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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Personal, 1990-1997, undated

Food Writing, 1975-1983, 1995-2015, undated

Other Writing, 1988, undated

Subject/Research Files, 1970s-2015

Austin History Center

Virginia B. Wood Papers

An Inventory of the Collection



Collection Summary

Creator: Wood, Virginia B., 1950-2018
Title: Virginia B. Wood Papers
Dates: 1975-2015
Dates (Bulk): 1988-2006
Abstract: Virginia B. Wood was a food writer in Austin, Texas, who is largely recognized for her role as the food editor for the Austin Chronicle from 1997 to 2014. She also owned her own catering business and co-wrote a cookbook for the local restaurant Fonda San Miguel. The materials in her collection largely document her work at the Austin Chronicle, the research and publication of Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art, and various subject files she kept on the Austin food scene, dating primarily from 1988 to 2006.
Accession number: AR.2018.019
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet (4 boxes, 2 oversize boxes)
Location: Archives stacks, qAR
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Sketch

Virginia B. Wood was born in 1950 to Loruth Walden and William Hobart Wood in Midland, Texas. She and her family visited Austin during her childhood for her dad’s position on the State Board of Pharmacy. Wood eventually moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas where she studied Spanish and early childhood education.

She taught briefly in Florence, Texas, and then returned to Austin where she began baking at Fonda San Miguel. She worked nights and weekends making tortillas and desserts at the restaurant. That led to a new career as a professional baker. She spent the early 1980s selling baked goods to Austin restaurants including Ricco’s, Mike & Charlie’s Emporium, Katz’s Deli, Magnolia Café, Kerbey Lane Café, and Basil’s.

She then studied journalism at Austin Community College and began writing a syndicated column of 500-word stories that was published in newspapers across Texas. In 1995, she started a food column in the Austin Chronicle. From 1997 to 2014, she was the full-time food editor for the Austin Chronicle.

In 2005, she co-wrote Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art. She died in 2018 at a care facility in San Antonio, Texas and is buried in Midland.

Source

Broyles, Addie. “Longtime Austin food columnist Virginia B. Wood dies at age 67,” Relish Austin (blog), Austin American-Statesman, March 12, 2018, http://food.blog.mystatesman.com/2018/03/02/longtime-austin-food-columnist-virginia-b-wood-dies-at-age-67/

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Scope and Contents

The collection is arranged into four series that document Virginia B. Wood’s personal life, food writing, other creative writing, and research/subject files. The personal materials contain a very small amount of correspondence in the form of thank you cards and letters from 1990 to 1995. Of note are letters from Women & Their Work regarding Wood’s fundraising assistance in 1990 and 1994. A 1997 goodbye letter sent by James A. Michener to his friends prior to his death was framed by Wood, but for preservation purposes removed from the frame. Also in her personal materials is a half-filled bankruptcy worksheet from a personal lawyer.

The bulk of the collection documents Wood’s food writing career. Wood saved the Food Section from the Austin Chronicle for various years between 1995 and 2015. The Food Sections of 1995, 2008-2010, and 2013 are comprehensive, but there are very few (under 5 issues) for the years 1998, 1999, 2012, and 2014-2015. An undated draft of a cookbook titled “Crowd Pleasers: Cooking in Quantity” with a stamp from a New York literary agent, Anita Diamant, provides recipes designed to provide 60-100 servings. The bulk of the food writing documents Wood’s research and writing on Austin restaurant Fonda San Miguel, which serves interior Mexican cuisine. Notes and postcards about the restaurant’s art collection, a calendar commemorating their 40th anniversary, a bound menu, correspondence sent to Fonda San Miguel’s owner Thomas Gilliland, and a history of Chef Miguel Ravago’s career make up the materials Wood collected on the restaurant. Early reviews of the restaurant from 1975 to 1983 that were published in Texas Monthly and a 2002 feature article published in the Austin Chronicle are also collected. The drafts, outlines, meeting agendas, and proofs of the book Wood co-wrote, Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art, along with the recipes and testing questionnaires from 2003 to 2005 make up a large portion of the materials.

Other writing by Wood, in the form of short stories and plays, largely dates from 1988 and contains the stamp of her New York literary agent Anita Diamant. Subject/research files collected from the mid-1970s to 2015 make up the remainder of the collection. Of note are recipes and notes from the Ann Clark French Cooking School in Austin, Texas during the 1970s. A large number of recipes from Wood’s personal catering business are also of interest. There is also a bound recipe collection with a hand-painted cover for Maria Corbalan’s Taco Xpress and a Spamarama cookbook gifted to Wood, who served as a 1998 Spamarama Cook-Off judge. Other items of note are a 2005 master’s thesis and documentary created by Lori Najvar on Texas Czech sausage; research on the history of Boggy Creek Farm; and a scrapbook dedicated to Threadgill’s that dates from 1984-1993. A PDF on a disc of a press release for Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza’s 20th anniversary was printed and placed in the collection for easier access. Additionally, there is documentation of Wood’s involvement as a James Beard Book Award judge and information about Texas Woman’s University’s Cookbook Collection.

