A Depression Era Thanksgiving Meal from WOI

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching – the holiday season is here!  Holiday recipes can be found in a variety of places in Special Collections, including homemaking radio show scripts from the WOI Radio and Television Records (RS 5/6/3).  Homemaking radio shows were popular during the early to middle part of the 20th century, and Iowa State’s own WOI hosted programs for homemakers, including Homemaker’s Half Hour. Homemaker’s Half Hour aired over WOI radio from the late 1920s through the early 1960s.

We have script books from Homemaker’s Half Hour here in our University Archives.  These scripts contain recipes which are often chosen based on upcoming holidays or time of year.  Below are Thanksgiving recipes from the first Homemaker’s Half Hour script book in the WOI records – from 1937 (earlier script books can be found in other collections – see below for a few links to these finding aids).  The recipes include crown of pork, apple and raisin stuffing, spiced cranberry stuffing, mock duck, and pumpkin chiffon pie.  You can click on the pages to get a larger image.

The recipe for Spiced Cranberry Stuffing (for Pork Shoulder or Crown) on the second page might be useful those of you who bought an overabundance of fresh cranberries – or if you just like cranberries!:

2 cups ground (uncooked) cranberries

1 cup sugar

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

cold water

Sweeten cranberries and combine with bread crumbs.  Add spices and baking powder, and mix well.  Add enough cold water to moisten and pack lightly into cavity in pork shoulder or crown.  Roast meat as usual.

You will probably notice that there is no turkey in the array of recipes.  Is this a Depression or Dust Bowl era phenomenon?  Was it more practical to raise pigs and sheep?  Whatever the reason for the lack of turkey in the Thanksgiving script above, the recipes look delicious!

The Homemaker’s Half Hour 1937 script book and more can be found in the WOI Radio and Television Records (RS 6/6/3), and the finding aid is available online.  Other Homemaker’s Half Hour materials can also be found in other collections, including the Winifred R. Tilden Papers (RS 10/7/11) and the Barbara Ellen Forker Papers (RS 10/7/13).  Information on the library’s Iowa Cookbook Collection can be found here.

If you are interested in taking a look at some of the homemaking radio show records, please come visit us here in Special Collections.  However, if you would like to make photocopies of any of the materials please ask first.  The script books in the WOI records are not easy to photocopy.

More on homemaking radio shows here at Iowa State and in Iowa can be found in this earlier post.

5 thoughts on “A Depression Era Thanksgiving Meal from WOI

    • Laura

      Good point about the mock duck versus mock turkey! I’m not sure if other cookbooks/newspaper recipes are short on turkey recipes for 1937, or the 1930s in general for that matter. Or how many domestic or wild turkeys existed in Iowa at that time. If I only had more time, it would be an interesting thing to investigate! Thanks for your comment.

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