History: Cecily Brownstone was born in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, Canada, in 1909, and grew up in Winnipeg, the fourth of five sisters. She attended the University of Manitoba and came to New York City to pursue her studies and to work. She lived in Greenwich Village, appropriately enough in a brownstone house, in a duplex apartment that included a spectacular test kitchen, and that housed her large cookbook collection.
Cecily Brownstone was The Associated Press Food Editor from 1947 to 1986 — for thirty-nine years. During that time she was the most widely published of syndicated food writers. The five recipe columns and two food features she wrote for the A.P. each week appeared in papers all over the United States, in addition to a number of other countries.
Earlier in her career as a journalist, Brownstone was the Food Editor of Parent’s Magazine, and the Child Care Editor of Family Circle magazine. She also wrote a book for children, All Kinds of Mothers, illustrated by her niece, the artist Miriam Brofsky Kley.
Brownstone was also a consultant to Carl Sontheimer, president of Cuisinart, a physicist, entrepreneur, and founder of the food processor industry in America. With Sontheimer, Brownstone edited the highly regarded magazine, Pleasures of Cooking, and wrote Classic Cakes and Other Great Cuisinart Desserts (Hearst Books, 1994). She earlier wrote Cecily Brownstone’s Associated Press Cookbook (A.P., 1972).
Brownstone’s personal papers and cookbook collection is the unique expression of her personal interest in and encyclopedic knowledge of American culinary history and cookbooks, and her career in the food field.
The Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer called Cecily Brownstone “wonder child (and wonder woman).”
New York Times food columnist Molly O’Neil called Brownstone one of the “cornerstones of authentic cooking in New York.
On Brownstone’s retirement, former New York Times Food Editor Jane Nickerson wrote: “Of syndicated food writers, she’s been the most widely read.” Nickerson added: Brownstone’s recipes were always “unusual, appetizing, and accurate down to the last one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt.” Brownstone’s “success derived, in my view, from her sensitivity to readers’ tastes and her insistence that recipes give high, appealing results.”
Cecily Brownstone died on August 30, 2005 at the age of 96.
Summary: The Cecily Brownstone Papers are a diverse collection of materials, including: correspondence, press releases, photographs, publicity, articles and recipes authored by Brownstone, general food-related articles and recipes authored by others, calendars, notes, manuscript recipe books, photocopied cookbooks, bibliographical inventories, a menu collection, a postcard collection, a recipe box collection, a pamphlet collection, and videotapes relating to the food industry.Of particular relevance to the A/PA survey project are the author files on Asian and Asian American cookbook authors, which include Madhur Jaffrey, Calvin Lee, Helen Chen, and Kay Shimizu. In addition, some of Brownstone’s personal notes respond to individual cookbooks that focus on Asian cuisine such as Jim Lee’s Chinese Cookbook (undated), The People’s Republic of China Cookbook (undated), and Nancy Wheeler’s Indian Recipes (undated). Pamphlets pulled from her cookbook collection include materials on Hawaii, China, India, and Indian curry recipes. The collection also contains miscellaneous printed materials relating to A/PA history such as a 1945 Directory of Japanese Americans in New York and a document entitled, “The Krishna Consciousness Movement is Authorized.”
Total Size: 55 linear feet, 35 boxes
APA-related Size: .5 linear feet, .5 boxes
Languages of materials: English
Location: Fales Library & Special Collections, New York University
Bibliographic Control: finding aid
Finding Aid Link: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/fales/brownstone.html
Conditions Governing Access: Open to researchers without restrictions; Appointments are necessary to consult archive and manuscript materials.