Readers of Early Modern Recipes

by Kristina Duemmler, UNC Charlotte

I have always been fascinated with reading. Many people believe that reading is a static activity that does not reveal important information about readers; but reading practices are everywhere, and they reveal a lot about readers. This is especially true when looking at Early Modern recipes. 

I recently graduated with my B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and will be a student in the M.A. Program in English there in the fall. I am a member of the English honors program. As part of the program, I am expected to conduct research and produce a thesis. When thinking about topics for my research, my mind immediately turned to readers.

I looked for an area of study that had little research on readers, and that is when I encountered Early Modern recipes for the first time. As I scanned through these wonderful works that held so much history, I couldn’t help but notice the many instances of marks that hinted at the activities readers participated in.

I immediately went online to look for scholars that had already looked at readers of recipe books. I was sure that there would be a lot of research that I could study, but I was mistaken. There was little research done on the practices of Early Modern recipe book readers. Thus, my thesis idea was born.

I spent the rest of the semester hunched over Kristine Kowalchuk’s Preserving on Paper, specifically her transcribed version of Mary Granville’s Receipt Book. I also spent a large amount of time analyzing images from the original Receipt Book (Oh, what I would have given to be able to go to the Folger’s Library and look at the text in person).

Through these months of analysis, two things occurred. One, I found clear areas where readers engaged with the text in meaningful ways, and these meaningful interactions told me a lot about the readers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Two, and almost as important as the first, I developed a deep respect for receipt books and for the transcription and preservation of these texts.

Now, after my long-winded explanation, I will share the fun and fascinating things I found within Mary Granville’s Receipt Book.

Stains

The stains that occurred within the Granville project were the first things I noticed when looking at the manuscript. These beautiful little mistakes can tell a lot about the reader and about the text itself.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Pages 18 and 25

The stain that is pictured above appears on page 18. The spot is directly on top of the writing. Since the stain appears on top of the writing, I speculate that the stain occurred after the writing of this recipe. Thus, it might have occurred during the reading of the recipe and might have been caused by the reader.

If my assumptions are correct, that would place the recipe book within the confines of the kitchen. It would also suggest that this was not a text that was read leisurely. Instead, this text was used and practiced. The recipes were read and then acted out.

Annotations

Annotations are another part of recipe books that interested me. Annotations can tell us a lot about the readers intentions. I could say a lot about annotations, but I am short on words. So instead I will focus on corrections made to the text.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 165.

The recipe for making spanish pap has been edited. The original recipe called for two yolks of eggs; however, the two has been written over with a four. This annotation occurs in a different hand from the author, so I am guessing that it was the reader who made the correction.

If it was in fact the reader making this correction, then it shows us that the reader used this recipe and made improvements to the recipe to suit her needs. This is important because it shows that the readers were active readers that individualized the text.

As Elaine Leong argues in her article, Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household, readers of receipt books had “a desire to personalize and adapt these collections to one’s own requirements” (Leong).

Manicules

Last, but certainly not least, I looked at manicules. Manicules are fascinating and, once again, show the practices that readers participated in.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 102.

Once again, here is a moment where the reader is interacting with the text. This manicule is pointing out a particular recipe of interest. The reader could be marking the recipe to show that it was tried and successful, or the reader could be marking the recipe so that he or she could quickly find the recipe again in the future.

One interesting note about the manicule is the unique and individualized nature of them. While manicules share some basic features, like a pointing finger, their appearance is extremely distinctive. Distinct manicules were a way for the reader to make the text meaningful and their own. Readers created manicules, not only to point to important passages, but to also share in the making of texts. They wanted to create a text that was specific to their needs. The readers created a text that was individual and unique.

If my findings are correct, then it suggests that the readers of recipe books were active readers that engaged with the manuscripts in meaningful ways. Readers also individualized the text to suit their specific needs. 

After conducting my research, I was pleased with my findings and with the time I spent analyzing the Granville receipt book. I look forward to future research I may conduct involving recipe books.

Resources:

Leong, Elaine. Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household. Centaurus, 2013

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Pages 18 and 25

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 165.

Granville, Mary, D’Ewes, Anne. “Receipt Book.” The Granville Project, Folger Shakespeare Library. V.a. 430. Page 102.

