Burr, Hattie A.

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The Woman suffrage cook book : containing thoroughly tested and reliable recipes for cooking, directions for the care of the sick, and practical su...

The Woman Suffrage Cook Book was first sold at the Woman Suffrage Festival and Bazaar in Boston, a fundraiser held by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association from December 13 through 16, 1886. The Association was aligned with the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), formed by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe, which favored a state-by-state campaign strategy as opposed to the national constitutional amendment strategy advanced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony of the New York-based National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association had strong ties with The Woman's Journal, the official paper of the AWSA edited by Stone and Blackwell, and the bazaar received enormous coverage in the Journal.

On December 11, 1886, the Journal devoted several columns to Bazaar announcements, the most prominent being the listing of noted participants. Mrs. Mary A. Livermore was president of the four day affair, and the sixty or so vice-presidents listed comprise an honor roll of prominent Bostonians in literary and reform circles, including Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Mr. and Mrs. William Lloyd Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Samuel E. Sewall, and many others. On December 18, the Journal ran a full-page report on the opening night, preserving a glimpse of the scene that evening at the Music Hall in Boston. It reads in part:

In spite of a drizzling rain, there was a very large attendance on the opening night. The upper gallery was gaily and tastefully decorated with flags, and the lower gallery was well filled with interested spectators. The great crowd, however, was on the floor, where the tables of thirty-one out of the thirty-six woman suffrage leagues of the State groaned under the weight of beautiful and useful articles. The banners of the leagues around the walls, suspended from the lower gallery and hanging each over the table of its respective league, add much to the effect of the decorations . . . High over all hung the white banner of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association, the gift of Miss Cora Scott Pond and Rev. Annie H. Shaw, bearing the words, "Male and female created He them, and gave them dominion."

The Woman's Journal for Christmas day 1886 printed a long summary of the Bazaar -- its award ceremonies, musical concerts, tables of gifts for sale - and ends by saying that gross receipts would probably exceed $6,500, with expenses at about $1,500 and net profits at $5,000. There is no mention of cookbook profits, but an earlier issue from November 6, 1886 presented readers with another paper's reaction to the up-coming cookbook:

The imagination of our lively friend the Evening Record has evidently been much struck by the announcement of the forth-coming "Woman Suffrage Cookery Book" . . . It says: 'The woman suffragists, who are going to hold a Bazaar in December for the good of the cause, intend to throw a mighty sop to Cerberus. This will be nothing more nor less than the publication and sale of a volume to be called 'The Woman Suffrage Cook Book.'. . . Alarmists of both sexes will shrink back abashed before this cook-book, for at least two recipes, which she has tested with success, will be given over the signature of each fair suffragist who contributes to its pages. It will be a confession book, a proof that, even if they wish to vote, the suffragists cherish a feminine interest in culinary matters.'

When Hattie Burr published The Woman Suffrage Cook Book, the vote for the women of Massachusetts was a distant dream. An 1881 bill to grant women municipal suffrage had been defeated in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 122 to 76. It would be almost thirty years before the state would hold a referendum on suffrage (failed 1915) and a little less than thirty five years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920), granting all women the right to vote in government elections. But the Bazaar and cookbook reflected the energy and spirit of reform that Massachusetts was known for in this period. Not only did both efforts straddle the domestic and political spheres, but they represented a cross-section of New England suffragists as well as a large slice of the society of leading nineteenth century literary, intellectual and political figures.


  • Buhle, Mari Jo and Paul, Eds., The Concise History of Woman Suffrage. Selections from the Classic Work of Stanton, Anthony, Gage, and Harper. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1978.
  • Burr, Hattie A., The Woman Suffrage Cook Book. Boston: Mrs. Hattie A. Burr, 1886.
  • Frost, Elizabeth and Kathryn Cullen-DuPont, Women's Suffrage in America: An Eyewitness History. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1992.
  • Robinson, Harriet H., Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1881.
  • The Woman's Journal. November 6, 1886; December 11, 18, 25, 1886. Boston.

Written by Anne-Marie Rachman