Born five years before the Civil War as the daughter of an enslaved cook, little Emma Wilson wanted to go to school with her white friends. She was told she couldn’t because of her race, and after the Civil War she was told she couldn’t because she was a girl. Through her determination, she kept pace with the class outside of school. When the time finally came that she could attend school, she was placed within her grade.
Emma Wilson, founder and principal of the Maysville Industrial and Educational Institute
Wilson’s commitment to education and her great desire to assist others of her locale and race made her change her plans from ministering in Africa to building a local school in her hometown of Maysville, South Carolina. The school began in the kitchen of her mother’s cabin in 1885. It quickly grew and was incorporated as the Maysville Industrial and Educational Institute. After a few years Wilson became committed to teaching not only liberal arts, but also skills such as blacksmithing, sewing, and cooking.
Fannie Farmer taught plain cooking, richer cooking, and fancy cooking at the Boston Cooking School from circa 1896 to 1902. She then branched out and started her own school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery on August 23, 1902. the school continued after her death in 1915, managed by Alice Bradley until Miss Farmer’s School closed in the mid-1940s.
Mashed and Boiled Potatoes
Fried Fish & Potatoes
The Pioneer kitchen at the museum in Watertown New York is the scene for hands-on pioneer kitchen work for children during the Pioneer Times program. On the other side of the room you can see over 50 years in the future to a Victorian kitchen — a good way to compare historic kitchens side-by-side!
The Farmer’s Museum, also in upstate New York, holds workshops including A Morning at Lippitt Farmstead where you will collect eggs and other morning farm chores before helping to cook and then eat a farm breakfast of traditional foods such as sausage, eggs, Indian Cake, toast, and boiled coffee.
More Classes Jourdan Bachman Pioneer Farm in Austin, Texas has a fun class catalog. And more often would be good! Like
I‘m giving credit to Juliet Corson, founder of the New York Cooking School in 1876, as being the inspiration that began the craze for cooking schools and cooking classes in the United States. Her book, Cooking School Text Book and Housekeepers’ Guide, published in 1879 by Orange Judd Company, laid out the directions for others to open schools, with explanations on furnishings, teacher requirements, and course content.
1876: New York Cooking School, St Mark’s Place — director/teacher Juliet Corson
Maria Parloa taught cooking in Boston circa 1877, Mandarin, Florida c. 1878, and New York City in 1881.
1879-1903: The Boston Cooking School — preceded by Women’s Education Association; directors/teachers Joanna Sweeney, Mary Lincoln, and then Fannie Farmer, and guest lecturer, Maria Parloa — Boston, Mass.
c. 1879: The New Century Club Cooking School –Philadelphia
1883: The Philadelphia Cooking School — director/teacher Sarah Tyson Rorer
Click here for a list of Cooking Schools, or Domestic Science departments, in the United States in 1905. The article begins on page 174. Included are notes such as the Boston Cooking School, with the writer, Fannie Farmer as principal, cost $125 per 6 months, the same as Simmons College in Boston. Another Massachusetts school, The State Normal School in Framingham, had one of the largest Domestic Science departments in the country. The Philadelphia Cooking School, is listed with Mrs. Rorer as principal, another famous cook book writer.