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"One of the best known cooking experts in the United States" and The New Calendar of Salads

Jane Metters LaBarbara
May 15, 2017

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist, with editing, insight, and additional salad-making by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian


We are always looking for new ways to share items in our collections, so when we found out that May is National Salad Month, we knew we had to find something to share.  Although the West Virginia and Regional History Center has an entire section of cookbooks which feature recipes for salads, we thought it would be more fitting to share an entire book devoted exclusively to salads.  The New Calendar of Salads features a full 365 recipes for a variety of salads–one for every day of the year–as well as a variety of dressings and sauces.  Written by Elizabeth O. Hiller, the New Calendar of Salads debuted in the 1910s.

For someone who has authored at least 14 different cookbooks, Mrs. Elizabeth O. Hiller is surprisingly difficult to pin down.  During the course of our research, we were unable to find any concrete information about her.  Nevertheless, Hiller likely lived in Chicago during her active period.  Advertisements in Good Housekeeping indicate that she founded the Chicago Domestic Science Training School.  The school offered “plain and advanced cookery, carving, dining room service, training of butlers and waitresses, and sickroom cookery.”  A note in the “News and Notes” section of The Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, Volume 5 from 1900 indicates that invitations for the opening day are being acknowledged and that “Mrs. E. O. Hiller, class of ‘98, is principal of this school.”

Hiller also spent time traveling around the country, performing cooking demonstrations to audiences of “two to four thousand per day.”  A search on Chronicling America, a digital archive for American newspapers, yielded a number of advertisements featuring Mrs. Hiller’s approval.  Products such as Cottolene (a beef tallow and cottonseed oil alternative to lard), Fruited Wheat and Fruited Oats, Pike’s Peak Self-Rising Flour, and Tone Spices were all endorsed by Hiller in newspapers.


Mrs. Elizabeth Hiller endorsement ads for Fruited Oats and Pike's Peak Self-Rising Flour

The Fruited Wheat and Fruited Oats advertisement on the left was found in The Washington Herald, February 3, 1919. The Pike’s Peak Self-Rising Flour advertisement was found in the Las Vegas Optic, May 15, 1914. Both advertisements located using the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper database.


Hiller even wrote cookbooks for companies to help them market their products.  Her book Left-Over Foods and How to Use Them: With Suggestions Regarding the Preservation of Foods in the Home, was written for McCray Refrigerators and offered in newspaper ads as a free book.


Advertisement for McCray Refrigerator Company

McCray Refrigerators advertisement from Washington, D. C.’s Evening Star, May 1, 1910.


Between teaching, writing sponsored cookbooks, and performing cooking demonstrations around the country, Hiller still managed to write several recipe calendars.  These calendar cookbooks contained 365 recipes, one for each day of the year.


Covers of multiple different recipe calendars

New Dinners for All Occasions, New Calendar of Salads, The Calendar of Sandwiches & Beverages, The Calendar of Luncheons Teas & Suppers, New Calendar of Desserts. Photo from Omero online store.


The New Calendar of Salads that we have in our Rare Book Room is accompanied by a storage box and appears to have been lightly used, if at all.  The cover art is vibrant, with pastel colors and a metallic gold paint.


Cover of the New Calendar of Salads book

Cover to New Calendar of Salads, housed in the WVRHC Rare Book Room.


Hiller offers a wide variety of creative salads which, although strange-sounding to our modern ears, were probably standard fare in the mid 1910s, when this book was published.  To celebrate National Salad Month, and to give us a chance to try one of these recipes, we picked the recipe for May 15th to prepare individually.  The recipe for that day is Egg Salad, one of several egg salads or egg-focused salads in the calendar.


Full page and closeup image of "May Fifteenth Egg Salad" recipe


The calendar, luckily, has a section at the back which lists recipes for salad dressings used in Hiller’s salads, including the French dressing and “cooked salad dressing” required for the May 15th dish.  The authors of this post both attempted this dish so that we could compare our interpretation of the recipe and our results.  We found that the most difficult part of recreating this recipe was the vagueness of the recipe.  What is considered “a mound of eggs”?  How do you “mask” something with salad dressing?

