Sunday, August 7, 2022

Recipe manuscript - school project at a woman's college c1831

Ann Augusta Forman Cooley (1810-1890) filled this composition book with recipes, possibly started as a school project. Raised a Quaker in NJ, then from 1828 to 1831 she attended Van Doren's Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies in Brooklyn Heights, perhaps the first woman's college. Click images to enlarge.

This post will be about the recipe manuscript but also a tribute to one of the first (if not the first) women's college. The worn book is 10.5 by 8 inches with 39 pages of recipes. Students were required to keep a daily journal, which may explain her name imprinted on the cover.
Here is the information I found about Ann and the school, thus far. It may be of interest to others. Let me know if you have seen an early school project to collect recipes like this.

Ann is her name on the book cover, but she was Anna in records. Her father John Emley Forman (1772-1867) was a Quaker, married Sydney Paul Rakestraw (1777-1814), lived in Alexandria, Hunterdon County NJ (sketch of his home) and was buried in the Friend's Cemetery.
John Forman was “a just, upright, elegant old gentleman, a widower for over fifty years, of considerable fortune, and a power in his own community, a sort of gentleman farmer. He called himself a Quaker… married one of two Rakestraw sisters, beautiful women, and heiresses, and very accomplished.”
[Spottswood, Dandridge Anne. The Forman Genealogy. Cleveland: 1903]

Her mother died when she was three years old. At some point Ann was sent to Van Doran's boarding school in Newark, then to Van Doran's women's college from 1828 to 1831. In 1848, Anna Forman (1810-1890) married James Cooley (1780-1873), son of John Cooley (1749-1813) and Abigail Lippincott (1753–1838), also of Hunterdon County, and they had no children.


The first part of the book is more carefully written in pen, than the later (written in pencil), like most recipe manuscripts.
New-Years Cake
2 Cups sugar - 1 of butter 1 of water - table spoon Carroway seed - teaspoon saleraetus mixed stiff - (Miss Schenck)
Margaret Schenck was a student from northern NJ. Two published recipes from Simmons 1796 and Leslie 1840 are near the end of this post.

Bachelor's loaf
2 Eggs beaten well - 1 pt [pint] rich milk - 3/4 lb corn meal - stir in a spoonful of butter - grease the tins and bake with a good heat - (Mrs. Trippe)

Oysters of Green Corn
Grate 12 ears of sweet corn, take one half a pt of milk to rinse out the cobs, add six eggs, 3 tablespoonsful of flour & salt to the taste. Fry them in a buttered griddle, like pan-cakes -
They should be fried slowly & be throughly cooked.

The two students who definately contributed recipes didn't live near her, so perhaps the manuscript started at school as a project to do back home on vacation/break, thus all the 'Mrs.', and ofcourse continued into her adulthood. As typical with old recipe manuscripts, various ladies - family and friends - contributed, some were named.


Schenck, Margaret - New Brunswick NJ student, New Years Cake
Van Wick, Cornelia - Poughkeepsie NY student, Tapioca jelly
Slingh ?
Viets Viels

Polhemup - Preserving Eggs
Other recipes included: New England Johnny Cake, Potted Fish, Delicious Hasty Pudding, St Charles Indian Bread, Corn Starch Cake, Raised Cake without Eggs, Mint Chow Chow, Raspberry Vinegar, Tomatoes (several), Yeast


Isaac van Doren wanted to create a place to give "Young Ladies the same advantages in acquiring an education that are enjoyed by the other sex in our Colleges." At their Kentucky college (and perhaps at Brooklyn) they could earn a diploma or honorary degree of M. P. L. (Mistress of Polite Literature), M. M. (Mistress of Music), and M. I. (Mistress of Instruction).

(Brooklyn Heights, opposite the City of New-York.) 
Isaac Van Doren, A.M. and J. Livingston Van Doren, A.M.Principals. 
Assisted by Five Professors and Seven Instructresses. 
This Institution was incorporated in April, 1829, with a capital of $30,000; the whole of which capital was expended in the lands and buildings the following year. It is designed to afford Young Ladies the same advantages in acquiring an education that are enjoyed by the other sex in our Colleges. Seventy-five pupils can be accommodated as boarders in the family of the principals. One hundred and seventyfive pupils have been connected with this Institution the past year.

