HARRIS, FLORENCE MAE LAGANKE (2 May 1886 – 1 Mar. 1972), a native of Cleveland, was home economics editor of the PLAIN DEALER from 1922 to 1930 and the CLEVELAND PRESS from 1930 to 1938. Using her maiden name, LaGanke wrote over a dozen books and numerous articles. For 17 years (1927-1943), she wrote a nationally syndicated daily home economics column under the pseudonym “Nancy Page.”
LaGanke was the second oldest of five children of Robert F. and Lillie Isabel (Green) LaGanke. She graduated from high school in 1904. After a tour of Europe, she started in the home economics program at Pratt Institute. She completed her training at the Teacher's College, Columbia University, where she received a B.S. degree in 1910.
Her first position was that of a hospital dietitian in 1911 at St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland. In 1912 she took a job as Instructor in Household Administration at Columbia University’s College for Women, and Director of the Horace Mann Lunch Room. In the summer of 1913, she was the Director, Whittier Hall Dining Rooms, Columbia University.
In 1913, she took a job as an Instructor in Household Administration, Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY), where she was also in charge of Haydon Hall Cafeteria. From 1914 to 1918, she was an Instructor in Household Administration at Western Reserve University and in charge of the Flora Mather House Dining Rooms.
In the 1920-21 academic year, she took a job as Supervisor of the Teaching of Household Economics, University of California High School Faculty.
LaGanke married Frederick Aston Harris on 3 Nov. 1923. Born in London in 1872, Harris came to Cleveland when he was 18. He was employed by the VAN DORN IRON WORKS, and later was associated with the AUSTIN COMPANY.
Nancy Page Column
LaGanke gained national exposure when she started a syndicated column named "Nancy Page" on 20 Feb. 1927. The series begins with fictional Nancy, the bride from a wealthy family, and her young husband, Peter, a much poorer man. Nancy had all the problems of a bride to solve – housekeeping, cooking, sewing. Soon Lois, a girlfriend without the social advantages Nancy enjoyed, was injected into the plot. She had to go to Nancy for the right and wrong of customs and behavior. And so the column preceded – running for 17 years in newspapers across the country.
In response to the enormous popularity of quilting in the early- to mid-twentieth century, LaGanke added “Nancy Page’s Tuesday Quilt Club” to her daily columns. Each week a new quilt block pattern was printed. From the late 1920s to the early 1940s, LaGanke’s quilt patterns were published. Some were original to her, others were reprints of traditional quilt blocking, but all were used to spread knowledge of quilting to the general public. Along with single quilt blocks and non-quilt projects, LaGanke published twenty one quilt series, from “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” in 1928-1929 to “Hearts and Flowers” in 1938. Many of her patterns are still popular in quilting books.
In 1930-31 LaGanke became Chairman of the Home Economics in Business section of the American Home Economics Association.
In 1931 LaGanke was Director of Women’s Activities of the Building Arts Exhibit in Cleveland and hostess of “The Home in the Sky,” a two-story house on the eighteenth floor of the Builder’s Exchange building in Cleveland. An article in the Detroit Free Press, “‘Nancy Page’ Visits Detroit,” 25 June 1931, says the house had six rooms – two up and two down, with a recreation room in the “basement,” and real trees and flowers but artificial turf. LaGanke did a weekly radio show from the exhibit on etiquette, menu planning, and curtain making. Three hundred thousand visitors toured the exhibition.
In 1933, LaGanke founded the Downtown Garden Club with the members of her sewing group. The group met monthly in the HIGBEE CO. lounge. In 1958 the Club had 80 active members.
LaGanke authored a multitude of books, many of which were reprinted numerous times. See list below for a sample of her works.
LaGanke continued writing into her 70s even as her sight faded, and she had to taxi to work. She died on 27 Feb. 1972 in a long-term care facility in Cleveland Heights.
LaGanke Harris is buried with her husband, Paul Harris (1872-1947), in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. The couple had no children.
Selected LaGanke Publications
|Publication Date||Title||Additional Information|
|1928||The Perfect Hostess|
|1929||Patty Pans: A Cook Book for Beginners|
|1936||Everywoman's Complete Guide to Homemaking|
|1939||Flavor's the Thing, Savory Recipes from "Round the World"||reissued in 1946 as Cooking with a Foreign Flavor. 5 editions|
|1940||Pies a-Plenty||6 editions|
|1941||Let's Study Food||co-authored with Ruth Adele Henderson. 4 editions|
|1942||Careers in Home Economics|
|1942||Food 'n' Fun for the Invalid||co-authored with Dorothy A. Ridley|
|1943||Victory Vitamin Cook Book for Wartime Meals|
|1944||400 Salads||co-authored with Florence A. Cowles|
|1945||The New Home Economics Omnibus||updated from 1938. 4 editions|
|1948||Thank You, Mrs. Chips||a companion booklet to a National Potato Chip Institute movie, "Thank You, Mr. Chips"|
|1952||Vegetable Cookery||3 editions|
|1952||The Making of Potato Chips||for the National Potato Chip Institute|
|1953||Young Folks at Home: Home Economics for Junior High School||co-authored with Treva E. Kauffman|
|1964||Your Foods Book||co-authored with Rex Todd Withers. 11 editions|