Exploring Recipe Transcriptions with Voyant in the Classroom

By Heather Froehlich

The below post is a summary of a classroom activity executed in Spring 2019 and developed as part of the EMROC teaching partnership at Penn State University with Dr. Marissa Nicosia (Penn State Abington). Students at Penn State Abington can enroll in a 1-credit, 3-semester cycle of the Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities (ACURA) initiative. For more content related to Penn State Abington’s involvement in EMROC-related activities, please see the Penn State Abington tag. This post has been cross-posted, with some light edits, at Heather Froehlich’s blog

This semester I have partnered with Dr Marissa Nicosia (Penn State Abington) on an undergraduate research course she runs on Early Modern recipes in collaboration with my colleague Christina Riehman-Murphy as part of the larger Early Modern Recipes Online Collective initiative. In this course, students transcribe recipes from a 17thcentury recipe book using Dromio (transcribe.folger.edu), learn about Early Modern food culture and history, and develop a lot of hands-on research experience with Marissa, Christina and me. This semester we and our students were focusing on a medicinal and cookery book associated with Anne Western, owned by Folger Shakespeare Library and affectionately called MS V.b.380.

This course has a pretty serious transcription element, where one of the requirements was that each student would transcribe 40 openings using Dromio throughout the semester. Since each student was responsible for submitting a Word file of their transcriptions to Marissa for grading, we then had a substantial (but not complete) coverage of the volume to work with. And it could be easily be loaded into Voyant Tools for some linguistic exploration. 

Over the course of the semester, students have also grown increasingly comfortable with the differences between contemporary and early modern recipes with regards to both genre and format, so we wanted to get them to think about the language of recipes more pointedly. The students were already experts in the language and style of the author they were working with. And since the students were so intimately familiar with the work they had already done, it was a little less of a hard sell to get them to think about their work from a more birds-eye view and think about what the language of their recipes looked like in aggregate.

Before class met, we asked the students read three contemporary chocolate chip cookie recipes.[1] We had a brief discussion about the overall form of these contemporary recipes before dropping them in Voyant to practice reading from a birds-eye view. Chocolate chip cookie recipes, as you may have guessed, do not have a whole lot of variation, making this a pretty low-stakes way to introduce the various features of Voyant, which are labelled below using the corresponding numbers: word cloud (1), reading pane (2), general trends over time (3, not particularly useful for this genre), some basic statistics (4) and concordance (5). 

3 chocolate chip cookie recipes in Voyant
Three chocolate chip cookie recipes in Voyant

Using the word cloud (1), students can visualize medium-to-high frequency content words in their corpus. With the reading pane (2), users of Voyant can observe a larger context for specific vocabulary. The general trends over time (3) graph shows overall variation across our three chocolate chip cookie recipes, where each (faint) box represents 1 recipe; it graphs the most frequent content words identified by the Voyant system for comparison. Box (4) offers some basic statistics, including a type/token ratio or lexical density score for each document and some of the overall most frequent content words in each document. Finally, box (5) allows users to identify salient lexico-grammatical patterns in a keyword in context concordance format (words to the left, keyword, words to the right). This is less about linear reading (page 1, word 1 to page 375, word 238561) but vertically to observe recurrent phrases or types of language.

Once they were comfortable with the idea, we ramped up the stakes a little. In small groups, our students looked at their own transcriptions in Voyant, taking notes on what made their sections of the corpus similar and different to each other. This process was designed to get the students to think about what their recipes were doing not just stylistically but linguistically, too: what are the lexical ingredients of their recipes? This primed for discussions about polysemy (apound of something vs pound the ingredient) and words marking for measurement (spoon). One group even discussed the importance of the verb minglingas a way to describe mixing things together in one student’s particular section of the recipe book. 

Now used to the software and the process, we looked at the full class corpus (a compiled file consisting of all the students’ submissions). Students and faculty partners practiced some close reading, identifying terms of interest and looking at them using Voyant’s concordance feature, including a variety of ingredients (sugar, water, butter, mace, rosemary) and verbs for actions chefs may use (again, back to ‘mingling’ and ‘stir’).

VB380 class corpus in Voyant
Looking at the class corpus in Voyant Tools

And though we had been discussing the role of V.b 380 as a medicinal and cookery book throughout the semester, this was thrown in sharp relief while the we all thought about the language of the class corpus. Certainly one big surprise was the relative importance of ‘sugar’ compared to ‘water’ in v.b.380. We were very struck by the lack of fixed vocabulary for the recipes, though we all had a pretty clear sense of expectation for the full-class corpus based on our earlier exploration. And, finally, we had a brief discussion about variation and affordances of changing some of data to deal with the question of spelling, authorship and authenticity.

