Thursday, March 15, 2018
Mrs. Christine Frederick's Housekeepers' Food Guide chart, 1914 (detail). Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryMrs. Christine Frederick's Housekeepers' Food Guide chart, 1914 (detail). Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

Scientific management is often associated with factories and offices, but rarely with kitchen or laundry facilities in the home. During the early 20th century, Mrs. Christine (McGaffey) Frederick, a home economist, developed theories, wrote books, and lectured about bringing efficiency to the home. She argued that women needed better equipment and experimentation opportunities in order to be liberated from household tasks. (Frederick was later criticized because the efficiency process was so complex that eventually people had to spend more time to implement it.)

Mrs. Frederick’s most famous contribution was the Applecroft Home Experiment Station, which was initially developed in her home at Long Island. She also created a series of books, lectures, courses, and food charts, which—according to the promotional leaflets—“. . . enabled any housekeeper, even those without dietetic training, to plan ‘balanced’ scientific meals.”

The papers of Christine Frederick at the Schlesinger Library contain at least three of these food charts: “Mrs. Christine Frederick’s Housekeepers’ Food Guide,” “Mrs. Christine Fredericks’s Salad Chart,” and “A Handy Chart for Home Canning by the Cold-Pack Method.”

"Mrs. Christine Frederick’s Housekeepers’ Food Guide" from 1914 presents a series of “balanced meals according to healthful food combinations.” While the directions primarily suggest selecting a meat as a base for the meal, there is at least one option that includes baked beans, lentils, nut loaf, or croquettes as the base for the meal. The guide to selecting meat provides suggestions for suitable accompanying soups, starchy vegetables, watery vegetables, salads, and desserts. By selecting beef steaks as the base of your meal, the suggestions for soups are: cream of asparagus, cream of carrots, or cream of onions; starchy vegetables including sweet potatoes, corn, parsnips, or artichokes; watery vegetables such as asparagus, tomatoes, cauliflower, or peppers; salad options with lettuce, Romaine, pimientos, sardines, or radishes; and finally, dessert options of cornstarchers, shortcakes, or tapiocas. The idea is to select only one of the options for each category. The chart also includes information about the benefits of these foods, what the human body requires on a daily basis, and the nutrients that each of these foods provides.

Mrs. Christine Frederick's Salad Chart. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryMrs. Christine Frederick's Salad Chart. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

The salad chart includes a guide for fruit salads, watery vegetables, apples with other ingredients, aspic, salad seasonings, fish salads, meat salads, cabbage salads, tomatoes with other ingredients, and starchy vegetables. As can be seen in the image, by spinning the disc, the user can pair the vegetable categories with the best complementary meal. Additionally, the chart includes directions for making and serving salads, as well as how to use salad dressings.

"A Handy Chart for Home Canning by the Cold-Pack Method" from 1919 is more straightforward. The chart includes suggestions and explanations of certain terms on canning and syrups, what the Cold-Pack method is, and some canning techniques. In this chart, the spinning disc includes the class of foods such as root vegetables: carrot, beet, turnip, parsnip, and sweet potato; the preparation method, blanching time, packing directions, and sterilizing time.

A Handy Chart for Home Canning by the Cold-Pack Method, 1919. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryA Handy Chart for Home Canning by the Cold-Pack Method, 1919. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

The above are only a small example of the fascinating materials that can be found in Christine Frederick’s papers. Other items include blueprints and photographs for the Applecroft Home Experiment Station, a series of leaflets including products which Mrs. Frederick endorsed, short publications written by her such as “You and your Laundry” (1920) or “Come into my Kitchen” (1922), and her unfinished, unpublished autobiography.

 

Author: 
Pablo Morales Henry