Sometimes, especially with female ancestors, we forget that they may have been involved in a membership organization. Many different kinds of women's auxiliaries, organizations and clubs existed. One example is found in this community cookbook, simply titled Selected Recipes.
This book published by the Joe Spratt Woman's Relief Corps (Watertown, New York) is filled with recipes, none of which are attributed to anyone. (The Woman's Relief Corps was an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic.) However, the real value is in the advertisements. Most likely this booklet has more ads than recipes but it gives us a great way to reconstruct the community. This cookbook and its ads almost seem like a city directory.
This cookbook appears to be from the early 20th century, there is no date, and while it contains no names of the members of this branch of the Woman's Relief Corps it does tell us much about their community. One of the interesting aspects of the ads is that they include a page with the names of different men running for public office. A great idea on those politician's parts taking advertisements out in a cookbook. My guess is this cookbook might have been published around 1920, when women were granted the right to vote. Additional research will help me pinpoint an approximate date.
If you Google "Joe Spratt Woman's Relief Corps" you will find additional information about this group through sources like Google books and newspapers found on the website Old Fulton Post Cards .
The recipe I chose for this Food Friday is one that illustrates one of the important aspects of researching cookbooks. Women wrote in their cookbooks. They made comments, made changes to the recipe, gave information about the contributor and wrote their experiences with the recipe. Some women stored newspaper clippings, other recipes and even letters in their cookbooks. Unfortunately, this cookbook owner didn't put her name on the book, but we can see what she thought of this doughnut recipe.