Both dishes we prepared turned out to be fairly similar.  Stewart chose butter lettuce while Jessica went with a standard green leaf lettuce.  The recipe instructed to “marinate [the eggs] with French dressing.”  After making the dressing from scratch, Stewart chose to top the eggs with the dressing, while Jessica attempted to marinate the eggs in a bowl and then carefully remove them from the liquid.


Two images of eggs either on or next to lettuce

Stewart, above, topped the eggs with the marinade while Jessica, below, marinated the eggs in a bowl.


The cooked salad dressing was the next step.  Having never made a cooked salad dressing before, neither of us knew what to expect.  Hiller’s salad calendar luckily contained three similar recipes for cooked salad dressing.  The first cooked salad dressing was the one that we both followed to create the fluffy ‘dressing’ made with butter, flour, paprika, egg yolks, and heavy cream whipped until stiff.


Image of halved eggs, topping, and bed of lettuce

After laying the eggs on the lettuce, Jessica began to “mask [the eggs] with cooked salad dressing.”

Image of food preparation showing red bell pepper, chives plant, and mixing bowl

Stewart used fresh chives to top her dish.


When we decided to both create the same recipe from Mrs. Hiller’s salad calendar, we made a point not to discuss techniques or the instructions beforehand.  There were certainly differences in our techniques, but our final dishes looked (and smelled) the same!


Two images of "egg salad" showing eggs and topping on beds of lettuce

Jessica’s Egg Salad is on the left, while Stewart’s Egg Salad is on the right.  Coworkers who tasted Stewart’s preparation of the dish enjoyed the vibrancy of the presentation and commented on the texture of the “cooked salad dressing” on top of the eggs. [Editor’s Note: I can confirm that I was skeptical of the fancy dressing at first, but I sampled Stewart’s salad and it was quite tasty!]

Although Mrs. Hiller’s recipes (the attempted Egg Salad included) are not ones that we would normally prepare in our daily life, we enjoyed trying to recreate the dish.  Mrs. Hiller herself is still somewhat of a mystery to us, but at least her legacy lives on through the archives.


Additional Sources Consulted:

Chronicling America

Google Books



Strike a Pose! Re-enacting Shakespeare

Jane Metters LaBarbara
May 8, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

"Shakespeare" in fancy text

When Dr. Anna Elfenbein asked if she could schedule a visit to the Rare Book Room for her That’s Amoré group, who had recently returned from a week-long trip to Italy, I was happy to comply.  We scheduled a visit to preview materials on Italian cities and culture, Italian studies, and the country of Italy.  Dr. Elfenbein asked if the class could have an opportunity to examine Shakespeare’s First Folio, the first printing of Shakespeare’s collected plays, as many of them, like Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, have Italian settings.  I made a list of materials the class would be using and a request for the history of the bust of Dante in one of the Downtown Library’s historic settings, the Robinson Reading Room.

Portrait of William Shakespeare

I believe most people think that a visit to the Rare Book Room is a serious and somber occasion.  We might wear white gloves, speak in hushed tones, and examine centuries of priceless historic volumes.  Sometimes it can be like that.  And then, there are other visits that turn out to be a lot of fun, like Saturday’s visit with Dr. Elfenbein’s That’s Amoré group!

The group looked at Italian illustrated newspapers from World War I, Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Gustave Doré, a woodcut of the ancient Roman poet, Ovid, in the Nuremberg Chronicle, a book on Roman Antiquities from 1663 with a fold out map of Rome, and much more.

After the class looked at the text of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s First Folio, I brought out a copy of Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, a book filled with illustrations from Shakespeare’s plays.  In the late 18th century, publisher and engraver John Boydell capitalized on the popularity of Shakespeare by commissioning well known artists, like Joshua Reynolds, to complete a series of illustrations, engravings and portraits based on dramatic moments in Shakespeare’s plays.  Boydell hung these in a gallery and charged the public admission to view them.  Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery was an enormous success.  People clambered to see, for the very first time, illustrations of Shakespeare’s plays.  As a result Boydell published his gallery images in a book, grandly title, Graphic illustrations of the dramatic works, of Shakspeare; consisting of a series of prints forming an elegant and useful companion to the various editions of his works, engraved from pictures, purposeley painted by the very first artists, and lately exhibited at the Shakspeare gallery. The engraved title page is shown below.

