Short takes: "guestbook" - WOTD-OED + visitors' book + soup house/shop/kitchen

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 13 12:17:15 UTC 2010

guestbook 1855-->1849
visitors' book [visitor 6.] 1846-->1778
soup-shop 1799-->1797
soup-house 1861-->1800
soup-kitchen 1839-->[1822 US]-->1800

The OED starts out "guestbook" with a 1855 reference (published in NYC)
and identifies the word as "orig. U.S.":
> *1855* J. BROUGHAM Basket of Chips 270 He plunged into the mysteries
> of the guest-book, where, alas! for Araminta Blodgers, and for true
> love! the first name he saw was that of Mrs. Skinnington, the rich
> widow from his own immediate neighborhood.

There are several things that need to be changed here.

First, a second 1855 citation (I found the Brougham one in GB as well).
Bentley's Miscellany. Volume 38. 1855
"Take Me Home Again." p. 625
> When Sir Walter's giant frame gave way, the usual panacea of a
> southern clime was ordered for the shattered invalid, ... Nor was it
> uninteresting to remark that the last authenticated scrap of the
> patriot's writing is stated to be an entry scrawled in a guest-book in
> the Tyrol, thus--"*Sir Walter Scott*"--"/for Scotland !/"

What strikes me about this is that this is not US usage. So the question
immediately arises if the "Orig. U.S." remark is accurate. The next
entry only increases the doubt.
Dolman's Magazine. [New Series.] Vol. 1:5. London: May, 1849
Catholic Monthly Intelligence. Letters from Italy.--No. IV. Naples,
April 1st, 1849. p. 339
> Returning to Salerno, I observed in the guest-book of the hotel the
> names of four Englishmen, to which was appended a note, stating that
> the party had been attacked on their way to Paestum, last April, by
> fifteen armed brigands, who had robbed them of five gold watches and
> all their money.

But even Brougham's entry is inaccurate. Oh, yes, of course, the volume
cited by the OED was published in 1855. But the story first appeared in
print in a periodical, six years earlier. Oops!
Graham's Magazine. Volume 34:2. Philadelphia: February, 1849
Jasper Leech. The Man Who Never Had Enough. [signed, B.] p. 116

Yes, the quotation is precisely the same as the initial OED citation, as
is the name of the chapter. This brings the potential origin back to the
US, but can this really be justified as "Orig. U.S." usage? With two
citations appearing on both sides of the Atlantic, precedence is no clear.

Juggling European languages produces only two (that I know of) obvious
calques: German Gästebuch and Dutch gastenboek. GB non-English resources
are limited, and no German citation appears prior to 1901. But there is
a Dutch one from 1865.

> Niei-leden, die de vereeniging wenschen te bezoeken, moeten zich door
> een lid doen inleiden; dit kan echter jaarlijks slechts tweemaal
> geschieden. De namen der gasten en hunne inleiders worden in het
> gastenboek opgeteekend.

This is not enough information, of course, to suggest who borrowed from
whom (although the German penchant for having their own compounds for
everything suggests that German borrowed from English). But the French
version, "livre d'or" certainly goes back much further. And, prior to
1849, there are multiple instances of "hotel register", so it's not like
there was no phrase to describe the object in question (at least, as far
as hotels go--party guestbooks are another matter, but I don't even know
where to look for that.) Then there is the matter of "visitors' book"
(or, occasionally "visitor's book").

OED has "visitors' book" under visitor 6. (which is cross-linked under

> 1846 Punch  20 June 278/2 (heading) Ibrahim Pacha's *visitors' book.

This is off by a mile.

Rules and Orders of the Public Hospital in the Town of Cambridge.
[Addenbrooke's Hospital] 1778
MATRON. p. 15
> 86. That she cause the Names of the Patients to be called over in each
> Ward every Morning and Evening, and enter in the House-Visitors Book
> the Names of those, who are absent.

