Many years ago, I started collecting WNAX Neighbor Lady cookbooks. They began in 1941 and went on until the 1970s when more and more women were heading into the workforce rather than staying home. Wynne Speece, known as the “Neighbor Lady” on WNAX, connected with housewives across the Midwest with her radio program and cookbooks. At one point, Speece was being sent 250,000 letters a year, some of which are published in her annual cookbooks. Not only are the books a fascinating time capsule full of good recipes, household hints, and letters, but they were a lifeline for the lonely and sometimes isolated American housewife. Wynne’s warm and friendly demeanor drew in millions of listeners and people felt like they knew her, hence the friendly tone of the letters.
I started collecting the cookbooks in the late 1990s when I purchased a box of cookbooks at my great aunt’s estate auction. Once I got around to actually looking through them, I was hooked – mostly from the letters that were published in each book. They are a glimpse into history and also a testimonial to the resiliency of the housewives in the years during and following WWII. Over a couple of decades, I collected all of the books from 1941-1960, along with some scattered later ones. It is pretty common to find these cookbooks on Ebay or at local antique shops.
I finally got around to scanning some of them in. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. New cookbooks will be added as soon as I scan them in. Click on a cover below to start your WNAX journey!