Welcome to the first post in a new series highlighting the research materials available at the University of Maine. This semester Khronikos will be highlighting some of the collections held in Fogler Library’s Special Collections. Established in 1970, the Special Collections Department is a repository for Maine related material, including manuscript collections, newspapers, books, pamphlets, state documents, and other forms of printed material covering Maine’s cities, towns, counties, people, and institutions. Material pertaining to broader subject matters, such as marine history, may also be located in Special Collections.
Rachel A. Snell, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Maine
Collection Title: Mildred (Brown) and William Schrumpf Collection
Date of Collections: 1905-1990s
Contents: contents of newspaper columnist and gastronomic guru in the Bangor area. Includes columns, cookbooks, recipes, notebooks, menus, and correspondence. Many of the cookbooks and much of the material relates to Maine.
Provenance: Gift of Mildred “Brownie” Schrumpf
Arrangement: Arranged by type of record: newspaper column, recipes, cookbooks, correspondence, periodicals, appointment books, notebooks, personal/professional and memorabilia.
Mildred “Brownie” Schrumpf wore many hats during her lifetime, but her love of simple “State of Maine” cooking remained consistent. Born in 1903 in Readfield and a graduate of the University of Maine with a B.S. in Home Economics, Brownie championed Maine recipes, Maine food, and Maine products to three generations of Maine families. In the 1940s, Brownie was a part-time instructor at UMaine teaching food preparation and preservation as well as camp cookery to forestry students. For forty-two years (1951-1993), she was the food columnist for the Bangor Daily News. Her columns reveal her deep commitment to Maine ingredients and simple methods of food preparation. Throughout her lifetime, she sought new recipes and new methods of preparations which she shared with her readers in her column and her cookbooks, The Flavor of Maine and Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen.
As a trained home economist, she favored scientific cooking. She preferred exact measurements and sought to give home cooks the resources to produce tasty and healthy meals. Her collection of recipes, community cookbooks, recipe booklets, and columns represents the development of cooking in the 20th century United States toward cooking as a science. Although Brownie is best remembered as the “First Cook” of the State of Maine, she gained a national reputation over the course of her career. She served as a judge for the Pillsbury Bake-Off and often attended food expositions as a representative of the state and Maine food.
Brownie Schrumpf was honored with a variety of awards, including The Black Bear Award (University of Maine, 1957), Woman of the Year (Maine Press, Radio and TV Women, 1968), Unofficial Ambassador of Good Eating (Maine Department of Agriculture, 1970), General Alumni Association Pine Tree Alumni Service Emblem (1974), Kiwanis Recognition in Service Award (Orono-Old Town Kiwanis, 1976), and American Association of University Women Achievement Citation Award (Maine AAUW, 1989).
Brownie died in 2001 at the age of 98 and was remembered as “everyone’s neighbor.”
The Mildred “Brown” and William Schrumpf Collection encompass 15 boxes of material related to Brownie and her husband’s professional and personal lives. Most notably, the collection includes typed sheets of Brownie’s Bangor Daily News column from 1951-1989 with her editorial notes in pencil and an extensive collection of community cookbooks published in Maine and Canada during Brownie’s long lifetime. The collection is literally overflowing with recipes: handwritten recipes from Brownie’s various recipe notebooks, recipes sent to Brownie from her readers, recipe collected from family, friends, and colleagues, and recipes booklets representing a wide range of products. It appears Brownie was meticulous about recording the source of recipes and when she used a particular recipe for her column. The collection also includes Brownie’s correspondence, appointment books, travel diaries, teaching materials, menus, speeches, photographs, and other memorabilia.
The Schrumpf papers may be of interest to many researchers and relevant to a wide range of research projects:
- For researchers interested in 20th-century Maine life, particularly rural Maine, Brownie’s work through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 4-H, Maine Farm and Home Week, and her connections to Maine agriculture could be particularly fruitful avenues for research. Her BDN column is much more than collections of recipes. Brownie took great care to present recipes that would appeal to her audience and meet their needs, both nutritional and personal. The introductions to her columns include lovely vignettes of 20th-century Maine life and personal memories. These were clearly part of the charm of Brownie’s column and contributed to people’s neighborly regard for her.
