Perhaps one of the more unique set of recipes within the Lynchburg Museum’s collection comes from Dr. John J. Terrell, a Civil War-era doctor who worked out of Old City Cemetery’s Pest House.
Listed on a single sheet of paper, the header “French cooking” scrawled across the top, the recipes were written down alongside love notes and poetry for Terrell’s wife. The poem on the back of the paper, “To My Wife,” was written in 1857, the same year they got married, according to museum staffers.
The piece of paper was discovered in the archives by Lynchburg Museum guide Ellen Glickman as she worked on the museum’s latest pop-up exhibition. It was on display earlier this month during First Friday and has evolved into a bigger project the museum and its staffers will see into the new year.
As she collected items related to her assigned topic — food, cookery, recipes and markets — “the name of the game was finding any recipes I could,” Glickman says.
Discovering the Terrell recipes alongside love notes and poems was an unexpected coup.
She also found individual recipes and cookbooks — including “A Taste of Virginia,” which features recipes paired with different Virginia landmarks, Lynchburg’s Point of Honor among them — as well as artifacts and booklets put out by local companies.
They include a holiday-themed booklet from the Lynchburg Oil Company that features 11 pages held together with a tasseled cord and a short introduction touting its goal to “add variety to tradition and lend ease to your home entertaining;” a booklet from an American Association of University Women tasting luncheon held in 1980, with handwritten notations about some of the recipes; and the 1970-era recipe collection “Look What’s Cooking at Harry Haga’s Annual Cooking School,” which was based on a program held at the old Plaza Theatre in 1973.
“She just took it and ran with it,” museum curator Emily Kubota says of Glickman. “I just expected her to pull out a few artifacts. ... She had the idea to make it more interactive and meaningful.”
Over a period of about two and a half months, what’s now called the Lynchburg Recipe Project was born as Glickman and other staffers scanned in some of those original recipes, then printed them out and compiled them into binders so First Friday visitors could page through them.
“It’s always great when people can get as close to our stuff as they can,” Glickman says.
Several museum staff members also made dishes based on some of the recipes, including one for stuffed tomatoes detailed on the Terrell paper, for First Friday, where attendees also were encouraged to copy down recipes that interested them and add their own to the collection.
Now the Lynchburg Recipe Project will be making its way to the Lynchburg Community Market, where the museum will have a semi-permanent booth set up sometime in the new year.
Kubota says they’ll be sharing recipes and gathering new ones but also hope residents will consider sharing other items, ranging from family photos to cookbooks to cooking tools.
“It’s not just recipes [but] ... objects we’re looking for.”
The pop-up exhibit already netted one major contribution: Two cookbooks that likely were used by Amelia Perry Pride, one of Lynchburg’s first black teachers, and her adopted daughter Caroline C. Smith, donated by descendants of Pride.
Pride, among many other accomplishments, founded a cooking school out of her Madison Street home in 1903, work that “had a lasting impact on home economics education in the city’s public school system,” according to exhibition materials. She also was principal of the segregated Polk Street School for 20 years and founded the Dorchester Home for impoverished and elderly black women.
A 1902 edition of “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” has “Amelia E P Pride” written in pencil on the second page, according to the exhibit, which theorizes she may have used the book while operating her cooking school.
The other book, 1921’s “A Book of Recipes for the Cooking School” has “Sis C’s book” written on the inside cover, likely referring to Smith, who was taken in by the Pride family when she was 9, according to the museum.
Kubota says Glickman included information about the contributions of African Americans to Virginia culinary history in the exhibit, something that isn’t always recognized when discussing the topic.
“Recipes are really something that’s cross-generational, [across] social classes, race,” Kubota says. “Food is something everyone can understand. The recipes you see reflect all types of backgrounds in Lynchburg.”
Ellen Glickman is the daughter of BH Media Regional Editor Caroline Glickman.
Casey Gillis is the features editor at The News & Advance and editor of weekly entertainment publication The Burg. Reach her at (434) 385-5525.