All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Human Rights
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In the years following the Civil War, the American suffrage movement employed many tactics in the campaign for women's right to vote. In addition to sponsoring highly visible actions such conventions, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and hunger strikes, suffrage organizations across the country also published cookbooks.
Laura Kumin, an attorney turned historian, examines these books in the larger context of the suffrage movement and American political and domestic life. She frames the cookbooks as both fundraisers for local organizations, as well as part of a broader effort to reach, persuade, and inspire women "who had not yet thought about suffrage, those who were undecided, and even those who were hostile."
Just as the suffrage movement was itself divided on matters of approach, styles of engagement, and just how much to pursue, the cookbooks Kumin surveys, published from 1886 to 1916, were disparate efforts, some more overtly political than others. Throughout this book, Kumin reproduces original recipes from the books, most of them written in very terse prose, and offers contemporary adaptations for those interested in the likes of a savory shrimp pudding or asparagus soup. A color photographic insert reproduces various cartoons, postcards, sheet music covers and other illustrations prepared to promote or oppose suffrage. Rarity of rarities, the book also includes endnote citations.
Kumin also notes a variety of other food-related ways that the movement sought to advance its cause, including inexpensive lunchrooms where suffragist slogans were emblazoned on the plates, and baking contests that drew crowds who were treated to oratory as well as doughnuts, pies, and cookies.
All Stirred Up provides thoughtful perspective on an array of changing American attitudes, not only toward food and suffrage, but more broadly on equality and the role of law in American life.