Front Cover: “Do Not Forget” and L. M. Montgomery

DNFBecause 90% of the content of TotUG is food-related, the occasional news clipping, society column, or story that was included among the legions of recipes seems all the more significant. Why did the author choose to paste a clipping of L.M. Montgomery’s “Do Not Forget” in the top right corner of the front cover of her scrapbook? The simple, and perhaps obvious, answer, is that she liked the poem.  Nevertheless, as a literary critic, I find that answer completely unsatisfying. I wonder about the original source of the poem (newspaper? local home journal? newsletter?) and why its message of kindness toward strangers might have particularly resonated with the author. During the time period in which I believe the author of TotUG was first starting her scrapbook (roughly the early 1900s), L. M. Montgomery (1874-1942) was just beginning her famous Anne of Green Gables series of novels. In 1916, she published The Watchman & Other Poems, but this collection does not contain “Do Not Forget.” lucy-maudSome preliminary research suggests Montgomery wrote this poem specifically for periodical publication and some sources claim it appeared in newspapers in multiple states.  The Adventist Archive has a reproduction of the September 1923 edition of the newsletter “Field Tidings” that contains the poem, so I can at least conclude it existed by that date.  How long “Do Not Forget” had been in circulation prior to its printing in “Field Tidings” is yet unclear.  The poem may have been a favorite among smaller, local newspapers, which due to murky/non-existent copyright laws, were able to print and reprint “Do Not Forget” in different editions without having 1) pay Montgomery for each reproduction and/or 2) credit other publications as the original source.  Regardless, the poem’s placement in TotUG demonstrates at least that the author did not consider her scrapbook to serve exclusively as a repository for culinary information.  Its inclusion also supports my preliminary hypothesis that this book functions as a sort of visual diary of its author.  I don’t think TotUT was intended for mass public consumption (which thus makes me feel a bit guilty analyzing it so intensely) but rather designed as very personal history to be viewed, and perhaps only understood, by the author and her immediate household. That this chronicle emerges through the lens of domesticity is not terribly surprising given the author was living in early twenty-first century rural Iowa (I think), a setting I’m willing to bet was fairly encouraging of traditional gender roles.  But that is not to say that the author wasn’t herself a radical or progressive thinker with regards to women’s equality because she sunk a considerable amount of energy into researching recipes.  I self-identify as a feminist and God knows spend a lot of my day thinking about food.

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4 Responses to Front Cover: “Do Not Forget” and L. M. Montgomery

  1. Carolyn Strom Collins says:

    Are still looking for publication information on L. M. Montgomery’s poem “Do Not Forget?”

  2. Carolyn Strom Collins says:

    “Do Not Forget” by LM Montgomery was first published in American Messenger in October 1901 (p 154). It was then published in about 24 more magazines and newspapers from 1901-at least 1923. (A new bibliography of LMM’s stories and poems is due to be published in 2016.)

  3. bridey1921 says:

    Thank you so much, Carolyn and thank you for reading!

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