While this was set up to be a discussion of linguistic features (nouns versus verbs; variation; etc) many students commented on how salient some terms were as transcribers – yet these were deemed less important in the overall big picture provided by Voyant. Ultimately, this left our brilliant students thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of both Voyant’s birds-eye view and linear start-to-finish reading – which was an even better outcome than I could have asked for.

***

Additional notes:This is related to another undergraduate classroom activity I have done a few times where students read several online articles related to a theme, try out the birds-eye-view approach to the topic using Voyant, and then move into trying it out on some of their own writing (forum posts, assignments, etc) to think about their ownstyle. It works pretty well as a way to get undergrads to think about their own style and editing in a way that is a little less obvious than other formats.

Please also see Miriam Posner’s very excellent Investigating Texts With Voyant workshop (10 April 2019) for more ideas https://github.com/miriamposner/voyant-workshop/blob/master/ investigating-texts-with-voyant.md[1] For the curious: One was from Smitten Kitchen, one from Martha Stewart, and a recipe of their choice from the NYT’s giant chocolate chip cookie compendium. (If I was doing this again, I would maybe not use NYT, as it kept asking us to log in. Also if I was doing this again, I’d be bringing cookies into class!)

Big News! Recipe Transcriptions Now Searchable in LUNA

 

By Rebecca Laroche

Since mid-February, those who have been using the Folger Shakespeare Library’s digital archive LUNA, may have noticed an exciting change. In the left-hand column on the home page now appears an item “LUNA: Folger Manuscripts Transcriptions Collection.”  For those who have clicked on it, out of curiosity or with the news in hand, and then submitted a search for “borage,” for example, the results are quite thrilling: more than a dozen recipe manuscript pages appear!  And when one of those pages is then clicked on, its vetted transcription appears at the bottom of the data on the left of the enlarged image of the manuscript!           

Through LUNA, Emily Wahl, Metadata Specialist, and Michael Poston, Data Architect, both at the Folger Shakespeare Library have made this effort to make transcriptions quickly available to users through keyword searching.  There are newly vetted semi-diplomatic transcriptions of 2731 manuscript images equaling thousands more recipes from 43 different Folger collections, letters, and individual leaves.  Of these, EMROC contributed to 10 manuscripts, including the longest (Cromwell V.a.8), together constituting 1051 images, well over 1/3 of images. The Folger manuscripts searchable in LUNA right now that have been a part of EMROC transcribathons or connected classrooms include V.a.20 (Hall), V.a.430 (Granville), V.a.450 (Pudsey), V.a.456 (Baumfylde), V.a.600 (Castleton), V.a.619 (Baker), W.b.653 (Anonymous), V.a.8 (Cromwell), V.b.366 (Winch), and X.d.24 (Cruso). The vetting labor has largely been undertaken by “Dromio Wrangler” Sarah Powell with help from a grant given to the Folger.  What is more, Elisa Tersigni, a three-year digital postdoc on the Mellon “Before ‘Farm-to-Table'” team is tasked with strategizing on what of/how the Folger is going to share the corpus beyond the LUNA collection.           

Therefore, this is not an endpoint, but rather a rousing development in the ongoing EMROC-Folger collaborative endeavor.  For one, several other completely keyed manuscripts, including the Margaret Turner and Jane Dawson manuscripts finished during the 2019 transcribathon, are currently in the vetting queue and will soon be added to the LUNA collection. Within the LUNA transcriptions, there are also notable limits that the next phase of transcription sharing will seek to correct.  In LUNA, italics and superscripts, i.e., brevigraphs in general, are not able to be noted in the transcriptions. Also, transcriber notes appear simply as “Notes:”, deletions are denoted in square brackets, and metadata is limited. Of course, given the difficulty and many-layers of the task, there will still be plenty of errors, and users are encouraged to contact Elisa (etersigni@folger.edu) with any they may find, which can then be forwarded on to the LUNA directors and updated in DROMIO and the XML files directly.

Again, the searchability of the texts is of the original spelling, thus users will have to try several variations and anticipate orthographic quirkiness.  Returning to the example above, “borage” yields fourteen images in the collection, but “borrage” opens up six others; if the user, however, did not anticipate the variations “burrage” (16) and “burage” (9), they would miss out on 25 more. LUNA does have an Advanced Search (accessed through downward arrow in the search window; see image) that can help with such variants through the “find any of these words” (borrage borage burrage burage) option.   

