Cherry Hill Receipt Books

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Cherry Hill Receipt Books
First page of handwritten recipe book of Maria Schuyler Sanders Van Rensselaer - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
1760-1951, bulk 19th century

Historical Context

The receipt books of Cherry Hill are vast in the time period and the recipes/instructions they cover. Early receipts come from the first generation residents, like Maria (1749-1830) and Philip (1747-1798) Van Rensselaer. Philip and Maria were the first inhabitants of Cherry Hill, when it was a 900 acre farm, and thus many of their receipts pertain to the keeping of animals. Their daughter and son-in-law, Arriet and Solomon Van Rensselaer, managed a 300+ acre farm. Arriet Van Rensselaer’s (1775-1840) receipt books are full of family recipes as well as those for her dairy business. Others date to the third generation owner, Harriet Maria Van Rensselaer Elmendorf (1816-1896). Her receipts include her transcriptions of old family recipes, as well as patterns for quilting and needlework.

Harriet Maria undoubtedly inherited the receipt book created by her sisters, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer (1799-1835) and Matilda Fonda Van Rensselaer (1804-1863). Written from other residences in Albany, their receipt books include many recipes, mostly for desserts, but also a tragic poem about a deceased child. Family members also contributed to their books on topics like “Astronomy and Natural Philosophy” and “The Nature and Cause of Winds," farming and food preservation. Recipes to cure cough and other lung ailments support the presumption that both sisters and perhaps two daughters suffered from tuberculosis.

Fourth generation Cherry Hill owner, Catherine Bogart Putman Rankin (1857-1948), kept receipt books which include references and additions by her children, notably Edward Elmendorf Rankin and Emily W. Rankin. Many of these were compilations of original or older receipts found in books from Van Rensselaer and Rankin family members and friends who were living during different periods or in different homes.

Scope of Collection

Digital collection includes 14 receipt books and 4 folders of receipt clippings, ranging from 1760 to 1951. The items in the collection are attributed to Maria Sanders Van Rensselaer, Arriet Van Rensselaer, Richard Van Rensselaer, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, Matilda Fonda Van Rensselaer, Harriet Maria Van Rensselaer Elemendorf, Catherine Visscher Van Rensselaer Bonney, Catherine Bogart Putman Rankin, and Mary W. Freeman. Many of these individuals are also contributors to other items in the collection and are the authors of more than one item. In addition, friends and family members contributed to items in the collection, such as Jane Sanders, Harriet Maria Putman, Harriet Maria Elmendorf Gould, Peter Edmund Elmendorf, Edward Elmendorf Rankin, Emily Watkinson Rankin, Maria Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, Philip P. Van Rensselaer, Killian K. Van Rensselaer, Augusta Stone Whittmore, Harriet Maria Putman, and Emma Catherine Bonney.

Credit Statement:
Sally King, Amanda Greenwood, and Sarah Lindecke scanned the collection, contributed to the biographical and historical details, and created the metadata. Jennifer Fairall assisted with the digitization and metadata creation. Items were scanned at the Digital Scholarship Center at Siena College. Grant funding for the project was awarded by the Capital District Library Council.