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Cannon, Poppy (2 Aug. 1905–1 April 1975), cookbook author, journalist, and advertising executive, was born Lillian Gruskin in Cape Town, South Africa, to Robert and Henrietta Gruskin, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. (Henrietta’s maiden name is unknown.) The family moved to the United States in ...

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Chen, Joyce (14 September 1917–23 August 1994), restaurateur, author, and chef, was born Liao Jia-ai in Beijing, China, the daughter of Liao Xin-shi, a railroad administrator and city executive; her mother’s family name was Wu. As a high-ranking Chinese official, Chen’s father was able to employ several servants, but both parents encouraged Chen to learn to do things for herself. She often recalled her mother warning, “You had better learn how to cook … so you don’t [ever] have to eat raw rice” ( ...

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Child, Julia (15 August 1912–13 August 2004), cookbook author and television chef, was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams in Pasadena, California, the eldest of three children of John McWilliams and Carolyn (Caro) Weston. Both of her parents came from wealth and could trace their lineage to the first Anglo settlers in North America. John McWilliams was a leading patron of Pasadena's civic institutions; Julia was raised among the city's social elite, and her family was a fixture at nearby exclusive beach resorts. Julia enjoyed an active, privileged childhood. She attended several local private schools, including the Polytechnic School and the Katharine Branson School, and then, following her mother's wishes, Smith College, from which she graduated in 1934. Social life was, by all accounts, far more interesting than schoolwork. She was, in her words, “really only a butterfly” whose delight in outdoor sports and school escapades was legendary. Her six-foot three-inch height was legendary too. It gave Julia physical and social presence, and her mother was concerned that Julia and her sister would never marry....

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Chu, Grace Zia (23 April 1899–15 April 1999), cooking authority and writer, was born Grace Anna Zia in Shanghai, China, one of nine children of Zia Hong-lai, a Christian religious educator and editor, and Zok-tsung Sze, who was active in the Chinese division of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), a U.S.-based organization that promoted Christian fellowship among women throughout the world. Grace was educated at local institutions run by Protestant missionaries, including the McTyeire School for Girls in Shanghai, which awarded her a secondary school diploma in 1918. The family was orphaned at about this time, and Grace remained at home for a while to help care for her siblings. In 1920 she enrolled at Ginling College in Nanjing and studied there for a year. Through the American YWCA, and with the help of a grant from the McCormick family of Chicago, she received a scholarship to Wellesley College, an all-female institution near Boston, Massachusetts, which had previously welcomed other Chinese students....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Farmer, Fannie Merritt (23 March 1857–15 January 1915), cooking school director and cookbook author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Franklin Farmer, a printer, and Mary Watson Merritt. Her parents moved to Medford, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, when she was a child. Her parents, stalwart Unitarians, believed strongly in education for their four daughters, and although they were none-too-well-off financially, Fannie looked forward to a college education. These plans were dashed while she was still at Medford High School, for she was stricken with an ailment—likely polio—that left her bedridden for many months, an invalid for some years, and partially paralyzed for the rest of her life....

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E. D. Lloyd-Kimbrel

Fisher, M. F. K. (03 July 1908–22 June 1992), writer, was born Mary Frances Kennedy in Albion, Michigan, the daughter of Rex Brenton Kennedy, a newspaper editor, and Edith Oliver Holbrook, a real estate broker. When Fisher was three years old, the family moved to the Quaker community of Whittier, California, where her father took over the editorship of the local newspaper. The Kennedys were Episcopal and somewhat “outside the faith” in their new home. Rex Kennedy continued as editor of the ...

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Hazan, Marcella (15 April 1924–29 September 2013), teacher of Italian cooking and cookbook author, was born Marcella Polini in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, in what was then the small fishing village of Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast. Her father, Giuseppe Polini, was a tailor. Her mother, Maria, whose maiden name was Riccardo, was a member of a family of expatriate Italians living in the Middle East....

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Herrick, Christine Terhune (13 June 1859–02 December 1944), cookbook author and household affairs writer, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Edward Payson Terhune, a minister, and Mary Virginia Hawes, a writer. Christine was educated primarily at home by tutors. Her mother, a respected author whose pen name was ...

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Jaramillo, Cleofas Martínez (06 December 1878–30 November 1956), folklorist, writer, and businesswoman, was born in the northern New Mexican village of Arroyo Hondo, the daughter of Julian Antonio Martínez, a landholder who raised sheep and cattle, farmed, and engaged in the mercantile trade, and Marina Lucero de Martínez. Both parents were descended from Spanish pioneers who settled the territory for New Spain in the late sixteenth century. One of seven children, Jaramillo spent her early years amidst the pleasures and hard work of a prosperous, upper-class, large country household. At age nine she entered the Loretto Convent School in Taos, New Mexico, and later attended the Loretto Academy in Santa Fe. There she was courted by her cousin, Colonel Venceslao Jaramillo, whom she married in Taos in 1898. After a wedding trip to California, they settled in El Rito....

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Kander, Lizzie Black (28 May 1858–24 July 1940), settlement founder and cookbook author, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of John Black, an owner of a dry goods store, and Mary Pereles, a native of Austria. Lizzie was raised within a Jewish Reform tradition of service to the poor. She graduated from Milwaukee High School in 1878 and married Simon Kander, a clothing salesman, on 17 May 1881. The couple had no children....