This one is a variation without an apostrophe (and is really
"House-Visitors Book"). Both versions /with/ apostrophe (and without!)
can be found in 1801, although one of them can be pushed back to 1798.
Hints designed to promote beneficence, temperance, & medical science.
Volume 1. By John Coakley Lettsom. 1801
Information respecting the Committee of Management. p. 109
> As soon as the delivery of the soup for the day is completed, the
> visitors check the money by the number of quarts of soup which appear
> from the numerical book to have been sold. The amount thereof,
> together with the quantity of soup delivered, are inserted in the
> visitors' book*, and signed by the three members in attendance, who
> afterwards seal up the money in a bag, inclosing therein a note of the
> emount, which is immediately conveyed to the secretary, who after
> converting the copper into specie or bank notes, hands the same
> weekly, to the treasurer.
> *See the form of the visitor's book.

[Footnote in the original]

The form for "Visitors Book" (no apostrophe) appears on p. 117. The
language also appears to be similar to that in the 1798 volume (same
topic, in fact--the soup kitchens for the poor).
The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing
the Comforts of the Poor. Vol. 1. London: 1798.
No. XXXIX. Extract from an account of charity in Spitalfields, for
supplying the poor with soup and potatoes; with observations. By Thomas
Bernard. [30th March, 1798] p. [216-]218
> On the 16th of January, 1798, a shop was opened at No. 53, Brick-Lane,
> Spitalfields, for the purpose of selling to the poor, in that part of
> the metropolis good meat soup at a penny a quart: to which they have
> since added a supply of potatoes at the rate of 15 lb. for two-pence,
> or 30 lb. for four-pence. ... Before they leave the house the visitors
> examine the cash received, ascertain that it agrees with the number of
> quarts sold, and enter it in the visitor's book, with any remark that
> may have occurred to them, and sign their names.

The page header for the article is "Siptalfields Soup Shop", which
predates the OED soup 4. entry by 1 year. This made me wonder about
variations on "soup-shop".

> 1799 Manch. Mercury  8 Jan. 4/5 The plan of the *soup shops at
> Birmingham might be advantageously followed at Manchester.

There is a second 1798 appearance, but it actually refers to yet another
volume of the above Reports.
Gentleman's Magazine. Volume 84. July 1798.
160. The third report of the Society for bettering the Condition, and
increasing the Comforts, of the Poor. [Review] p. 600
> The pease-soup sold at the village soup shop at Iver, Bucks, at 3d.
> per quart, was made by a poor woman, set up by a subscript on of 1s.
> per week from November 12 to May 12.

More specifically, the description is entered in the 1797 (not 1798)
volume by "Mrs. Bernard".
The Third Report of the Society for Bettering the Condition and
Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. London: 1797.
No. XVIII. Extract from an account of a village soup shop, at Iver, in
the County of Bucks. By Mrs. Bernard. [2d Nov. 1797.] p. 140.
> In October, 1796, a village soup shop was set up at Iver, in the
> county of Buckingham. The most proper person that occurred for that
> purpose, was the wife of Richard Learner, an industrious man, who had
> lost a leg by an accident in the course of his labour ; and who,
> notwithstanding that disadvantage, had brought up a large family
> decently and creditably, without parochial relief.

Then, following the recipe for the pea soup the shop provides, Mrs.
Bernard follows up:

> The same soup shop is now opened again at Iver, for the six winter
> months, on the same plan. A similar one is also set up at Langley, the
> adjoining parish.

The same report (No. XVIII) is also reproduced in the 1798 volume (the
Reports, above), which has 4 other hits for "soup shop"--in reports XII
(p. 68--a kitchen apparently set up by none other than Count Rumford),
XVIII, of course (p. 102), XXVIII (London--p. 148, also referring to
"Rumford boilers" and "Rumford roaster"), XXX (Birmingham, again by
Thomas Bernard--p. 162), and the above-mentioned XXXIX.

The First Report--also published by Thomas Bernard in 1797--also
mentions "soup shops" on page 4 of the Appendix, although the phrase is
not integrated.
> Subjects on which the society is desirous of obtaining and circulating
> information.
> ...
> Village kitchens, and soup shops.

The preface ("Preliminary Address to the Public") is signed by Thomas
Bernard on "27th April 1797".