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Arrangement

Collection is arranged into four series:


  • Personal
  • Food Writing
  • Other Writing
  • Subject/Research Files

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open to all users

Use Restrictions

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Wood, Virginia B., 1950-2018.
Wood, Laruth W.
Covington, Suzanne.
Ravago, Miguel, 1945-2017.
Gilliland, Tom, 1938-.
Michener, James Albert, 1907-1997.
Clark, Ann.
Najvar, Lori.
Thompson-Anderson, Terry.
Subjects (Organizations)
Fonda San Miguel (Restaurant).
Austin Chronicle.
Threadgill's (Restaurant : Austin, Tex.).
Women and Their Work (Organization).
International Association of Culinary Professionals.
La Bonne Cuisine School at Bon Appetit.
Boggy Creek Farm.
Texas Woman's University.
Taco Xpress.
Subjects
Cookbooks--Publishing
Cooking, Mexican.
Restaurants--Texas--Austin.
Cooking, American--Texas--Austin.
Recipes.
Authors, American--Texas--Austin.
Women--Texas--Austin.
Places
Austin (Tex.)--Social life and customs.
Document Types
Brochures.
Correspondence.
Financial records.
Recipes.
Writings.
Files by subject.
Instructional materials.
Press releases.
Menus.
Calendars.

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Related Material

General Collection


  • A 641.5972 GI Gilliland, Tom, Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art. 2005.
  • A 641.59764 WH, What's Cooking in the Park? 1995.

Archives & Manuscripts


Austin Files


  • AF Biography - Wood, Virginia, B.
  • AF Subject - Restaurants, lunchrooms, etc. R3800
  • AF Subject - Bakers & Bakeries B0100
  • AF Subject - Food F2500
  • AF Subject - Postcards-Restaurants, lunchrooms, etc. P6150

Periodicals


  • Austin Chronicle
  • Fonda San Miguel News
  • Bon Appetit Newsletter

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Separated Material

The following issues of the Fonda San Miguel newsletter were moved to the Periodicals Collection: Fall 1999, Summer 2002.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Virginia B. Wood Papers (AR.2018.019). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2018/046

Donation Date: 06/30/18, 07/31/18

Processing Information

Processing and finding aid by Kelly Hanus in October 2018.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Personal, 1990-1997, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Bankruptcy worksheet, undated
2 Goodbye letter from James A. Michener, 1997
3 Thank you cards, 1990-1995

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Food Writing, 1975-1983, 1995-2015, undated

Location Box
qAR 088-089 Austin Chronicle Food Section (assorted), 1995-2015
Box Folder
1 4 "Crowd Pleasers" draft, undated
Fonda San Miguel, 1975-1983, 2002-2006, 2015
Box Folder
1 5 Art collection notes, 2004
6 Art collection postcards, 2006
Location BoxItem
qAR 087/002 Calendar (Celebrating 40 Years), 2015
087/001 Menu, undated
Box Folder
1 7 Correspondence - Thomas Gilliland, 2004
9 Miguel Ravago history, undated
Box Folder
2 6 Early reviews in Texas Monthly, 1975-1983
7 Feature in Austin Chronicle, 2002
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art, 2003-2005
Box Folder
1 8 Drafts, 2004
Box Folder
10 Notes, outlines, meeting agendas, 2003-2005
Box Folder
1 11-12 Uncorrected proofs, 2005
13 Final proof, 2005
Recipes, 2004, undated
Box Folder
2 1-2 Handwritten recipes, undated
3-4 Tested recipes, 2004
5 Testing questionnaire, 2004

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Other Writing, 1988, undated

Box Folder
2 8 “No Fat Chicks” play, 1988 March
9 “Music Hath Charms…” story idea for Beauty and the Beast, 1988 March
10 Story ideas for “Designing Women”, undated

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Subject/Research Files, 1970s-2015

Box Folder
2 11 Ann Clark French Cooking School, circa 1970s
12 Boggy Creek Farm research, undated
13 Clippings, undated
14 Grammar lessons, undated
Box Folder
3 1 James Beard Book Awards, 2002
Las Dulces/At Home on the Range Catering, 1990, undated
Box Folder
3 2 Invoices, 1990
3-4 Recipes, undated
Lori Najvar, 2005 May
Box
3 Czech Links: 800 Pounds of Tradition documentary (VHS), 2005 May
5 Texas Czech Sausage, 2005 May
6 Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza, 2008 November 5
7 Spamarama, 1998
Taco Xpress recipe collection, undated
Box Folder
4 1 Texas Good Mornings (draft) by Terry Thompson-Anderson, 2015
2 Texas Woman’s University Cookbook Collection, 1999
3 Threadgills scrapbook pages, 1984-1993
4 Villa de Patos, undated

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