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Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
4.75 linear feet ((6 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 2 folio boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 2 photographs folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder.)
Series I, Julia Child, 1952-1988 (#1-36, folio boxes 2af-2bf, 41f-47, 71-92), includes correspondence tracing the evolution of Volume I of Mastering the Art of French Cooking from its inception to its publication. A wide range of other topics is covered in these letters: McCarthyism, the problems of security clearance, pitfalls and successes of a career in the United States Foreign Service, the national temperament and character of the French, Germans, Norwegians, English. Newspaper and magazine clippings and photographs are also included. Correspondents include Julia Child, Paul Child, Elizabeth David, Avis DeVoto, Bernard DeVoto, Simone Beck, Alfred A. Knopf, William Koshland, Judith Jones, Louisette Bertholle, Dorothy de Santillana, Benjamin Fairbank, and Paul Brooks. The bulk of the correspondence in this series is from Julia Child to DeVoto, although letters from other correspondents (including publishers and co-authors) that are related to the publication of Child's cookbooks are also included. Most letters from Paul Child are of a personal nature and describe the Child's professional activities and their experiences during their times in various cities in Europe and the United States.
Series II, Elizabeth David, 1957-1986 (#37-39, 48), includes correspondence between Avis DeVoto, Judith Jones, Alfred A. Knopf, and Elizabeth David primarily about issues with editing David's Italian Cooking, originally published in England, for American readers. Letters discuss the many differences between British and American measurements, cooking terms, the differences between brown and white eggs, etc.
Series III, Avis DeVoto, Peggy Harvey, and others, 1929-1990 (#40, 49-70), includes a check register; correspondence, notes and clippings; recipes; photographs; etc., belonging to Avis DeVoto. Correspondence with Judith Jones, Alfred A. Knopf, and Susan Sheehan regards Volume II of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and other manuscripts under review by Knopf as well as a biography of Knopf being written by Sheehan. Correspondence between Avis DeVoto, Peggy Harvey, and William Koshland of Alfred A. Knopf, relates to the editing of Harvey's cookbook, Season to Taste (1958). Correspondence between DeVoto and Simone Beck regards work on her cookbooks Simca's Cuisine (1972) and New Menus from Simca's Cuisine (1979). Other correspondence documents DeVoto's work as an editor with other authors, publishers, etc.; DeVoto's work with the Breadloaf Writers' Conference; and personal relationships with a number of people including food writer M.F.K. Fisher and William Raney of Bobbs Merrill Publishers.
Avis DeVoto handled much of her husband's correspondence during his lifetime, and it was her reply to a letter from Julia Child in Paris addressed to Bernard DeVoto that initiated the correspondence. An Easy Chair column decrying the ubiquitous, dull, stainless steel American paring knife had struck a sympathetic chord with Julia Child who decided to contribute a sharp, carbon steel French knife to the DeVoto menage. A close friendship bloomed across the Atlantic, but it was not until two years and some 120 letters later that the two met in Cambridge.
Paul Child was cultural attache with the United States Foreign Service until his retirement in 1962; he and his wife lived in Paris, Marseilles, West Germany, Norway, and Washington, DC. While one can follow the evolution of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in these letters, they cover a wide range of topics: McCarthyism, the reaction of Europeans to the Communist hysteria in the United States, the specter of security clearance, the pitfalls and successes of a career in the Foreign Service, as well as pungent comments about the national temperament and character of the French, the Germans, Norwegians, English, not to mention their food. The letters are written by literate and articulate observers, not only of the international scene but also of the local Cambridge community.
- Series I. Julia Child, 1952-1988 (#1-36, Folio Box 2a-Folio Box 2b, 41f+-47, 71-92)
- Series II. Elizabeth David, 1957-1986 (#37-39, 48)
- Series III. Avis DeVoto, Peggy Harvey, and others, 1929-1990 (#40, 49-70)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Avis DeVoto were given to the Schlesinger Library by Avis DeVoto in November 1969 and February and June 1970. Additional papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Avis DeVoto in September 1971 and March 1972, and by her son, Mark DeVoto, between November 1988 and December 2012.
- Box 1: 1-14
- Box 2: 15-36
- Folio boxes Folio Box 2a and Folio Box 2b: The French Chef Cookbook
- Box 3: 37-40
- Box 4: 42-52
- Box 5: 53, 56-63, 65
- Box 6: 66-70
- Box 7: 71-81
- Box 8: 82-92
By: Elizabeth Owen Shenton
Updated and additional material added: April 2015
By: Mark Vassar
- DeVoto, Avis. Papers of Avis DeVoto, 1929-1990: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
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