It seems we are indebted to Count Rumford both for the invention of the
soup shop (or soup kitchen, I suppose--started in 1796) and for the
coinage of the phrase "soup shop" that goes with it. I was tempted
initially to credit the Bernards, until I got more into the text. But it
is Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford--inventor of the kitchen range
(so useful in a soup shop!), double boiler and the coffee
percolator--who should get the lion's share of the credit.
[Incidentally, both were colonial loyalists who left their estates under
different circumstances--perhaps they knew each other well before 1770,
when Governor Francis Bernard, Thomas's father, was forced to return to
England, followed five years later by Thompson.]

"Soup shop" is basically the same thing as "soup-house" and "soup
kitchen", which OED dates to 1861 and 1839, respectively. There is a
bunch of "soup house" hits in US newspaper database starting with 1
January 1861, but not earlier. But GB is much more generous, not that it
is necessary--the "Vistors Book" form (p. 117) is among a total of 16
pages in the 1801 Hints that refer to the construction and use of a
"Soup-house". The whole thing starts on p. 102 (not including the TOC hit).
Measures to be pursued respecting the first Establishment of a Soup
Institution. p. 102
> When a Soup-house is in contemplation in any particular district of
> the metropolis, it has been the usual custom for a few of the most
> respectable inhabitants to invite, (by means of /a short address,
> explanatory of the design,)/ a general meeting of all the reputable
> houskeepers, and others, without any regard to the parishes, on a
> certain day, when the business is explained.--A subscription opened.--

[Perhaps I am just being dense, with all the other stuff that I've been
looking up, but I don't seem to be able to identify the OED meaning of
"address" used here. I am just dropping this along with all the other
stuff, to let someone else possibly figure it out. It may be an
post-dating of a supposedly obsolete usage, but it seems perfectly
ordinary to me (not obsolete), except that it does not involve a
delivered speech. So someone is confused. Perhaps it's just me.]

This can still be improved further--picking up "soup-kitchen" in the
The Critical Review. Volume 30. September, 1800
Monthly Catalogue [Brief reviews]. p. 118
> /A brief Account of the Soup-Society instituted in Clerkenwell ; with
> a Ground-Plan of the Soup-House. 8vo. 3d. Darton and Harvey. 1800./
> A poor man made the following observations to us respecting the soup
> house in the parish to which he belonged. "My wife gets a quart of
> excellent soup for one penny ; but she is the whole morning getting
> it. She thus loses the time which should have been employed in her own
> house ; and, the weather being cold, and a number of gossips being
> assembled, she requires a glass of gin to keep up her spirits." ...
> The reason for having the soup-kitchen only in the winter does not
> strike us as satisfactory ..."

The Soup Society of Clerkenwell appears to be a popular topic in the
years 1800-1, but I could not find the original book in GB. Meanwhile,
Vol. 2 of the Rumfordian Reports was published in 1800, with a reference
to both "soup-house" and "soup-kitchen" in the same paragraph as well.
The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing
the Comforts of the Poor. Vol. 2. London: 1800.
p. 99 of the Appendix
> /Free Church at Bath, p. 301. l. 5./
> Some delay in opening the free church in St.Giles's has been
> unavoidably occasioned by the increased demand of the poor upon the
> soup house of that district, adjoining to, and in some degree
> connected with that church. On this account it has been deemed proper
> to fit up the soup kitchen there, with twice the accommodation
> originally intended ; and until that could be completed, the necessary
> repairs and preparation of the church could not well be proceeded in.
> ... /4th April, 1800./

There may be some quibbling about the use of "soup kitchen" here,
especially since it appears to be subsidiary to the "soup house"--it is
not the establishment to provide soup for the poor, but rather the
kitchen part of it alone. Still, this is worth noting.

But there is no question that 20 years later the term "soup kitchen" had
already been established on the islands. Still, given that both 1800
references have "soup-kitchen" alongside "soup-house", it seems
plausible that the term was already associated with the enterprise.
There are, however, no earlier reports.

A number of US papers reported the same story from June 26 /Dublin
Journal/ throughout August, 1822. The earliest is below.