Advanced Search in LUNA

 

For those recipe researchers who have not yet used LUNA to its fullest capacity, this new development adds a helpful tool to their workbench in creating a LUNA account and with it accessing the Media Groups capability. Within an imagined account, we can click on “Create” then “Media Groups.”

How to create a Media Group in LUNA

If we were to create a group called “Borage,” we would then make sure that it was the active group by toggling along the bottom of the screen, and then we could conduct a search for the variants above. Having done so, we could click on the plus sign up at the right and have all images deposited in that group for later analysis or we could add individual images as we sorted through them. The possibilities are endless.

In an email with the author, Heather Wolfe, Folger Curator of Manuscripts, wrote that “The LUNA collection doesn’t preclude a searchable corpus, which is what Elisa and Meaghan Brown [Digital Production Editor] are thinking through right now. We welcome all suggestions and feedback” (feedback may also be sent to ETersigni@folger.edi). For those of us in the EMROC Steering Committee two limitations of the LUNA transcription collection stand out, and the hope is that these will soon be redressed. Without downloadable files, data analysis, for which there is so much potential in recipes work, is limited. Most significantly, however, transcription attributions are not yet possible as was promised through the DROMIO platform. EMROC will, in the meantime work to maintain an up-to-date transcribers list. If you have had a connected classroom and its members need to be added to the website or if you yourself have contributed to a transcribathon and do not find your name in the list of transcribers, please let EMROC know at contactemroc@gmail.com; with last year’s push, it has been difficult to keep up with the transcription activity given the many hats of the those on the steering committee. Know that it is the main purpose of this site to record the work of the collective that is making these research breakthroughs possible. Do also keep an eye to this page for updates as manuscripts are added and other advancements occur.

 

 

 

Dr. Walter Harris’s Methods of Treating Deathly Ill Children (Folger MS W.a.87)

By Victoria Kuhr

If your child was knocking at death’s door, wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to cure them, even if the treatments were potentially dangerous? Folger MS W.a.87 (early 18th century) shows the great lengths parents went to cure their children of serious ailments. With several pages detailing strong purges for children based on Galenic theories of evacuative medicine, Folger MS W.a.87 is important because it records invasive treatments that were losing popularity in the mid- to late-17th century.

The recipes for purges in this manuscript are modeled after the treatments the eminent physician Dr. Walter Harris (1647-1732) used on his young patients. These include purges of children who were “pale,” “refused any kinds of Nourishment,” and suffered from “Vomitings, greene stooles, & gripnings [sic]” (Folger MS W.a.87., fol. 106, 108, 109). A prominent member of the Royal College of Physicians and frequent critic of Paracelsan and Helmontian medicine, Dr. Harris wrote De morbis acutis infantum (1689), translated into English as A Treatise of the Acute Diseases of Infants (1693),in which he records his observations of many seriously ill children successfully treated by his methods. Several of Dr. Harris’s observations were copied into manuscript W.a.87; several other pages of this manuscript seem to be translated or paraphrased from Harris’s work.

A Chile, 10 mounts ole breeding teeth, fall into a Losensse

& had 40 or 50 Stooles in a day, & was almost dead. I gaue her

dose of pouder, whith cousisted cheifly of Chalk & Coral, [e]ach

20 graines every fourth hour att l[e]ast, but in the begininning

I gaue itt oftner, till the Violence should abate; On the

third day I cleansed her body wh​​ith a Rubarb purge,

I repeated the same pouders 2 days more & reneued the

purges, & She was perfectly Cured.

(W.a.87, fol. 110, 150409).

 

In this observation, (also found on pages 122-124 of A Treatise of the Acute Diseases of Infants) Harris’s purge seemed to save the life of the ten-month-old child. Harris’s frequent administration of the dangerous powders contrasts with, for example, gentler purges attributed to Dr. Lour (possibly Dr. Richard Lower) in the cookbook of Hester Denbigh. Dr. Lour recommends giving medicine only “once in two days or twice in a day if need be” (NYPL Whitney MS 11, fol. 20).

The general procedure for purging children, recommended by Harris, is as follows:

The Evening before you give the purge, lett the Chile have

a Glyster of Milk and Sugar with a few grains of Salt.

If the Chile bee not restored to health & ease, Rest a day

and then give the pouders againe, as before, two days, & then

Give another purge then rest a day _ and so repeate the

pouders & purgnig 4, 5, or 6 times if need requires / –

(Folger MS W.a.87, fol 104, 150406)

This basic procedure is modified by Harris to suit the children’s different symptoms.

