Friday, September 28, 2012
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured this interesting story about the history of the blender - with a Wisconsin connection.
Longtime Chicago Tribune food editor Ruth Ellen Church - who wrote under the pen name of Mary Meade - published the Blender Cookbook in 1952. It was one of many cookbooks that she wrote. She was a 1933 graduate of Iowa State University with a major in home economics journalism. The University honored her with an Alumni Merit Award in 1961.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I was pleased to get a lovely email yesterday and to learn about women's page journalist Margaret Miller. She was an Associated Press reporter from 1944 to 1952 before taking time off to raise her children. She returned to newspapering in Detroit in 1967 as the editor of the women's section - that would then be called "Suburban Life." Here is a great column about Margaret and her influence. I liked this: "Margaret was a pragmatist, but one who was skillful in moving business forward whether it be in the day-to-day tasks of getting out the newspaper or in edging forward women's equality in the workplace."
I also liked the story about Margaret's mentoring of a young man in her section. It reminded me of what Carol Sutton did as women's page editor at the Louisville Courier Journal when she hired the first man to report for her section.
My guess is that Margaret likely knew Roberta Applegate who also worked for the Associated Press during World War II. There was a strong community of women's page journalists in Michigan. Willah Weddon wrote a book about many of these women: Michigan Press Women: Today and Yesterday.
Like several women's page editors, Margaret wrote a column about her family. I have been collecting these family columns in the hopes of learning more about the private/public stories. Some of my favorite columns are from Dorothee Polson at the Arizona Republic and Edee Greene at the Fort Lauderdale News.
Another area that Margaret's story reminds me of is the different paths that some women's page editors took. For example, Janet Chusmir - who went from women's page editor to executive editor of the Miami Herald - stayed at home with her children after earning a journalism degree and became a reporter after they were in school.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I am excited to have another guest blog post on The Feminist Kitchen Blog. It is available here.
I blogged about the need to recognize women in food journalism with a focus on the New York Times' Jane Nickerson. I became Facebook friends with Jane's daughter recently. I just love the connections of social media.
Monday, September 24, 2012
As I work on my revisions for my book chapter about the role of gossip in the women's pages, I came across the above story about Miami Herald society editor Eleanor Ratelle. Interesting that it was her job to write about weddings and she hid her wedding from her editor.
Eleanor's advice column is a key part of the book chapter. Here is a link to her papers.
Lance & I are presenting a paper about that advice column at NCA this fall.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I was so excited to receive a package from the Fales Library at New York University yesterday. In it was an oral history that food writer Laura Shapiro conducted with longtime A.P. food editor Cecily Brownstone. (The photo above is in her papers - this was taken at a 1951 party for the author of The Joy of Cooking.)
Some highlights from the oral history:
* Unlike the charges of food editors taking advertising money: "I stayed away from manufacturers in my A.P. days." She would not mention brand names in stories or recipes. She said: "A.P. would not have allowed that. And I was smart enough not to want to do it." She said these ethical guidelines were reinforced during the Van Doren quiz-show scandal in 1959.
* There were several mentions of NYT Food Editor Jane Nickerson. The two women socialized often - many times sharing meals with James Beard. At one point, Brownstone travels to Florida to meet with Nickerson.
* She admired Poppy Cannon - author of the Can-Opener Cookbook, among others.
* Cecily said of Alice Waters' famous restaurant: "It was a grubby little place."
* Most interesting to me was a claim by Brownstone that Nickerson wrote the first edition of the New York Times Cookbook. I am looking into that
Monday, September 17, 2012
Women's Page History is now on Facebook. It can be found here.
The women's pages included forms of social media in their day - from answering the phone with household cleaning tips to helping readers with recipe exchanges.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I came across this neat blog: The Lost Foods of New York City . In one post, the blogger wrote about the dish, Steak Diane.
What the writer does not include is the reference to New York Times food editor Jane Nickerson being one of the first journalists to write about the dish. That fact is noted on this food history blog.
Nickerson's work is often overshadowed by Craig Claiborne at the NYT. He is given credit for including news in the food section in 1957 but Jane had been doing that since World War II. I will be presenting a paper about Nickerson's career at the National Communication Association convention this fall.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Missouri Historical Society recently posted this great image of women's page editor Marjorie Paxson to its Facebook wall. I had never seen an image of Marjorie in her younger years.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Last month, the Miami Herald cited a recipe from its 1960s food editor Virginia Heffington.
Above is the book that Heffington wrote in 1968 when she was the Homemaking Editor of the Miami Herald. At that point she had been at the Herald for five years and had won a Vesta Award - the top recognition for food journalism.
In the introduction to the book, she mentioned that she was a graduate of Iowa State in home economic journalism - an area that I am researching for my book. A librarian at Iowa State was helpful in tracking down information about Virginia.
I also found an archive in Canada that had ten of Virginia's clips in its collections. I should get copies in the mail next week.
Friday, September 7, 2012
With all the mocking of Clint Eastwood talking to a chair at the RNC, I kept thinking how much fun the furnishing writers of the women's pages would have had. (Furnishings is one of the 4 Fs associated with the women's pages.) Three of the furnishing writers I am researching are Dorothy Dawe and Lois Hagen from the Milwaukee Journal, and Jo Werne from the Miami Herald.
If I were talk to a chair, this would be the kind I would choose.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I just finished going through the wonderful package of papers that arrived from the National Women & Media Collection. The copies are from the newly indexed Marjorie Paxson papers.
Marjorie, who helped established the NWMC, was a longtime women's page editor before becoming a newspaper publisher. That is a drawing of her above and a card signed by her friends and colleagues at the Miami Herald as she was leaving for the St. Petersburg Times. There are also great photos of her going away party - including one image of Marj with women's page pioneer Marie Anderson.
In some ways it was bittersweet to see the images. Marjorie looks so happy as she left for a new adventure. Yet, she was treated poorly at the St. Pete Times and was fired when they learned that she was looking for another job.
Other great material I found included speeches from a 1963 Women's Page conference featuring Jim Bellows and Paul Myhre and transcripts from a 1972 food editors conference - which included Bellows and Jeanne Voltz as speakers.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The work of newspapers food editors has long been devalued - especially those who wrote in the 1950s and 1960s. In the book The United States of Arugula, David Kamp refers to them dismissively as the "Jello-abusing women's page ladies."
What is interesting is how often I now see the recipes of these women cited. For example, 1950s Charlotte Observer food editor Eudora Garrison's recipe for a chicken salad sandwich was cited in Oprah Magazine. This blog cited one of Garrison's cake recipes.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Several of the newspaper food writers in the women's pages of newspapers used pen names such as Ruth Ellen Church (pictured above from when she was home economics journalism student at Iowa State University) who wrote under the byline of Mary Meade during her long career at the Chicago Tribune.
This link shows that it was Virginia Harms who wrote under the byline of Alice Richards at the Milwaukee Journal.
Here is a story about the use of two pen names at Los Angeles newspapers: Prudence Penney and Marian Manners.
Mary Cullen was a food writing pen name in the Northwest.
I am continuing to research this food writing trend and how it is tied to the advertising side of the newspaper.