Title page of Boydell's Graphic Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare

As we turned the pages of WVU’s copy of Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery we came across a dramatic image of the three witches from Shakespeare play, Macbeth.  Although this play is set in Scotland, the image appealed to the class and they immediately set about recreating it!  Here’s the illustration from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and the photo beneath shows Soofia Lateef, Natalie Marquart, and Dylan Vest as they strike a pose – an on the spot re-creation of Shakespeare!

Dramatic image of the three witches from Shakespeare play, Macbeth

Students reenacting dramatic image of the three witches from Shakespeare play, Macbeth

I think they did a great job!  The book is open to the illustration on the table beside them and they carefully copied the pose.  So, as you can see, we can have lots of fun in the Rare Book Room!  Make your appointment with me today to see Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and “strike a pose!”

And that bust of Dante – it was a gift from a grateful Italian immigrant.  Here’s the story from the book, The Charles C. Wise Library: A Retrospective:

“While most library donations have been in the form of books, there are a few noteworthy exceptions. In 1896, an 18-year-old Italian named Thoney Pietro crossed the Atlantic to start a new life in the United States. Pietro entered the States with no money and no place to go, but was soon living the American dream. Starting out with only a wheelbarrow and a trowel for laying bricks, he soon amassed a fortune as a skilled and respected contractor. In 1940, the retired contractor contacted Peter Bazzanti of Florence, Italy, to commission a thank-you gift to America for having offered him such opportunity. Bazzanti sculpted a bust of the famous Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. Due to numerous confusing encounters with customs and its temporary holding at the Library of Congress, Pietro’s gift was eight years in transit before arriving at its final resting place at the WVU library. The bust of Dante was sculpted from white marble and rests atop a green and brown marble pedestal. On the day of its dedication, Pietro said, “The gift I am making is only a symbol which I hope for years to come will remind our young people of Italy — not the strife-torn, misguided Italy, but the real Italy, of music, laughter, art, and friendship.” The impressive bust can now be found in the library’s Robinson Reading Room, keeping careful watch over each new generation.”

Woman looking at bust of Dante



Image of Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery title page:  https://www.baumanrarebooks.com/BookImages/69542a.jpg

Image of Shakespeare portrait from the title page of the First Folio:

Photograph of student reenactment by Sundus Lateef featuring Soofia Lateef, Natalie Marquart, and Dylan Vest posing as the three witches from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth.

Wikipedia:  Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boydell_Shakespeare_Gallery

The Charles C. Wise Library: A Retrospective by Luke Bosco, page 29.

“Poet’s Bust in WVU Library Took 8 Years to Reach Campus,” The Morgantown Post, 21 November 1959.

Photograph of patron looking at bust of Dante: West Virginia & Regional History Center


It’s Astronomical! The Biggest Book in the Rare Book Room

Jane Metters LaBarbara
May 8, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Colored book plate of November Meteors

The Rare Book Room is home to books both big and small, but the largest book by far is Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings, published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1881.  Measuring a whopping 42 ½” in height by 14 ½” wide, Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings is actually a portfolio collection of prints documenting observations of the night sky. 

Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (December 26, 1827 – April 22, 1895), a French artist and astronomer, escaped persecution for his political beliefs under the Napoleonic Régime of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, known as Napoleon III, when he and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1852.


Portrait photo of Étienne Léopold Trouvelot


As a witness to the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, the flickering streams of light that illuminate the night sky in a myriad of colors in the Arctic regions, Trouvelot’s astronomical interest was ignited.  As an artist, he was able to combine his artistic skills with his observations of the night sky to brilliant effect.  In 1872, the Director of the Harvard Observatory, Joseph Winlock, saw Trouvelot’s illustrations and invited him to join Harvard’s staff in 1872.


