The Barclay Project

By Marissa Nicosia, with Christina Riehman-Murphy and Clara Drummond

Christian Barclay Jaffray (1680-1758) began gathering recipes for cookery, medicine, and dyeing cloth in 1697 when she was seventeen in a book that she titled “A Receipt Book, or, The Fruits of a Young Woman’s Spare Hours” (Manuscript, Scotland, 1697-1723).

This small, fine volume arrived at Penn State Libraries’ Eberly Family Special Collections as part of the “Robert Barclay of Ury family papers and maps” collection. Robert Barclay, Christian’s father, was a prominent Scottish Quaker leader and author of Apology for the True Christian Divinity (1678). The Ury family papers include Robert Barclay’s correspondence with William Penn and maps of his proprietary holdings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as Christian’s receipt book. Although the collection was acquired primarily for the historical and geographical papers connecting the Barclays to William Penn and Pennsylvania history, the daughter’s recipe book is a true gem.

Read the transcription!

Penn State undergraduate students have transcribed the entire manuscript and published it through the library’s digital exhibition platform. Special Collections as well as the Preservation, Digitization, and Conservation team prioritized Christian’s receipt book for digitization and this foundational work facilitated a multi-year transcription project. During the 2021-2022 academic year, Penn State Abington students enrolled in the undergraduate research project “What’s in a Recipe?” undertook a complete first-pass transcription of the manuscript under the supervision of Heather Froehlich, Marissa Nicosia, and Christina Riehman-Murphy. In 2022-2023 Jonah Carver (PSU class of 2023) held a Bednar Internship and worked to edit and prepare the transcription for publication online by comparing the initial transcription created by Abington students with the digital images of the manuscript online and the original manuscript in the Special Collections library.

Bake Barclay!

With a little strategic updating to modify the original seventeenth-century instructions, Christian’s recipes are a delight in the kitchen. Since 2022, we have featured baking recipes from this manuscript in our annual, global, friendly competition between Penn State Libraries and Monash University Libraries: The Great Rare Books Bake Off. We especially recommend her delectable “Sugar Biskets.” Marissa has also updated a few more of Christian’s recipes as part of her ongoing Cooking in the Archives project.

Dye Wool in Sad Purple!

During the summer and fall of 2023, Jonah, Marissa, and Christina joined collaborators at the Center for Virtual Material Studies to recreate a few of Christian’s recipes for dyeing wool in gorgeous colors like the warm mauve “Maiden’s Blush.” While there are not yet published, modernized versions of Christian’s dye recipes, experienced practitioners can try their hands at her recipe for “Sad Purple” (aka dark or deep purple) using the published transcription. The dyed wool that we collectively prepared was displayed alongside the manuscript (and many other fascinating materials) in the Special Collections exhibit Sad Purple and Mauve: A History of Dye-Making (September 2023-January 2024).

For more on these projects see:

Cooking in the

Instagram: @rare_cooking

Threads: @rare_cooking

Twitter/X: @rare_cooking & @Nicosia_Marissa


Facebook: CookingintheArchives

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
RA Kashanipour (July 1, 2024). The Barclay Project. The Recipes Project. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from

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