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Eliza Leslie. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103454).

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Leslie, Eliza (15 November 1787–01 January 1858), writer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Robert Leslie, a watchmaker, and Lydia Baker. Like many female children of her time, Leslie was privately tutored in French and music and attended school only for a few months, to learn needlework. From 1793 to 1799 the family lived in London, where her father exported watches and clocks to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the American side of the business was sorely mismanaged, and after the death of her father in 1803, Eliza and her mother were forced to open their home to boarders. While her brother ...

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Lincoln, Mary Johnson Bailey (08 July 1844–02 December 1921), educator and culinary writer, was born in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, the daughter of the Reverend John Milton Burnham Bailey and Sarah Morgan Johnson. Although raised with limited means, Bailey felt that the prestige of being in a ministerial household helped form her strong, industrious character. Her father died when she was seven, and she began to earn money for her own expenses by taking factory work in Attleboro, sewing hooks and eyes on cards, and setting stones in jewelry. Her mother then moved the family to Norton, Massachusetts, so that her daughters would be educated at Wheaton Seminary while she served as a housemother there. While a student Bailey continued to do her share of the housework and made hair nets for the seminary girls....

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Parloa, Maria (25 September 1843–21 August 1909), teacher of cooking and pioneer in home economics education, was born in Massachusetts; no records have been found of her parentage or exact place of birth. Orphaned in her youth, Parloa supported herself by working as a cook in private homes and as a pastry cook in several New Hampshire hotels, notably the Appledore House on the Isles of Shoals. In 1871, at the age of twenty-eight, she enrolled in the normal school of the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. The following year she published ...

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Pennell, Elizabeth Robins (21 Feb. 1855–7 Feb. 1936), author, art critic, and culinary writer, was born Elizabeth Robins in Philadelphia to Edward Robins, a member of the Philadelphia Exchange, and Margaret Miller, who died shortly after giving birth to her. In spite of the family’s devout Episcopalian background, Robins converted to Catholicism and enrolled his daughter in a convent at Conflans, France, and then at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Torresdale, a suburb of Philadelphia, where she was a bright, capable student. At the Convent of the Sacred Heart, she met Agnes Repplier, who would also go on to become a writer, with whom she maintained a lifelong friendship....

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Randolph, Mary (09 August 1762–23 January 1828), cookbook author, was born in Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph, a wealthy planter and colonial legislator, and Anne Cary. Her tombstone lists her birthplace as Ampthill, the home of her mother’s family near Richmond, but some genealogists believe that she may have been born at “Tuckahoe,” her father’s plantation in Goochland County. Nicknamed Molly, she was raised with the expectation that she would marry a man whose lineage was as distinguished as her own. After receiving elementary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, she was trained in the household arts and also took lessons in dancing, music, and drawing. In 1780 she wed a cousin, David Meade Randolph, a revolutionary war officer and tobacco planter. Both Molly and her husband were distant cousins of ...

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Rombauer, Irma (30 October 1877–14 October 1962), cookbook author, was born Irma Louise von Starkloff in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Dr. H. Max von Starkloff, a physician, and Emma Kuhlmann. Her mother, who emigrated from Germany around 1873, had worked in one of the first St. Louis kindergartens, in addition to being a governess for a prominent family. In 1889, when Dr. Starkloff was appointed American consul in Bremen, Germany, the family moved to Europe. Irma studied in “finishing” schools in Lausanne and Geneva and spoke both French and German fluently. She recalled in her later years, “I was brought up to be a ‘young lady’ ”—the thought of which made her smile and laugh. “I played the piano poorly, embroidered and sewed, painted on china and entertained ‘gentlemen callers.’ ” After the family returned to St. Louis in 1894, she took art classes at Washington University....

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Rorer, Sarah Tyson (18 October 1849–27 December 1937), cooking teacher and diet reformer, was born Sarah Tyson Heston in Richboro, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Tyson Heston, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Sagers. The family resided in Buffalo, New York, but Elizabeth Heston returned to her mother’s home for the delivery of her firstborn. “Sallie,” as she was called, grew up in the Buffalo area and attended East Aurora Academy, a female seminary. She later attributed the beginnings of her interest in cooking reform to her father’s poor health and delicate digestion resulting from service in the Civil War. Around 1869 the family returned to eastern Pennsylvania, and in 1871 Sallie Heston married William Albert Rorer, a clerk/bookkeeper, in Philadelphia’s Second Reformed Church. The couple had three children, one of whom died in early childhood....

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Terhune, Mary Virginia Hawes (21 December 1830–03 June 1922), novelist and domestic expert, was born in Dennisville, Amelia County, Virginia. She was the second of seven surviving children of Samuel Pierce Hawes, a merchant originally from Massachusetts, and Judith Anna Smith Hawes, the daughter of well-to-do Virginia planters. Mary Virginia’s father gave his precocious daughter early access to classic literature and provided her with a broad education unusual for a southern girl of the period. She was schooled at home by tutors and governesses and spent two years attending a Presbyterian girls’ seminary in Richmond after the family moved to that city in 1845....