The only information we have about Malinda Russell is what was published in the introductory information to her book. What you will find here are links to Malinda Russell information we have found online. If you know of material that is not here, please provide a link and description of the material in the comments, below, and we will add it to the page. If you’re a journalist from the areas in which Malinda Russell lived or someone working in 19th century African American studies we’d love to hear from you. Our recipe testers are working on bringing Malinda Russell’s recipes alive. A great deal of scholarship is yet to be done on her life. As the only factual information we have is in the introductory material to her book, which you will find here, the references to her are by nature repetitive. Nonetheless, each mention offers a slightly different nuance and help us to develop a more rounded sense of who she was. A novelist who writes historical fiction could be the ideal person to help us develop a fuller sense of this extraordinary person. Her life and clear overarching sense of drive and purpose — the impossibility of having done what she did — will resonate with anyone working multiple jobs in a hostile environment and yet comes through it all with strength and determination.
We do not know the end of her story. Her life work, this book that we are celebrating here, burned up except for so few copies that only one survived, her dream of widely sharing her popular recipes, and gaining economic independence so she could try to pick up the pieces of her life she had left behind in Tennessee when she was forced to escape the South were dashed. I like to think the core strength that had gotten her to Paw Paw, Michigan, and to have actually written and published a cookbook, will have kept her strong. For me, Malinda Russell is a Job-like figure, a role model in perseverance against the odds. After her book was mostly destroyed in fire, she melted back into anonymity. It isn’t known what she did after after the loss of the dreams that were these books. We can offer her no greater honor than to bake her desserts, and to say her name.
- Malinda Russell Wikipedia Entry
- The PDF of the article by Jan Longone who recognized, purchased, and then donated to a library what seems to be the only copy of Malinda Russell’s book.
- An introductory article about Malinda Russell in the Detroit News, January 2020.
- New York Times article from November, 2007.
- JSTOR is a website that provides texts of scholarly articles. You are allowed to access 100 article PDFs per month for free if you register. As of this writing May 16, 2021, there are 16 references to “Malinda Russell” in articles in the JSTOR database. While most of these references are just that, references, they each add something to our understanding of Malinda Russell and her importance. Click here to bring up all references to Malinda Russell in the JSTOR database.