Recipes for Citizenship: Women, Cookbooks, and Citizenship in the Kitchen, 1941-1945

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Virginia Tech


This thesis argues that cookbooks and cooking literature prescribed domesticity, specifically linked to the kitchen, as an obligation for American women in World War II. Building on the work of culinary historians and gender scholars, I argue that the government enlisted women as "kitchen citizens." In contrast to the obligations of male military service, government propaganda, commercially-published cookbooks, community cookbooks, and agriculture extension pamphlets used understandings of middle-class femininity to prescribe women's identity and role in the war effort as homemakers. Despite the popular memory of wartime women as Rosie-the-Riveters, this thesis suggests that working outside the home was a temporary and secondary identity. During World War II, cooking literature re-linked women's work inside the home to political significance and defined women's domestic responsibilities as an obligation of American female citizenship.



World War II, domesticity, citizenship, cookbooks, Women