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MC 432

Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. Papers of Simone Beck, 1920-1993: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 432
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Title: Papers of Simone Beck, 1920-1993
Date(s): 1920-1993
Quantity: 8.55 linear feet (20+1/2 file boxes) plus 7 folio folders, 4 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 25 folders of photographs, 6 audiotapes)
Language of materials: Materials in French and English.
Abstract: Recipes, correspondence, lesson plans, etc., of Simone Beck, cookbook author and cooking instructor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 92-M151, 93-M3, 94-M19, 95-M160
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library in September 1992 by Julia Child, who had received them from the Fischbacher estate and Jane Molard.

Processing Information:

Processed: September 1995
By: Jacalyn R. Blume


Access. Folder #232 is unavailable for research until July 2019 while being digitized. The remainder of the collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Simone Beck as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Simone Beck Papers, 1920-1993; item description, dates. MC 432, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Julia Child, 1925-1993 (MC 644); Additional papers of Julia Child, 1890-2004 (MC 660); and Papers of Avis DeVoto, 1929-1990 (A-167).


The following items have been removed from the collection (September 1995):


Cookbook author and cooking instructor Simone "Simca" Beck was born in Normandy, France, in 1904. Except for a few years spent learning bookbinding and a brief career as a sales representative for the family silicate business, through which she met her second husband, Simone Beck's career was devoted to food. As a young girl, she enjoyed helping the family cook, occasionally preparing desserts or even entire meals. In 1933, as her marriage to Jacques Jarlaud was coming to an end, Beck began to take classes at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. She married Jean Victor Fischbacher in 1937, retaining her maiden name as a nom de plume and professionally, but using her husband's name socially.
Beck's professional career as a cook and teacher began after World War II, and after she had joined the Cercle des Gourmettes, an exclusive women's culinary club. As her experience and responsibilities as a member of the club increased, Beck found herself increasingly involved in the culinary world. Louisette Bertholle inspired her to write a cookbook for Americans and her husband encouraged her. After an unsuccessful attempt at writing a full-length cookbook, Beck and Louisette Bertholle published the brief What's Cooking in France? in 1952. This was followed by the booklet, Le Pruneau Devant le Forneau: Recettes de Cuisine (ca. 1952), Becks's only publication in French. After Beck met Julia Child in 1949, the idea of writing a French cookbook for Americans was rekindled. She wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle; it was published in 1961. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II (with Julia Child) followed in 1970.
Both Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child became members of the Cercle des Gourmettes. Within a few years of meeting, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child formed l'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes to give lessons in French cooking to American women living in Paris. The school continued, on and off, into the late 1970s. While Julia Child became a successful television chef in the United States, Beck continued teaching at home. Some of her students were already successful chefs; others became well-known chefs. In 1972 she published her own cookbook, Simca's Cuisine (with Patricia Simon), using, among others, some of the recipes that had not been included in her previous books with Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle. She published the second volume, New Menus from Simca's Cuisine in 1979 with Michael James, since 1970 her student, friend, and assistant. Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca's Cuisine, her autobiography and last cookbook (with Suzy Patterson), was published in 1991.


The collection is arranged in four series:


These papers primarily document Simone Beck's culinary career. Much of the material is in French. Manuscript and typescript recipes, as well as recipes clipped from France-soir, Elle, and other periodicals, comprise the bulk of the collection; many of them are annotated by Beck for one or more purposes: publications, cooking classes, or demonstrations. Also included are numerous newspaper and magazine clippings about Beck and Julia Child, including reviews of their books; and photographs.
Folder titles in quotation marks or in French are Simone Beck's; the processor's translations of French titles appear in square brackets next to the original title.
Clippings were discarded after photocopying.
The papers are arranged in four series:
Series I, Personal (#1f-28f), consists of clippings, most regarding her culinary career and her work with Julia Child, as well as scrapbooks, guest lists, and photographs.
Series II, Correspondence (#29-209), mostly concerns cooking and food. Most is with Julia Child and Michael James; other correspondents include her editor Judith Jones at Alfred A. Knopf, as well as students and others.
Series III, Teaching and demonstrations (#210-381), consists mainly of recipes, menus, and lesson plans for classes of the Ecole des Trois Gourmandes; for private lessons at Beck's home, including "Simca's Cuisine" School; and for various demonstrations abroad. In addition to recipes, menus, and other papers from the Cercle des Gourmettes, there are also correspondence with students, some financial records, and photographs of cooking demonstrations and students.
Series IV, Writings (#382-569), includes materials for Beck's books, notably research for and drafts of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (including final revisions on a draft of the manuscript rejected by Houghton Mifflin), as well as portions of an earlier, unpublished effort by Beck and Louisette Bertholle. This series also includes taped interviews with Beck for Food and Friends, most in French.


Index to Ecole des 3 Gourmandes master file of recipes (folders #235-241)

Note: A semicolon (;) appears between recipes on the same page; double slashes (//) appear between recipes on different pages but filed by Beck within the same numbered folder. An asterisk (*) indicates that a folder was empty and no "master copy" of this recipe exists.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Cooking, French
Cooking--Study and teaching
Cooking schools
Food and friends: recipes and memories from Simca's cuisine
Food writers
Food writers--France
Mastering the art of French cooking
New menus from Simca's cuisine
Simca's cuisine
Women cooks--France
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Beard, James, 1903-1985
Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. Food and friends
Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. Mastering the art of French cooking
Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. New menus from Simca's cuisine
Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. Simca's cuisine
Bertholle, Louisette
Brandel, Catherine
Cercle des Gourmettes
Child, Julia
Cutler, Carol
David, Elizabeth, 1913-1992
DeVoto, Avis
Donsky, Joanne
Ecole des Trois Gourmandes
Ferrone, John
Fisher, M. F. K. (Mary Frances Kennedy), 1908-1992
James, Michael, 1950-
Jones, Judith
Kamman, Madeleine
Kump, Peter
Lucas, Dione, 1909-1971
Molard, Jane
Olney, Richard
Patterson, Suzanne
Southwick, Elsie