by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian
While the vastness of Cameron artifacts, photos, and papers allows a uniquely thorough study of her life and personality, two artifacts offer particularly poignant clues to understanding this amazing woman: first, a remnant of her former life as a daughter of wealthy British merchants, the second a tool to assist her as a homestead housekeeper.
|MHS Artifact Collection|
Evelyn Cameron Collection
The second artifact is a much-used 1890 edition of Mrs. Lincoln's Boston cook book: What to do and what not to do in cooking. Mrs. Cameron inscribed the inside cover with “New York, March 1890,” suggesting that she purchased the book in New York during the Cameron’s 1889-90 honeymoon trip to the U.S. and Montana. The volume epitomizes a loved cookbook, with stains on favorite pages and endpapers filled with hand written notes. Not only does the book’s condition testify to its use, but Cameron’s diary entries refer to the book as though it were a dear friend. September 14, 1898, she reported, “Soup, chicken & rice, remains of Sunday’s pie, greens, mashed tatoes, tea, cake, . . . Read Mrs. Lincoln.” On 5 April 1904 she wrote, “Made cookies, successful from Mrs. Lincoln.” Time and time again, Evelyn documented her joyful use of the cookbook.
Cameron obviously treasured both the dress as well as the cookbook. The dress crossed the Atlantic, perhaps several times. And Evelyn kept the gown for decades after she ceased using it, not unlike contemporary women who preserve their wedding dresses. The dress symbolized her former life of "long" meals and monies spent on current fashions. The cookbook, on the other hand, was purchased during the very earliest stages of the Camerons' marriage, hinting that Evelyn was planning for her own kitchen. Mrs. Lincoln's cookbook signifies Evelyn's successful transition from a woman raised with servants to a self-sufficient rancher, photographer, and housewife. Although Mrs. Cameron left behind a wealth of words, photographs, and artifacts, we need only these two treasures to recognize the choices made by Evelyn Cameron and her journey from England to Terry, Montana.
|Catalog #PAc 90-87.35-5|
"Evelyn Cameron Kneading a panful of dough in her kitchen, August 1904."
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron
 1991.07.40 Dress, Montana Historical Society Museum
 Cameron diary, 27 October 1900.