI.” — Evanston History Center website (http://evanstonhistorycenter.org/events-programs)


Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

“Women are the real architects of society.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Events sometimes converge to create opportunities for people to gather and create great things that have a profound effect on our world. At the height of WWI, in the midst of food conservation, labor shortages, the Temperance Movement and Women’s Suffrage, the Evanston Community Kitchen emerged as a lightning rod for women who found their world and roles in it rapidly changing. The Community Kitchen was an innovative idea that sparked advances in food preparation and delivery — becoming the model replicated throughout the nation in the early 1920’s. Read more about the exceptional grande dames of the Evanston Woman’s Club and their solutions to this challenging period in history.

What women inspire you? What  women would you invite to a dinner party and what would you serve for dinner? It’s hard to settle on a number of women to invite, so choose your own.

I would invite Elizabeth Odell (my great-grandmother), Elizabeth Odell Welch (my grandmother), Elizabeth Welch Miller (my mother), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Helen Palmer Dawes, Nellie Appleton Kingsley and Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Odell, Helen Palmer Dawes, and Nellie Kingsley were the co-founders of The Evanston Community Kitchen.

I would serve a four-course gourmet meal catered by The Community Kitchen, of course!

“Evanston is remarkable in nothing if not for the ability, individuality, and enterprise of its women.”

— Frances E. Willard

Image Source: http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/willard/willard.html

Frances Willard on her bicycle in Evanston, Illinois                                                  Image Source: exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/willard/

 

 

Recommended Reading:


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1913: Evanston Woman’s Club Annual Meeting, Freshwater Fury, Mona Lisa Returns, Illinois Women Get Right to Vote, and Charlie Chaplin Begins His Career

The Lake Shore News was published every Thursday from 1912 – 1923 covering news from Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Wilmette, and Winnetka. A subscription price for a year was $2.  Albert H. Bowman was the managing editor. Bertha R. Bowman was the assistant editor and James Leonard Lee was the city editor.  If one wished to submit news items, they needed to be submitted no later than noon on Monday to be published in the Thursday weekly.

What I enjoyed about this slice of research was how it felt like reading Facebook in the section What People Are Doing in Evanston.  I was able to read The Lake Shore News archived copies.  I found this resource as I was researching the Community Kitchen. What I enjoyed the most was reading the advertisements.

Some of the 1913 status updates (May 1, 1913 from The Lake Shore News) were as follows:

  • Mr. Earl Coate and Fred Carlson are overhauling their boat, the “Loon,” preparatory to entering the Lipton cup races this summer.
  • Mrs. Charles Frederic Blue, Jr., 425 Greenwood boulevard, was hostess at a dinner Friday evening before the Bachelors’ and Benedicts dance. Covers were laid for fourteen. Monday afternoon Mrs. Blue entertained at a bridge party.
  • The senior promenade of Northwestern University will be given tomorrow evening at the Evanston Woman’s Club. The patrons and patronesses will be President A. W. Harris, Miss Irene Blanchard, Dean and Mrs. T. F. Holgate, Director and Mrs. J. F. Hayford, Mr. and Mrs. James A. Patten, Prof. and Mrs. U.S. Grant, Prof. and Mrs. P. Fox, Dr. and Mrs. Snyder, and Mr. and Mrs. D. J. West.
  • Miss Helen Randlev, 1011 Maple avenue, was a luncheon hostess Saturday.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Percival H. Truman, 2602 Harrison street, entertained at cards Monday evening. There were three tables.
  • Mrs. Adolf Jahn, 2344 Orrington avenue, entertained a party of Northwestern university students Friday evening at her home.
  • A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. William J. Sack of Ravenswood, April 24. Mrs. Sack will be remembered as Miss Ethel Davis of this city.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Henry W. Leman, 1326 Judson avenue, had as their weekend guests, Mrs. Roe and her son, Russell, of Chicago.
  • Miss Kathleen Rowe, 2311 Sherman avenue, entertained the girls of the ancient history classes of the High school at her home Friday afternoon.
  • Arthur Marshall Morgan, Jr., left Evanston Thursday to spend the summer on a farm near Rockford, Illinois.
  • Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Mitchell, 1031 Judson avenue, have taken the house at 1032 Michigan avenue and will move there today.
  • Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Gardner, 811 Washington street, left Tuesday for Otia, Michigan, where they have purchased a fruit farm.
  • Mrs. E. Warner Coburn, Forest avenue and Lincoln place, entertained at bridge Thursday afternoon in honor of Miss Lucille Churchill of Erie, Pa. There were five tables.
  • The Beta Pi chapter of the Delta Tau Delta, 2207 Sherman avenue, gave its last dance of the school year Saturday evening at the Evanston Woman’s Club. It was informal.
  • Mr. Albert H. Ulrich, 629 Davis street, and daughter, Miss Dorothy, have arrived safely in Italy. They have visited all the more important towns, and are now in Venice.