Colored book plate of the Aurora Borealis


A few years later, in 1875, Trouvelot was awarded another great opportunity when he was allowed to use the U.S. Naval Observatory for an entire year.  It was in the course of his nightly observations using the observatory’s 26-inch refractor that Trouvelot recorded astronomical observations in artistic form.  Fifteen of his finest pastel illustrations based on his observations were published in elephant folio size in a portfolio by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1881.


Colored book plate of the Great Comet of 1881


One of my favorite images is the portrait above, the Great Comet of 1881.  Although the illustration is dark and shadowy it is punctuated by light; from the comet itself, to the window in the small observatory in the foreground, to the night stars, and the lighted windows in the distant houses.

Trouvelot also captured heavenly bodies, such as planets, that he observed.  Below is his rendition of Mars, pictured here more green than red, Saturn, and Jupiter.


Colored book plate of the planet Mars


Colored book plate of the planet Saturn


Colored book plate of the planet Jupiter


Trouvelot’s dramatic illustration of sun flares, or as Trouvelot himself called them, Solar Protuberances, is a fiery look at this burst of magnetic energy on the sun’s surface.


Colored book plate of solar protuberances


To see Trouvelot’s amazing Astronomical Drawings you can make an appointment for the Rare Book Room in the West Virginia & Regional History Center in the Downtown Campus Library, or you can view them online in a digital exhibit hosted by the New York Public Library:  https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/the-trouvelot-astronomical-drawings-atlas#/?tab=about




MayDay: Small Steps to Save our Stuff

Jane Metters LaBarbara
May 1, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC


MayDay 2017 logo


What is MayDay?

MayDay is a time when archivists and other cultural heritage professionals take personal and professional responsibility for doing something simple—something that can be accomplished in a day but that can have a significant impact on an individual’s or a repository’s ability to respond.” (Thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ website for the quote.)

Here at the Center, we are participating in MayDay.   Over the years, a lot of people have given us precious papers, photos, artifacts, and more to preserve and make accessible.  To be good caretakers of these gifts, we have to lessen risks and plan how to respond to emergency situations. 

MayDay and Disaster Preparedness at the WVRHC

The WVRHC has a Disaster Team that meets monthly to look at risks to our collections and to compile and update our disaster response plan.  We met last week to talk about how we would salvage books if we had a water leak, how we can keep the humidity steady, and more.  We’ve also put together an emergency contact list and started stocking supplies we will need in an emergency, including protective masks, flashlights, gloves, and more.

Cabinet full of supplies

Today, my MayDay task will be to put the finishing touches on the latest version of our disaster response plan.  Later this summer, the Team will hold a tabletop exercise with our department, so we can talk through an imaginary disaster to make sure our plan is sound and that everyone understands what to do.

The SAA offers more ideas for MayDay activities here: http://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives/ideas-for-mayday-activities

What can you do at home?

MayDay isn’t just a good idea for libraries, archives, and museums—it’s a good idea for everyone! Here are my top three ideas for ways you can celebrate MayDay at home.


  1. MayDay focuses on protecting the valuable historic materials that we keep, but preserving human life takes a higher priority, so my number one suggestion is to make an emergency plan for yourself/your family. For example, you can take 5 minutes today to plan how you’ll get out of your apartment if there’s a fire in the hallway, or to practice evacuating yourself and your dog out of your bedroom window.

(Also, check that your smoke detectors are functioning.)


  1. Check where you are storing your family papers, heirlooms, old photos, etc. If you are storing your valuable and historical material in any of the following types of places, consider whether you might be able to move them some place safer. We suggest that you don’t store valuable things…
    1. a place that gets very hot, damp, or cold—different types of items can tolerate different conditions (for example, cold storage is good for photos), but hot and damp environments make mold growth a greater concern, and environments that are too cold can make materials brittle. If you can, also avoid storing important things in a room that has wild fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
    2. in direct sunlight—if you have photos in a box that the sun shines on, you may be fine. If you have a pile of photos sitting in the sun, the sunlight will make them fade over time.
    3. directly under water pipes, in case they leak unexpectedly
    4. on the floor—if you have boxes on the floor and you can raise them up four inches (on cinder blocks, on shelves, on milk crates, get creative!), that might save you from a soggy mess if you have a leak or a very small flood.