Headline: Dublin June 28. Distressed Districts; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Baltimore Patriot, published as Baltimore Patriot.; Date:
08-12-1822; Volume: XX; Issue: 33; Page: [2/3]; Location: Baltimore,
> From Galway it is stated, that the measure of misery is overflowing,
> and rapidly increasing. In the town, the soup kitchen is unavailable
> to supply the applicants, the hospitals are full, and fever increases.

The same story can be found in several periodicals in GB as well. But
the Baltimore Patriot appears to be the earliest such use in the US.

There is plenty of time for the term "soup-kitchen" to establish itself
between 1800 and 1822. But, aside from copies of this report, the next
appearance of "soup-kitchen" in the US archives is from 1837. So the
propagation of both the concept and the terminology to the US might have
been much slower. In the UK and Ireland, on the other hand, "soup
kitchen" was a well established term, certainly within a decade.
An Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of the Society for
the Discharge and Relief of the Persons Imprisoned for Small Debts
Throughout England and Wales. By James Neild. 1808
Account of the Various Prisons of England, Scotland, and Wales. April 1808
Account of Prisons, and of Persons Confined for Debt. Durham. Remarks.
p. 171
> This was formerly the felons' day-room, but which the active and
> intelligent keeper has converted into a /soup-kitchen ;/ the
> establishment and support of which arises as follows : /viz/. There
> are twelve prebendaries and a dean ; three of the prebendaries have
> dispensations, and do not keep any residence, nor contribute to the
> soup establishment.
The Belfast Monthly Magazine. Volume 4:21. April 30, 1810
Rules and Regulations for the House of Industry, in Belfast ... . p. 265
> The committee of distributions shall meet every Monday evening at
> eight o'clock. The duty of this committee shall be to provide the
> establishment with the sundry articles dispensed to the poor, as
> coats, potatoes, and ingredients for the soup kitchens.

As there is no obvious transition point between the references to "soup
kitchen" as the kitchen space of a "soup house" and as the entire
establishment, it seems warranted to accept the term from its earliest



guestbook, n.    [DRAFT ENTRY Dec. 2004]

     *1.* orig. /U.S/. A book detailing the visitors or guests at a
particular place or event; esp. a book in which a visitors to a domestic
residence, a tourist attraction, etc., can leave their names, addresses,
and comments. Cf. /visitors' book/ s.v. VISITOR n. 6.
*1855* J. BROUGHAM Basket of Chips 270 He plunged into the mysteries of
the guest-book, where, alas! for Araminta Blodgers, and for true love!
the first name he saw was that of Mrs. Skinnington, the rich widow from
his own immediate neighborhood. *1890* /Amer. Stationer/ 10 Apr. 850/3
Owners of fine country residences will, this coming season. introduce a
'guest book'. It is to be a large morocco bound volume, and on each
azure printed page a guest will register his or her name. *1903*
/Edwardsville/ (Illinois) /Intelligencer/ 6 Nov. 1/3 While the guests
were busy inscribing their names in the guest book..Mr. and Mrs.
Lynch..slipped out through the back yard. *1939* N. WALN /Reaching for
Stars/ x. 201 His signature is the first in the 'new' guestbook, the one
we signed. *1961* /Times/ 15 July 10/1 The inspector's final comment is
an admirable solution to the problem of what to write in guest-books.
*2003* /N.Y. Times/ 1 June I. 12/5 He inscribed the words 'never forget'
in a guest book, and alighted his motorcade to return to Krakow.
     *2.* /Computing/. A facility on a web site, etc., which records the
details of anyone who visits the site; /spec/. one which allows visitors
to leave comments about the site.
*1992* /Adminstrative Tool, Kind Of/ in /alt.gopher/ (Usenet newsgroup)
26 Apr., Next, pick a path and name for your guestbook (the file which
records sites which have hit on you). Leave it empty ("") if you don't
want a guestbook. *1999* /Patchwork & Quilting/ Feb.-Mar. 47/1 The
simplest way to be heard is probably via a 'guestbook'... These work
just like a real guestbook--visitorsto a website may leave comments or
read the comments left by others. *2002* /Createonline/ Nov. 13
(/advt/.) You can manage your files on-line, install discussion boards
and guest books in seconds, take complete control of all your e-mail and
password-protect directories.

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