Purges were still common in the eighteenth century, but the purges Harris describes are only for worst-case scenarios in children whose last resort depended on an intensive cycle of clysters, powders, and cordials, followed by a day or two of rest. Although the powders vary based on the symptoms, they include ingredients such as crab claws, oyster shells, bezoar stone, similar to recipes for Gascoigne’s powder found in many recipe books (fol. 100-101). These ingredients helped to absorb the excess moisture which Harris believed was endemic to children: “The Nature of Children is moist and all Moisture is apt to degenerate into Sournesse” (W.a.87, fol. 100).

Other physicians believed the delicate nature of children would make routine preventative purges inadvisable which is no doubt why these recipes repeatedly stress the need for safety. Practitioners of chemical medicine thought it was important to find treatments that reduced a child’s discomfort level, instead of providing treatments that induced more pain. Gentler treatments included bathing infants in wine and stimulating a bowel movement by rubbing the stomach (Astury 87). According to historian of medicine Hannah Newton, “Johann Dolaus cautioned that ‘Children cannot bear Purging’” (70).  But when it comes to acute and potentially deadly illnesses, the author of W.a.87 copies Harris’s claim of “uspeakable [sic] Successe in Curing Children by purging Only which I practiced 7 years togeather” (Folger MS W.a.87, fol. 100). Practitioners may have considered all other options before intentionally putting a child’s body through further pain. However, when parents are desperate, these concerns may go out the window.

Physicians, such as Dr. Harris, and parents with a deathly sick child deemed purging and other invasive treatments appropriate. Physicians and parents no doubt worried about children’s fragile bodies suffering extra trauma, but the medical histories found in Folger MS W.a.87 showed very dire situations. The illnesses observed by Dr. Harris were in fact any parent’s worst nightmare. This manuscript is important evidence that parents could have reason to trust in seemingly dangerous purges that were disfavored by other physicians if it meant their children getting well again.  


Victoria Kuhr is a junior English major at Mount St. Mary’s College. She did this  research for the Mount’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program with Professor Rob Wakeman.

Works Cited

Astbury, Leah. “‘Ordering the infant’: caring for infants in early modern England.” In Conserving Health in Early Modern Culture: Bodies and Environments in Italy and England. Ed. Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey. Manchester University Press, 2017. 80-103.

Harris, Walter. A treatise of the acute diseases of infants. To which are added, medical observations on several grievous diseases. Written originally in Latin by the late learned Walter Harris, M.D. Fellow of the College of Physicians at London, and Professor of   Chirurgery in the same College. Translated into English by John Martyn, F.R.S.           Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge. London, 1742. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. New York Public Library. 25 May 2018

Newton, Hannah. The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720. Oxford: Oxford  University Press, 2012.

Folger MS W.a.87, early eighteenth century

NYPL Whitney MS 11, Cookbook of Hester Denbigh, 1700

Medicine out of Mole-Hairs in Jane Dawson’s Manuscript

By Ashley Gonzalez

Though all of Jane Dawson’s recipes are fascinating, perhaps one of the most curious ones involved the medical use of moles for hair loss and hair growth. This interest was noted by multiple people during the Fall EMROC transcribathon: 

Why this connection between moles and human hair? I decided to look a little deeper to see what I could find out. 

My transcription of the two mole-based recipes, which you can see on the manuscript page here, consists of the following:

to Expell haire in any part of the bodey

Take a mole & lay her in water to be soaked so long till, she shall have noe hair is Left on her; wththis water anoint [the] place from wchyou would expel [the] haire & afterwards wash it with Lye maid of Ashes, & then rub it with a linen cloth, if you shall see [the] haire retorne; wash twise or thrise in [the] aforesaid manner & it will [illegible] expel [them] & by noe means can be maid to renew againe. 

