Gather ‘Round the Table, We’ll Give You a Treat

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

It’s almost Hanukkah, a time to light the candles, spin the dreidel, and argue about how to spell the name of the holiday.

It’s also a time to eat foods fried in oil, traditionally potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot), a remembrance of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days to rededicate the Temple after its defilement by the Greeks.1

If you are looking to expand the offerings on your holiday table this year, Mildred Grosberg Bellin’s The Jewish Cook Book (New York, 1941) does not disappoint. She provides an elaborate “Menu for Channucah”:

The "Channucah" menu in Bellin's Jewish Cook Book, 1941.

The “Channucah” menu in Bellin’s Jewish Cook Book, 1941.

Click on an image to view each recipe listed:

The “Seven Layer Schalet” not enough dessert for you? The Economical Jewish Cook (London, 1897) offers a 30-minute recipe for “Hanucah Cakes.”

"Hanucah Cakes" in Henry's Economical Jewish Cook, 1897.

“Hanucah Cakes” in Henry’s Economical Jewish Cook, 1897.

And what would the holiday be without doughnuts? Here are a selection of recipes, one from the Brooklyn Jewish Women’s Relief Association’s A Book for a Cook (1909) and the rest from The International Jewish Cook Book (New York, 1918).

Recipe for doughnuts in the Jewish Women's Association's A Book for a Cook, 1909.

Recipe for doughnuts in the Jewish Women’s Association’s A Book for a Cook, 1909.

Several doughnut options from Greenbaum's The International Jewish Cook Book, 1918.

Several doughnut options from Greenbaum’s The International Jewish Cook Book, 1918.

If you try making any of these recipes, please let us know and share a picture of the results.


1. Yes, we know the holiday commemorates a military victory, too.

Item of the Month: Boston City Hospital, Christmas 1912

By Rebecca Pou, Archivist


Click to enlarge.

A slim volume from our collections provides a glimpse of the holiday festivities at a public American hospital more than 100 years ago. In Boston City Hospital, Christmas 1912 we find eight photographs documenting the hospital’s holiday adornments and celebrations. The stark black and white photos of vaulted ceilings and nearly empty rooms don’t paint the cheeriest picture of the holidays, but clearly the staff put a great deal of effort into the celebrations.

These are pictures of the spaces more than the people in them. We see patients in their beds and the kitchen staff waiting for their holiday meal, but the people seem almost incidental. Some of the shots focus on the feasts on the table and the Christmas tree, while others capture the entire ward with garlands hanging from the ceiling and wreaths on the walls. These images are striking in part because the hospital’s large, communal wards look so different from patient settings in hospitals today.


In A History of the Boston City Hospital from its Foundation until 1904, we find out a bit more about Christmas at the hospital. “Christmas trees lighted by electric bulbs” and decorated with gifts for every patient spruced up the convalescent wards.1 If you look closely at the Christmas tree above, there appear to be several small dolls in its branches.

Boston City Hospital opened in 1864. From February 1, 1912, through January 31, 1913, the hospital treated almost 13,000 people with an average of 550 residents per day. About one third of the patients were natives of Massachusetts, but patients born in 61 other countries spent time in the hospital over the course of the year. The largest number of those came from Ireland, but the annual report lists patients born in Syria (25), Barbados (5), the Fiji Islands (1), and New Zealand (2), as well as many other locations.2 The hospital merged with the Boston University Medical Center in 1996, forming the Boston Medical Center.3

Click through the gallery below for the rest of the photos from Boston City Hospital, Christmas 1912.


1. A History of the Boston City Hospital from its Foundation until 1904. Boston: Municipal Printing Office, 1906.

2. Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Boston City Hospital, 1912-1913. Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1913.

3. History. Boston University, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine. Retrieved December 17, 2013.

Thanksgiving, 1914 Style

By Rebecca Pou, Archivist, and Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

Still working on your Thanksgiving Day food planning? How about recreating a menu published 100 years ago?

In The Calendar of Dinners: A Daily Blessing to the Housekeeper, author Kate S. Teetshorn recommends a meal for every day of 1914, including Thanksgiving. Each menu is accompanied by a recipe or two. Recipes for some of the Thanksgiving menu suggestions are found on other days of the year, but unfortunately, she doesn’t include recipes to go along with all the recommendations (know how to make hot butter thins? Please tell us. They sound delicious). 

November 26, Thanksgiving Day

Below are additional recipes she provides, some that sound appropriate to the holiday or similar to the recommended dishes, and a closing poem.


Hungry for more? Check out this pumpkin pie recipe from 1804. We bet it would go well with ginger ice cream, as Teetshorn recommends.