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Posts by Roberta Saltzman

From Sanitary Fairs to "The Settlement": Early Charity Cookbooks

One hundred and fifty years ago, as the Civil War raged, the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was busy raising money to improve conditions for Union soldiers. Early on in the war, people realized that, in addition to the terrible loss of life during the battles, an appalling number of casualties occurred because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical care. One very successful method of fundraising by the USSC was "Sanitary Fairs"—exhibitions and festivals held throughout the Northern states. Merchandise for sale at the fairs might include clothing, toys, tobacco, 

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Playing With Matches: Jewish Deli Ephemera

Hot pastrami. Three decker sandwiches with chopped liver, corned beef, tomatoes and bermuda onion. Hungarian beef goulash with noodles. Stuffed derma with kasha. These artery-clogging delicacies are no longer available at the Stage Delicatessen, which closed late last year after 75 years as a New York City landmark. The Stage was one of the relatively few remaining "Jewish-style" (but decidedly unkosher) delicatessens in New York.

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"The Hobbit" and Other Classics in Yiddish

"The Hobbit" in YiddishIf you're as eager as I am to see the movie version of The Hobbit, then you'll be excited to hear about the brand-new translation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic into Yiddish. OK, maybe not; possibly you don't read Yiddish. But the recent publication of Der Hobit offers a good opportunity to illustrate one of the strengths of the Dorot Jewish Division.

"The Cat in 

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The Emperor of the United States

Some people are already tired of hearing about the 2012 election campaign. But they should be grateful for our election process, because our democratically-elected government was once a monarchy. No, I'm not referring to the British royal family. I'm talking about Joshua Abraham Norton, the self-styled "Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico" — and surely one of the most eccentric American Jews of the nineteenth century. You can read about his exploits in books from the Dorot Jewish 

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"The Biggest Library in the World Opens Today": NYPL in the Yiddish Press

You probably already know that the New York Public Library's flagship building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street will celebrate its centennial on May 23. There will be galas, games, lectures, and all kinds of activities for young and old. But what about opening day in 1911? There was less gaming, probably, and no smartphone apps to help you locate treasures. Nevertheless, according to newspaper accounts, it was a grand event for New York and the entire country, attended not only 

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Happy New Year, Circa 1910: Pop-up Greeting Cards in the Jewish Division

If you visit your local stationery store in September, you may well find a small selection of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) cards. The cards will probably have the standard Hebrew greeting for the new year, Le-shanah tovah tikatevu (literally, "May you be inscribed for a good year"). They may be serious, as befits a greeting card for the "Days of Awe," or light-hearted. (I saw one recently that showed a man asking his neighbor, "How's your New Year going?" Answer: "Shofar, so good").  It's 

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Ready with Opekta in 10 Minutes: A Culinary Footnote to the Holocaust

Why does the Dorot Jewish Division have in its cookbook collection a booklet of pectin recipes? After all, pectin—a gelling agent used in making jams, pie fillings, and jellybeans, among other things—may be very useful in confectionery, but it's hardly a staple ingredient in Jewish cookery. Yet one particular manufacturer of pectin played a fateful role in the life of a certain Jewish family during World War II.

"Opekta," a name 

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Snappy Eats of 1932: Jewish Community Cookbooks

Here in the Dorot Jewish Division, we have over 400 cookbooks that were published outside the United States: from Canada and Mexico, South America, Asia (including Israel, of course), Oceania, and Africa (including a cookbook from Melilla, the city on the north coast of Morocco that's actually part of Spain).

Some of the more unusual locales represented are the Bahamas (The Bah-Haimisha 

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Famous Recipes for Jewish Housewives: Advertising Booklets in the Jewish Division

Manischewitz, Hebrew National, Wolff's Kasha, Empire Kosher Poultry--it's no surprise that these companies have produced Jewish cookbooks over the years. But advertising booklets have been around since the nineteenth century, and lots of (non-Jewish) companies have tried to attract Jewish customers with recipe booklets, a wide array of which can be 

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