16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Thursday, January 18, 1912: To write something when you have nothing to write is an impossible task.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to go off on a tangent.
When I began working on this blog I knew that cars, airplanes, and telephones were all relatively new technology in 1912–I was amazed to discover that recipe boxes and cards were also a new idea.
Here are some excerpts from an article called “A Housekeeper’s Filing Cook Book A Novel Way to Save Recipes and Household Hints in a Systemic and Convenient Form,” that was in the March 1912 issue of National Food Magazine:
Every year housekeeping becomes more of a science. Shiftless methods and poor tools give place to system and efficient utensils, so that housekeeping is taking the rightful place by the side of other well-managed businesses.
One of the greatest aids to system in business offices is the filing drawer, or cabinet. A clever housewife has adapted the filing idea to her own needs and developed a filing cook book which she and several others have been using successfully for some time past.
Cards measuring 5×8 were bought at a stationer’s and fitted into a pasteboard drawer such as can be bought to fit the cards. The drawer holds over two hundred cards. Any size card may be used but the above has been found the most convenient.
The cards are grouped under sub-heads is alphabetical order, as Bread, Cake, Desserts, Meats, Pastry, Oysters, Salads, Specials, Vegetables, etc.
On these cards are written or typed, under their proper sub-head, choice recipes from friends, the favorite dishes of the hostess or more particularly, recipes taken from culinary magazines such as the National Food Magazine.
The “old way,” to save a recipe was to paste it anywhere on any page in an old note-book which became covered with flour and mayonnaise whenever used. Or the recipe was just “tucked away” among the leaves of the real cook book—and never found.
Here instead of writing down your friend’s recipe for her best sponge cake or pasting some of the fine recipes you have read in the National Food Magazine into a messy book, in a disorderly fashion—you write the recipe on a card, or paste the clipping on a card and slip it into its proper place . . .