The building is constructed of brick. Length, 75 feet. Breadth, including the portico and rear piazza, 78 feet. Height with the basement, 4 stories, and contains 40 rooms.

[The New York Annual Register 1831. also image]
The Troy Academy is listed with the famous Emma Hart Willard and her sister Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps (author and ran a large female institute here in Ellicott City MD).

Isaac van Doren (1773-1864) graduated from Princeton in 1793 and became a Presbyterian minister and educator. After 1825 he ran an academy in Newark for a short time, then relocated to Brooklyn Heights in 1828, to three new brick buildings on Hicks St. School began in May, costing $300 per session, additional for music lessons and other items. A four story building was built in May 1830. They were approached to create a school for ladies in Lexington, Ky and that school started by 1832 in the Lafayette Female Academy building (renamed when Lafayette visited in 1825) built 1817. The first pricipals were Luther Halsey Van Doren and Miss Adeline Van Doren. By 1838 the Ky school closed, the Brooklyn school continued under others to eventually become the Packer Collegiate Institute.

Students were required to keep a daily journal. The advanced level curriculum included algebra, chemistry, logic, Philosophy, Greek, modern Romance languages, and more.

College for Ladies [1835] – The Kentucky Legislature has conferred upon Messar Van Doren’s Institute for Young Ladies, in Lexington, the chartered rights and standing of a College, by the name of Van Doren’s College for Young Ladies.” The women earned a diploma or honorary degree of M. P. L. (Mistress of Polite Literature), M. M. (Mistress of Music), and M. I. (Mistress of Instruction).

The Messrs Van Dorens were formerly Principals of the Female Institution in this town [Newark]."
[Newark Adv. Copied by The Boston Observer and Religious Intelligencer 1835]

Which was first college for ladies? The Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies was incorporated in 1829. The Kentucky state legislature chartered the college in 1835 but it closed after a few years. The first continuing college is Wesleyan College in Georgia since 1836; and the following year Mount Holyoke College in MA was founded. Links to two articles about early female colleges are below under 'more sources'.

Course of studies listed by an English travellor, Trollope, in her 1832 book:
Whilst at New York, the prospectus of a fashionable boarding-school was presented to me. I made some extracts from it, as a specimen of the enlarged scale of instruction proposed for young females. Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, Brooklyn Heights, opposite the City of New York.
JUNIOR DEPARTMENT. Sixth Class. Latin Grammar, Liber Primus; Jacob's Latin Reader, (first part); Modern Geography; Intellectual and Practical Arithmetic finished ; Dr. Barber's Grammar of Elocution; Writing, Spelling, Composition, and Vocal Music. Fifth Class. Jacob's Latin Reader, (second part); Roman Antiquities, Sallust; Clark's Introduction to the Making of Latin ; Ancient and Sacred Geography; Studies of Poetry ; Short Treatise on Rhetoric; Map Drawing, Composition, Spelling, and Vocal Music. Fourth Class. Cæsar's Commentaries; first five books of Virgil's Æneid; Mythology; Watts on the Mind; Political Geography, (Woodbridge's large work) ; Natural History; Treatise on the Globes ; Ancient History; Studies of Poetry concluded ; English Grammar, Composition, Spelling, and Vocal Music.
SENIOR DEPARTMENT. Third Class. Virgil, (finished); Cicero's Select Orations; Modern History; Plane Geometry ; Moral Philosophy; Critical Reading of Young's Poems Perspective Drawing; Rhetoric; Logic, Com- position, and Vocal Music. Second Class. Livy; Horace, (Odes); Natural Theology small Compend of Ecclesiastical History; Fe male Biography; Algebra ; Natural Philosophy, (Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, , and Acoustics); Intellectual Philosophy; Evidences of Christianity ; Composition, and Vocal Music. First Class. Horace, (finished); Tacitus; Natural Philosophy, (Electricity, Optics, Magnetism, Galvanism); Astronomy, Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology; Compend of Political Economy; Com- position, and Vocal Music. The French, Spanish, Italian, or Greek languages may be attended to, if required, at any time.
[Trollope, Frances Milton, Domestic manners of the Americans v. 2. London: 1832]