            To recover Haire in any part of the body

Take [the] blood of a mole & anoint the part; two or 3 times therewith that you wod have the haire to increase on; [the] blood being warme; as it comes from [the] mole being newly killed; it will wond[er]fully renew & bring hair to the admiration of all men (Dawson 21)

The first recipe implies a distinct link between the removal of the hair of the mole and the removal of human hair, which suggests that the recipe works according to the doctrine of sympathies. Connections such as these between the ailment and the cure for said ailment were common in the seventeenth century:

In the tradition of seventeenth-century herbalists … there was a sympathy between certain plants and certain ailments, or parts of the body, which could be recognized by its distinctive ‘signature’. Thus any herb which resembled the form of eyes, for example – such as eyebright, the scabious or the marigold – was said to be useful in the healing of eye complaints. Such connections were part of a complex web of correspondences and sympathies connecting macrocosm to microcosm. (Harrison 41)

If early modern herbalists connected the characteristics of ailments with the physical appearances of herbs, the same thinking might apply to animals. Just as herbs resembling eyes were said to treat blindness, so too might the hair of a creature be said to assist with ailments concerning the hair of humans.

Perhaps the most notable feature of a mole is its blindness. Edward Topsell in his 1658 book The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpentsincludes a segment on moles in which the following visual can be found on page 388:

Though this illustration implies that moles have easily visible eyes, they would have been hidden under a layer of fur:

Muséum de Toulouse [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] Talpa europaea MHNT

Despite the mole’s eyeless appearance, it seems to have been relatively well-known that moles possessed eyes underneath their fur, as evidenced in Topsell’s illustration. The fur covering the location of the eyes might have been viewed as excess. Thus, it follows that individuals wanting more hair might look to the mole to inspire their own hair growth. Similarly, the process of removing the mole’s hair could become associated with the removal of hair in general, resulting in a ritual wherein the human hair is “anoint[ed]” with the removed mole hair in hopes of stimulating the expulsion of excess hair.

As for the origin of Dawson’s recipes, one likely source is Topsell’s aforementioned book, which includes Dawson’s cure for excess hair almost word for word. The similarities suggest that Dawson directly came into contact with Topsell’s book herself or through a source that had copied from the book. Unlike the resemblance in the hair removal texts, the recipes concerning hair growth show significant differences. Topsell’s book utilizes the burnt skin of the mole rather than the blood: “For the renewing, and bringing againe of those haires which are fallen or decayed, take a mole and burne her whole in the skin […]” (Topsell, 502). This use of burnt skin may ultimately refer back to Dioscorides, who originally used porcupine and hedgehog skin in his recipes for hair growth. Though there are other differences in components, Topsell’s version keeps the idea of using a creature’s skin as a main ingredient.

Medicinal recipes are changed as they pass from one individual to another, with information being added, removed, or altered. It is therefore likely that Dawson’s curt recipe may have originally been a part of a longer one that was altered as time passed—perhaps passing through word-of-mouth, or being copied from an acquaintance or friend’s own personal medicinal cookbook. It is evident that Dawson pooled together knowledge from multiple people, suggesting that the medical care they could expect had a direct correlation to both the knowledge and the quantity of the people they knew. 

Interestingly, there is one source that includes both of Dawson’s recipes. Joannes Jonstonus’ 1678 book reads: “the [mole’s] blood brings hair … the water wherein a Mole hath been, and left hair, restores hair.” (Jonstonus 91). There is one crucial change from Dawson’s version: the fur of the mole is said to promote hair growth rather than hair loss. An intriguing dilemma would arise if an early modern person came into contact with these two recipes claiming opposing results.  Though the publication status of Jonstonus’ book would imply that it was Jonstonus’ version rather than Dawson’s that would have been in more frequent use, this would likely depend on a variety of factors, including the book’s distribution and popularity. 

Though an analysis of the mole recipes mentioned beforehand allows for a better understanding of Dawson’s own recipe, it should be noted that these recipes are likely only a fraction of early modern recipes concerning moles and hair. Numerous others exist, and further analysis of those versions could bring to light a more thorough and complete understanding of this unique remedy.

Works Cited

Dawson, Jane. Cookbook of Jane Dawson. Folger ms. Vb.14.

Harrison, Mark. “From Medical Astrology to Medical Astronomy: Sol-Lunar and Planetary Theories of Disease in British Medicine.” The British Journal for the History of Science,vol. 33, no. 1, Mar. 2000, pp. 25-48. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4028064

Jonstonus, Joannes. A description of the nature of four-footed beasts with their figures en[graven in brass] / written in Latin by Dr. John Johnston ; translated into English by J.P. Translated by J.P, Amsterdam, 1678. Early English Books Online, https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=eebo;idno=A46231.0001.001

Topsell, Edward. The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents. London, 1658. https://archive.org/details/historyoffourfoo00tops/page/388

Ashley Gonzalez recently graduated from The University of Akron, where she undertook this research in ENG 489: Disease in Literature.