- Her columns and recipe book provide an intriguing glimpse at the life of the mid-century housewife, particularly in regards to preserving food, providing healthy meals for her family, and the ways social life revolved around food. Brownie advised her readers to produce extra fruitcake and jam to have on hand as gifts and often addressed recipes appropriate for holidays, summer picnics, guests from out of state, and other festivities.
- Those interested in newspapers or the writing process will appreciate Brownie’s careful edits on each column.
- The sheer volume of community cookbooks contained within the collection will excite cookbook historians. One hundred and thirty-three cookbooks published between 1900 and the early 1990s in Maine and Canada are included. This research looked at a very small sampling, but was able to find some excellent examples of annotation, most likely created by Brownie, in a few cookbooks. This is the most extensive collection of Maine community cookbooks encountered by this researcher.
- The collection also boasts a large number of recipe booklets produced and distributed by various agricultural organizations and food manufacturers. Also included are an innumerable number of handwritten and typed recipes organized into categories like apples, holiday, entertaining, low calorie, Maine, maple syrup, and many, many others. Included in this number are recipes sent to Brownie by readers, friends, companies, and publications. These recipes provide a sense of food habits and preferences during the period, but Brownie’s connection to the University and state programs could offer an interesting glimpse at increasing state involvement in the production of food and the work of farmers.
- Brownie’s column and recipe collection are a testament to America’s changing eating habits over the course of the century. Originally, Brownie eschewed convenience foods for simple, home cooking, but she came to embrace the timesaving possibilities of these items for her readers. The categories for her recipes reveal changing health concerns (low calorie), social issues (war fare, sugar saving, Thursday Club) and education efforts by the State and University (Cooperative Extension, Maine Farm and Home Week, Canning, Food Preservation, and Camp Cookery).
- Her account of a 1948 cross-country trip is an endearing record of her impression of the American landscape, but also contains information about travel at mid-century (hotels, roadside dining, infrastructure). She records (and often rates) the food enjoyed during the trip revealing herself as an open-minded eater.
- There is a decided Maine-theme to Brownie’s work and her collection of Maine recipes, food stuffs, cooking, and products could be of great use to those interested in 20th-century Maine history.
- Her notebooks (filled with recipes), teaching materials, notes from television appearance and speeches are a record of an astonishing woman and her long-lived and fruitful career in food.
Rachel A. Snell, “‘Fogler Feature: Mildred (Brown) and William Schrumpf Collection,” Khronikos: the University of Maine graduate history student blog (blog), February 5, 2014, http://khronikos.com/2014/02/05/fogler-feature-mildred-brown-and-william-schrumpf-collection/.
 Sandra Oliver “Brownie biographer reflects on big subject,” Bangor Daily News (Oct. 21, 2008) http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/21/living/lsquobrowniersquo-biographer-reflects-on-big-subject/.
 William Schrumpf graduated from the University of Maine in 1912. Schrumpf was an agricultural economist at the UMaine Agricultural Experimental Station.
“Beloved ‘Brownie’ Schrumpf dies at 98,” BDN (March 5, 2001) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2457&dat=20010305&id=kaNJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dA0NAAAAIBAJ&pg=6306,1546588.
Maine Women’s Hall of Fame: The late Mildred Brown (Brownie) Schrumpf http://www.uma.edu/mwhof-mbrownschrumpf.html
Oliver, Sandra, “Brownie biographer reflects on big subject,” Bangor Daily News (Oct. 21, 2008) http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/21/living/lsquobrowniersquo-biographer-reflects-on-big-subject/.
Schrumpf, Mildred “Brownie,” Flavor of Maine: Recipes in Honor of the Bicentennial (Bangor, ME: Bangor Daily News, 1976).
—-, Memories from Brownie’s kitchen: a collection of recipes complied over thirty-seven years (Bangor, ME: Bangor Pub. Co., 1989).
Tolstrup, Karen Dodge, “If Maine Had a Queen:” The Life of Brownie Schrumpf, 1903-2001 (Orono, ME: Maien Folklife Center, 2008).
Brownie and William E. Schrumpf Papers, 1905-1990s. MS 455. Special Collections, Fogler Library, University of Maine. Orono, Maine.