The Evanston Community Kitchen

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


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:

Advertisements


2 Comments

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.


1 Comment

Hooverizing: Food Will Win the War

National Canning Day was October 23.

In the summer of 1918, the women of the Evanston Woman’s Club canned 7,000 jars of fruits and vegetables from local wartime gardens in an effort to aid their community and the war effort.  Food conservation was a growing concern in 1918.  Armistice Day was months away.  Posters were displayed in public areas to conserve food.

Tacking up U.S. Food Administration posters at Mobile, Alabama, Ca. 1918.
COPYRIGHT: American Photo Archive

The women of Evanston, who still did not have the right to vote — organized, facilitated, gathered, cooked, canned and prepared 7,000 jars of fruits and vegetables from local wartime gardens to feed community members and raise money for club’s War Emergency Fund. The three committee chairwomen of the food conservation committee were Mrs. Helen Dawes, Mrs. Elizabeth Odell (my great-grandmother), and Mrs. Nellie Kingsley. These three women were also the co-founders of The Community Kitchen.

Image Source: Evanston History Center Community Kitchen Co-Founders and Evanston Woman’s Club Food Conservation Committee Chairwomen
Left to Right: Mrs. James Odell, Mrs. Homer Kingsley, and Mrs. Helen Dawes

The club’s food conservation kitchen and canning event was in the Evanston Woman’s Club basement.  They raised a total of $250 for the club’s War Emergency Fund.  Woodrow Wilson referred to this successful conservation effort often, as well as rating it the most efficient conservation kitchen in the nation.

Artist: Charles E. Chambers
Issued by: The United States Food Administration to encourage voluntary food conservation

Image Source: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Related links:

Herbert Hoover, United States Food Administrator, appointed by President Woodrow Wilson, started a voluntary food conservation program in 1917, when America entered the Great War, to reduce domestic food consumption by 15%.  “Food will win the war” was the name of the food conservation campaign.

Envelope with slogan, “Food will win the war,” postmarked January 29, 1918
Image Source: ebay

Food conservation was also referred to as “Hooverizing.”

Valentine from 1918
Image Source: National Archives

It’s makes you realize how long women have been working behind the scenes to get things done.  Every time I go to write a post on a subject related to The Community Kitchen, I get lost in research and overwhelmed with what to fit into a short blog post.  This canning event was one of the seeds that grew into The Community Kitchen.  The other seed was a successful emergency kitchen, established during the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918.  Guess where this emergency kitchen was set up? Yes, the Evanston Woman’s Club basement.

Food equals story.

Food Conservation Poster 1917
Image Source: http://www.archives.gov

Did you can any food this fall?  If so, please share in the comments. If not, what would you like most to have on your shelf for the winter? My bounty this summer was fresh basal, which I plan on making pesto sauce with.