From The Lake Shore News September 25, 1913:

“A reception to the president and officers of the Woman’s Club was held Tuesday afternoon in the clubhouse. It was the first regular meeting of the club and followed immediately an adjourned annual meeting.  In the receiving line were the president  Mrs. Rufas C. Dawes, and the officers, among the latter were Mrs. James Odell, Mrs. Frank A. Vickers, Mrs. James A. Patten, Mrs. N. W. Helm, Mrs. Perkins Base, Mrs. William G. Alexander, Mrs. W. S. Carson, Mrs. R. R. McCabe, Mrs. T.P. Stanwood, Mrs. John Schwender, Mrs. W.M. Turner, Mrs. N.D. Harris, Mrs. A.F. McCarrell, Mrs. P.V.E.B. Ward, Mrs. JasHibben, Mrs. W.M. Locy, and Mrs. Howard Wilcox. The social committee  of which Mrs. R.R. McCabe is chairman, had charge of the affair. Mrs. Robert Ambrosius, a cello artist and a member of the Chicago Orchestra, gave a delightful program, assited by Miss Prudence Neff at the piano. A social hour followed at which Mrs. Irving Osborne, Mrs. U.S. Grant, Mrs. Ernest Rockitt and Mrs. F.W. Harnwell poured.”

If you would like to read a detailed history of the Evanston Woman’s Clubhouse building, this is an excellent research article from the Evanston History Center’s blog: It Takes a Village…to Raise and Maintain a Building written by Erin Hvizdak. She is an intern at the Evanston History Center and is getting her Masters in Women’s and Gender Studies at Loyola.  She holds a Masters in Library Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Cornerstone Celebration, May 28, 1912. The woman in the photo is Mrs. C.E. Clifton, president of the Club. The man is unidentified.
Photo: Courtesy of the Woman’s Club of Evanston.

“The clubhouse is located at 1702 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Illinois. The clubhouse cornerstone was laid in 1912. Its doors were opened in 1913, thanks largely to the work of one member, Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, chair of the Building Committee. Former Mayor of Evanston, Mr. James A. Patten, agreed to fund a third of the building cost if the women came up with the rest. They did just that. Property was purchased from Northwestern University which is a number of blocks away. The clubhouse was designed by the famous Chicago architect, Ernest Mayo, and opened its doors on March 11, 1913.”  Source: Woman’s Club of Evanston.

If you would like to learn more about Ernest Mayo, click here.

Less than two months later of the Club’s September 23 Annual meeting, the greatest storm to ever hit the Great Lakes happened between November 6 and November 11, 1913. The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 was  the deadliest storm in the history of the Great Lakes.  This natural disaster known as the “Big Blow, “Freshwater Fury”, or “White Hurricane” took the lives of more than 250 people between Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie destroying 19 ships, and stranding 19 others.  If you would like to read more about this historic storm, here is a great article from the The Detroit News.

Other major news events of 1913:

  • March 3, 1913 – National American Woman Suffrage Association parade held in Washington, D.C.
  • March 11, 1913 – Evanston Woman’s Club opens its doors

    Postcard of the Woman’s Club of Evanston. Courtesy of the Woman’s Club of Evanston.

  • June 1913 – The Illinois legislature passed a bill to allow women the right to vote in 1913. On June 26, 1913, Illinois Governor Edward F. Dunne signed the bill in the presence of Grace Wilbur Trout, her assistant,  Elizabeth Booth, and union labor leader Margaret Healy.
  • September 23rd – Serbian troops march into Albania
  • October 3rd – Federal Income Tax signed into law (at 1%)
  • November 11th – 14th – The Nineteeth Annual Convention of the Illinois State Federation of Women’s Clubs headquartered at the new Evanston Woman’s Clubhouse. Mrs. James Odell (my great-grandmother) was the Chair of the Finance Committee of convention.
  • December 12th – “Mona Lisa,” stolen from Louvre Museum in 1911, recovered
  • December 16th – Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week
  • December 21st – 1st crossword puzzle (with 32 clues) printed in NY World
  • December 23rd – President Woodrow Wilson signs Federal Reserve Act into law
  • Portrait of Mona Lisa (1479-1528), also known as La Gioconda, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo; 1503-06 (150 Kb); Oil on wood, 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in); Musee du Louvre, Paris
    Source: WebMuseum, Paris

  • If you have any information on any of the women who are listed above, please contact me.  I am working on a historic food memoir about my great-grandmother, Mrs. James Odell and the Evanston Community Kitchen.  You can email me directly at memomuse@gmail.com. My name is Megan Oteri.

I received a Regional Artist Project grant recently (in fact I received the check for the grant in the mail today) from the Pitt County Art Council at Emerge.  I am very excited I have the opportunity to travel to Evanston, Illinois to conduct on-site archival research.  I plan on visiting the Evanston History Center, the Evanston Public Library, Northwestern University Library, and other Evanston landmarks.  If you have any connection to the Evanston Community Kitchen, located originally in the basement of the Evanston Woman’s Club, then at 1519 Chicago Avenue, and then permanently until 1951 at 600 Davis Street, please contact me.  Any little detail can help in the research process.  If you have information regarding the time period, specific to Evanston from 1918 to 1951, that could also be helpful.

I hope to obtain records or diaries of the women listed above that may offer a window into their world.

Thank you for your support and interest in this project. You can follow The Evanston Community Kitchen and the progress of this project here on this blog, on Twitter and Facebook.

Women in the Kitchen and History in the Making. Food = Story.