The dissertation “Making Modern Fare” makes the case that looking at U.S. foodways in the late nineteenth century can shed new light on how we understand the turn towards consumerism in American history, when it occurred, and its connection to business and labor histories. Focusing on Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s, the structure follows major steps in industrial food systems. Chapter 1 examines agricultural development with a focus on wheat and the parallel stories of Nancy Green and Randolph True Davis arriving at the 1893 World’s Fair. The second chapter takes up industrial processing through the lens of tourism to the Chicago Union Stock Yards. After that, chapter 3 focuses on wholesale and retail grocery with particular attention ot tradecards and magazine advertisements. Chapter 4 looks at the rise of public dining culture and the 1893 Waiter’s Strike. The fifth and final chapter explores the proliferation of home economics and the liminial position that middle class women held between production and consumption in the household in the face of novel industrial goods and doubled down commitments to respectability that coexisted in the Progressive Era. I have conducted preliminary archival research at the Newberry Library, University of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, and Chicago Public Library which I will continue in the coming months, as well as benefitted immensely from digitization efforts across innumerable sites committed to the preservation of archives and cultural heritage.

It is with great delight and some surprise that I can trace a few threads through my work of the last five years. Starting at Hopkins, I wrote a first year paper on Nellie Murray, an entrepreneur and formerly enslaved caterer who upon emancipation built a renowned business in New Orleans, and the Lost Cause politics and entanglements of Creole cuisine. Murray’s recruitment to run the Creole Kitchen in the Louisiana Building at the 1893 World’s Fair proved pivotal to the develoment of my dissertation topic. This research is currently unpublished. With longstanding interests in food and history, I was fortunate to begin to bring them together as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond. These early forays are best encapsulated by two honors thesis projects, both available open source. The seeds of my interest in catering as well as African American history and Black studies are evident in the History project, “Free French ‘gentlemen of couleur’ : reconsidering race, ethnicity, and migration in Philadelphia’s catering industry, 1870-1930”. Likewise, early engagement with class and late-nineteenth century labor issues through naturalism and food are evident in what I wrote for the French department, “’Il est bon, aujourd’hui, le boudin’ : la nourriture esthétique et le goût dans le roman naturaliste Zolien”.