Church Cookbook Advertisements A Hundred Years Ago

Advertisements in church cookbook
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book (1921) compiled by the Ladies of the West Concord Union Church, Concord Junction, Massachusetts

Church cookbooks, both a hundred years ago and now, often contain advertisements from local businesses. The ads can help defray the cost of producing the cookbook, and can increase profits if the cookbook is sold as a fundraiser.

These advertisements are often very basic – yet I enjoy looking at them. They provide insights into the community and the times. For example, these advertisements from a 1921 Massachusetts church cookbook compiled by ladies of West Concord Union Church (Why are they called “ladies” rather than “women”? And, though perhaps it is obvious given the year, why did just “ladies” compile the cookbook rather than church “members”?) suggest that many homes regularly purchased ice (For an ice box?), that fresh fish was readily available, and that the area was fairly rural.

12 thoughts on “Church Cookbook Advertisements A Hundred Years Ago

  1. They were ‘ladies’ rather than ‘women’ because language changes. My mother belonged to the ladies’ circles at church; there was a Ladies’ Aid Society then. I didn’t run into anyone who insisted that females should be called women until I was in graduate school in the 1970s, and ‘ladies’ rooms’ still are common at public restrooms around the country: unless, of course, they’re going with local culture and opting for things like ‘cowboys’ and ‘cowgirls’!

      1. I find it condescending. Nobody ever calls men ‘gentlemen’ – or rarely, anyway, so I find using ‘ladies’ for ‘the fairer sex’ (That’s the vibe the word has for me) seems patronising.

        1. I hear people use gentleman all the time.
          Maybe if the terms ladies and gentlemen were still used, and children and adults taught to be ladies and gentlemen, the world would be a better place.

  2. I like the “connected by telephone’ on the one and an actual telephone # on the other. Showing how up to date and modern they were. Of course if you had a phone in your home you went through an operator but they wanted you to know you could call them. I have had trouble explaining “party lines” to my young nieces, they probably can’t comprehend the lack of phones in homes and businesses at all.

  3. To me, at 80, Ladies conveys a more warm, local group of friendship, whereas Women is more cold, generic term. No disrespect was ever intended, rather, the opposite. In our increasingly frenetic pace today, we barely take time to be civil ourselves, and would need to relinguish a lot of the time we do not have, in order to walk in the shoes of our elders, and then to pronounce against them.

  4. And there are still ads in the church cookbooks!! The discussion of the term Ladies vs. women is more one of societal opinion – back in the 1920s the term woman was used in phrases like “woman of the evening” to denote a female of loose morals. Where ladies were held in high regard. My grandmother once told me that I should strive to be “an angel in the home, a lady in the street, and a devil in bed”! She was a funny lady – always! hehehe!

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