Letter from the Director

Hello everyone! Several weeks ago, during a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, I had an opportunity to visit the collections department of the museum and view Mary Harlan Lincoln’s cookbook. Cookbooks have a long and notable history. Four clay tablets dating back to 1700 BCE discovered in what was once Mesopotamia are thought to be the first recorded version of a cookbook. Another ancient example of a cookbook dates back to the 4th or 5th century. The book contains a collection of Greek and Roman dishes and ingredients include camel heels, peacock tongue, flamingo brains, and parrot heads. These ingredients and recipes would have been used by members of the lower-class to prepare meals exclusively enjoyed by the rich, upper-classes of society.

However, as mass printing and publishing developed in the 15th century and literacy rates began to rise in the 17th century, cookbooks became less of a luxury and more customary. In the spring of 1796, a woman named Amelia Simmons wrote what is believed to be the first cookbook written by an American and published in the United States. Women were the primary authors of American cookbooks and were an integral part of the publishing business by the mid-19th century. By the 20th century, cookbooks were some of the most popular bestsellers; when “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” was first published in 1950, its sales rivaled that of the Bible. Today, millions of recipes are online and cookbooks are continuously sold in the thousands. For more information on the history of cookbooks, consider reading The Origin and Early Development of Modern Cookbooks by Henry Notaker, “Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project” by Jan Longone, or “From Egyptian tombs to modern days: The history of cookbooks” by Tracy Mumford.

Mary Harlan Lincoln’s cookbook, housed in the collections department of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Cookbooks, like a diary or journal, tell the reader what was important to the author or collector of recipes at the time. Mary Harlan Lincoln’s collection of recipes included directions on how to cure bacon, make Rose’s cookies, and create popcorn hominy. These recipes demonstrate what influenced Mary’s life as she was collecting for her cookbook over time. Maybe bacon was Mary Harlan Lincoln’s favorite food. Perhaps the Rose of Rose’s cookies was Mary’s neighbor when her family lived in Chicago. Maybe the popcorn hominy was a childhood treat Mary brought to Washington, DC to remember her Midwestern roots. We may never know with certainty, but each recipe provides a glimpse into the past and Mary Harlan Lincoln’s life.

On behalf of the Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House and Iowa Wesleyan University, thank you for your continued support.

Madison Pullis

Director of the Harlan-Lincoln House

Brown Bag Lecture Series

In March 2022, the Harlan-Lincoln House hosted the Brown Bag Lecture Series. Four different lectures were presented, along with an opportunity for people to travel to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. 

Thank you to the insightful and engaging speakers as well as the dedicated audience members who attended the lecture series.

You can view all of the 2022 Brown Bag Lectures at youtube.com/IowaWesleyanUniversity.

Thank You to Our Donors

Annual memberships in the Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House organization advance the museum’s mission of preserving the house and its collection, interpreting the site to the public for its significance to the Harlan and Lincoln families, reinforcing the relationship to Iowa Wesleyan University, and fulfilling the home’s vital role in the living history of the University and the Mount Pleasant community. Support also allows the Harlan-Lincoln House to provide free admission as well as free educational programs throughout the year. The Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House are grateful for the continued support of our dedicated members. 


Honorable John Freeland

Mr. Fred Miller

Dr. Linwood and Mrs. Judith Miller

Mr. Bob Wustrow*

$500 – $999

Mr. Russell and Mrs. Diane Curtis

Mr.Richard and Dr. Elizabeth Garrels

The Harlan Family in America

Mr. Paul Juhl

Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Trickett

$100 – $499

Bainter & Thomas Law Office

The Hon. Steven and Mrs. Karen Brimhall

Mr. Paul and Mrs. Joyce Dennison
Ms. Marlys Dunphy

Ms. Mary Elgar

Mr. Tom and Mrs. Lynn Ellsworth

Mr. David and Mrs. Tricia File

Harlan History Sisters

Dr. Steve and Mrs. Chris Hedlund
Mr. David and Mrs. Cathy Helman

Mr. Richard Hileman and Mrs. Sara Gaarde

Dr. Byron and Mrs. Gloria Johnson

Mr. Ed Kropa

Mr. Thomas and Mrs. Regina Lembrich

Mr. Warren and Mrs. Jill Ludvigsen

Dr. Robert and Mrs. Barbara Miller

Dr. Carol Nemitz

Mr. Tom and Mrs. Marjorie Roth

Mr. David Rowland

Mrs. Kathy Schimmelpfennig

Mr. Randy Scott

Mr. Robert and Mrs. Charlotte Stevenson

Mr. Kent and Mrs. Pat White

Dr. Dolores Poulter Wilson

Mr. Richard and Mrs. Mary Beth Young


Dr. Kristine Condon

Mr. N. Robert and Mrs. Pamela Day

Ms. Diane Davis

Mr. Mark and Mrs. Linda Kimzey

Mrs. Rita R. King

Mr. Bradley and Mrs. Mary Notestein

Mrs. Anna and Mr. Nicholas Villareal

Mr. Larry and Dr. Lori Wright

Members of the Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House

The Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House recognizes its Charter Members who
established the Friends organization on September 1st, 2004.

Mr. Jerry and Mrs. Lea Bradley
Dr. Carole J. Buss, Col. USA Ret.
The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation
Mrs. Mary Helen Curtis
Mr. Paul and Mrs. Joyce Dennison, KILJ Inc.
Mr. Jim and Mrs. Marlene DePriest
Dr. A. Lowell Doud
The Dr. Alanson K. and Barbara Elgar Family
Mr. Tom and Mrs. Lynn Ellsworth
Mr. Richard E. and Dr. Elizabeth E. Garrels
Mr. Mike and Mrs. Anita Hampton
The Harlan Family in America
Mr. John and Mrs. Ann Harnisch
Miss Martha Hayes
The William M. and Donna J. Hoaglin Foundation
Dr. Waunita Hobbie
Dr. William N. and Mrs. Susan Johnston
Mr. Paul C. Juhl
Dr. Michael Kramme
The Lincoln Group of Washington D.C.
Mr. James and Mrs. Genevieve McCabe
The Mount Pleasant Duplicate Bridge Club
Dr. Carol Nemitz
The Pennebaker Foundation
Mr. Ken and Mrs. Bonnie Richart
The Ben and Lucile Taylor Estate
Mr. Dale and Mrs. Jodie Beck Wendel
Mr. Duane and Mrs. Martha Wiley
Mr. Earl and Mrs. Leslie Wilfong
Mr. Robert O. and Dr. Dolores Poulter Wilson
Mr. Cal and Mrs. Margaret Wolf
Mr. Donald E. Young


Quarterly Quandary

For this edition of the Quarterly Quandary, I will be testing you, the reader, to identify part of the collection found at the Harlan-Lincoln House. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, museum staff and volunteers have been cataloguing each artifact into a museum cataloguing database that helps track each object’s location, condition, and provenance (or record of ownership). This object is one that has been on display at the museum for a while.

Have you seen it before? Can you identify this object? Send your guesses and any stories you might have to Madison at hlhouse@iw.edu and check back in the next newsletter for answers!


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