New Year's Cake. Simmons 1796
Take a pint milk, and one quart yeast, put these together over night and let it lie in the sponge till morning, 5 pound sugar and 4 pound butter, dissolve these together, 6 eggs well beat, and carroway seed; put the whole together, and when light bake them in cakes, similar to breakfast biscuit, 20 minutes.
[Simmons, Amelia. American Cookery. ?Albany, 1796]

NEW-YEAR'S CAKE. Eliza Leslie 1836
Three pounds of four, sifted.
A pound and a half of powdered white sugar.
A pound of fresh butter.
A pint of milk with a small teaspoonful of pearl-ash melted in it.

Having sifted the flour, spread the sugar on the paste-board, a little at a time, and crush it to powder by rolling it with the rolling-pin. Then mix it with the flour. Cut up in the flour the butter and mix it well by rubbing it in with your hands. Add by degrees the milk. Then knead the dough very hard, till it no longer sticks to your hands. Cover it, set it away for an hour or two, and then knead it again in the same manner. You may repeat the kneading several times. Then cut it into pieces, roll out each piece into a sheet half an inch thick. Cut it into large flat cakes with a tin cutter. You may stamp each cake with a wooden print, by way of ornamenting the surface.

Sprinkle with flour some large flat tin or iron pans, lay the cakes in them and bake them of a pale brown, in an oven of equal heat throughout.
These cakes require more and harder kneading than any others, therefore it is best to have them kneaded by a man, or a very strong woman.
They are greatly improved by the addition of some carraway seeds worked into the dough.

[Leslie, Eliza. Seventy-five receipts for pastry, cakes and sweetmeats. By Miss Leslie, of Philadelphia. Boston:1836]


Isaac Van Doren (class of 1793) may have opened America’s first women’s college” (with picture of Issac). Princeton Alumni Weekly April 21, 1993 p 47, 48] HERE

“A More Accurate and Extensive Education than is Customary”: Educational Opportunities for Women in Early-Nineteenth-Century New Jersey." Lucia McMahon. New Jersey History 2009 27p HERE

Brooklyn Collegiate Institute, for Young Ladies; Brooklyn Heights, opposite the city of New York. : The postage of this periodical, not 100 miles, is 1 1/2 cents; and 100 miles, 2 1/2 cents. [New York: s.n., 1831?] 12 p. ; 21 cm
Relief cut of the school on title page signed: Anderson. "Catalogue of the officers, instructors, and pupils of the Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies."--p. [2]-10.
"Pupils who have been members of the Brooklyn Collegiate Institute since it was established in the spring of 1828, till the fall of 1831."--p. [5]. "Course of studies."--p. [11]-12.
The New-York Historical Society, NYC

Messrs. Van Doren’s Institute for Young Ladies, removed from Newark, New-Jersey, to Brooklyn Heights, near the City of New-York. 1828 12p
Prospectus of the Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, Brooklyn Heights, City of Brooklyn, Long-Island, and State of New-York. Brooklyn: 1834 15p
Center for Brooklyn History | Brooklyn Public Library

Forman home image from Find a Grave website HERE

Engraved view of the Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies from The Eagle and Brooklyn 1893 Library of Congress.

English Grammar, and Chart for Parsing the English Language, [book] prepared for and dedicated to the young ladies of the Brooklyn and Lexington Collegiate Institutes by J. Livingston Van Doren [1801-1858]. NY: 1832 HERE

Miss Lavinia Murray’s Retrospect of the year 1833. No.14 Carroll Place New York 1834. Diary by a student from Maryland in 1833 when the Van Dorens lived there and Pres Andrew Jackson visited NYC. Salisbury University Nabb Research Center Special Collections HERE

Manuscript Cookbooks Survey HERE
Manuscripts: Medical and Cookbooks HERE
Manuscripts: Medieval, Renaissance HERE


©2022 Patricia Bixler Reber
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