Artifact Spotlight: Supreme Court Justice


Congress still hasn’t confirmed a new Supreme Court justice to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacancy. It’s a shame Charles Evans Hughes isn’t still around to help sort this mess out.


AP photo from the museum’s collection. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, 1934.

When Charles Evans Hughes joined the Supreme Court in 1910, he had already been a successful lawyer and New York governor. He resigned from the bench to run for president on the Republican ticket in 1916 against Woodrow Wilson. Hughes nearly won, too. A narrow margin of just 4000 votes would have given him California’s electoral votes and the presidency. It was his reputation as a no nonsense, incorruptible man that perhaps gave him an incorrect public image of austerity and aloofness.

Undeterred, he went on to be the secretary of state for Presidents Harding and Coolidge, and a World Court judge. He was confirmed as the Supreme Court Chief Justice by the United States Senate on February 13, 1930. He replaced former President William Howard Taft who oddly appointed Hughes to his first tenure on the Supreme Court (side note: Taft remains the only person to have held both offices of President and Chief Justice).

In his tenure as Chief Justice, Hughes had the distinction of swearing in President Franklin D Roosevelt for all three of his terms in 1933, 1937 and 1941. Other career highlights included assisting the court’s transition from property rights to individual rights and for striking down Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack the court” in 1937. He is remembered as one of the finest justices to sit on the bench.

This image is part of the museum’s permanent collection. Come see this photo and many others in the Archives.


Artifact spotlight: the vintage cookbook

The most important aspect of this post was figuring out how to work in a shout-out for my current television obsession:The Great British Bake-Off. Unlike other shows that encourage backstabbing, panic, and screaming for a  monetary prize, Bake-Off offers nothing more than the satisfaction of winning. It’s a kinder, gentler Twilight Zone sort of reality show. Contestants are friendly and quick to help each other. The judges offer advice and the hosts even lend helping hands (and freely graze on scraps left on benches). I especially love how bakes that fall on the floor are still judged for taste. Anyway, the show really highlights the joy of baking and isn’t that what baking should be about?

Speaking of the joy of baking, I suppose it’s time to get to the point. 2000.02.072


This is one of the oldest cookbooks in the Museum collection. The New Process Catalogue & Cookbook is dated 1892 and cost only $1.50 when published. It belonged to Mrs Elza M Balliett of Chicago and if its extremely poor condition is any indication, Mrs Balliett used this book a lot.

What I love about vintage cookbooks is the solid practical advice for cooking timeless staple foods.  There’s no need for specialty tools or hard-to-find ingredients, and the directions are not fussy. Sure, there are odd recipes for food no one makes anymore (hello, aspic and mustard pickles), but that’s what makes old cookbooks fun.

The Museum has a bunch of vintage cookbooks in the collection ranging from 1886- 1970. Come by and have a flick through. You might just get inspired to make something special.

Bonus: Mary Berry’s tiramisu cake recipe This recipe is not as complicated as it appears and ends up looking like a treat worthy of a special occasion. It tastes like a special occasion, too! Yay, I knew I could steer this back to Bake-Off.