  1. Back up your digital files AND keep track of your backups. It’s annoying, but it’s worth doing. Trust me.  I saved a lot of old Word documents and photos, including many of our dearly departed golden retriever, onto a backup hard drive, but thanks to poor tracking on my part, that old backup hard drive eventually contained the only copies of some of my files. Then, without warning, that hard drive stopped working. It’s also worth storing your backup copies away from your originals, if possible.

Photo of golden retriever in shirt

This photo of Riley lives on because it was saved on my work computer. Lots of copies keeps stuff safe!


"Do they want recognition?": Activism in the WVRHC's Collections

Jane Metters LaBarbara
April 24, 2017

Blog post by Ashleigh Coren, Visiting Librarian.


What happens when you search for “activist” in the West Virginia & Regional History Center? You’ll see the usual suspects like Mother Jones or John Brown, but, there are a few other gems worth exploring. Last fall I had the pleasure of interviewing bookseller and Appalachian scholar George Brosi, owner of Appalachian Mountain Books in Berea, Kentucky. George, who spent some time in Morgantown in the 1970s, spoke a great deal about the various examples of activism that took place during that time and also in the 1960s.  After our conversation I thought about what I might find in our collection, and as it turns out there’s some pretty fantastic items. 


Search #1 – Let’s start with our West Virginia & Regional History Center Website. On the right side of the webpage you’ll see a tab where you can select the type of collection you’re interested in exploring. Selected “Archives and Manuscripts.” I typed in activis* which in library language is what we call a “truncated search.” Using the asterisk after the “s” will provide results that include the words: activism, activist, and activists! Let’s dig into some of the results…


Document titled "Proposed Goals and Purposes of the Appalachian Alliance"


In 1977 West Virginians Jerry Hildebrand and James Hannah created the Appalachian Alliance, an advocacy group with members in various states in the region.[1] This small collection includes meeting minutes and other interesting tidbits.


WV Highlands Conservancy Publication regarding the Third Annual WV Highlands Weekend Review


The conservancy, which was founded in the mid-1960s, was an activist group formed to advocate for and preserve natural resources within the state of West Virginia.[2] Over the last fifty years the group has been highly successful and their work has helped the passage of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act and the National Forest Management Act.[3]


Memo from James F. Carruth with subject line "Recognition of S.D.S.?"


This interesting memo from James F. Carruth, then the Assistant Director of Student Educational Services, raises the issue of officially recognizing the WVU chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The document, addressed to university administrators including former WVU President James Harlow, includes Carruth’s impressions and the politics behind adding new student organizations.


Search #2 – West Virginia History OnView. Now that we’ve found some great paper-based collections, let’s discover some photographs! The results for this search, while tiny, are quite diverse and include WVU students and visiting luminaries like Dick Gregory and Ossie Davis. To search, I would encourage users to keep it simple and just look for “activist.”


Comedian and Anti-War Activist Dick Gregory, seated

During his Presidential Campaign in 1968 comedian and lifelong activist Dick Gregory visited the university.


Students sitting on the ground, one playing a dulcimer

In 1969 a number of WVU students staged a protest to support State Road Commission workers, who at the time were in a strike against former Governor Arch Moore.


Joe Ozanic (on right) and another man sitting in a cart at the Atlantic City Boardwalk

Joseph Ozanic was an officer of the Progressive Mine Workers of America, and was also a member of the United Mine Workers of America.


Stop by the Center (virtually or in-person), to learn more about these great collections!


[1] Franklin, B. A. (1982, March 13). AN OASIS IN APPALACHIA. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/14/travel/an-oasis-in-appalachia.html?pagewanted=all

[2] e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia “West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 November 2010. Web. 17 April 2017.

[3] West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://wvhighlands.org/about-us-2/