24/7 Resources for Your Historical Cooking Needs

Happy Thursday! Not our usual day for features, but loyal archivist/blogger Kira (that’s me!) had been working a short presentation until this morning. To help celebrate Black History Month, Newman Library has been hosting all kinds of events. Today, I gave a talk about African-American influences on American food, especially from the 1820s-1920s. I was in my home library, too, so I got to do a show-and-tell. All that sharing and talking got me thinking about our efforts to make resources available to researchers everywhere. So rather than a single feature item today, how about many?

Back in the days when Special Collections was part another unit the library, the Digital Library and Archives, there were some awesome efforts made to digitize books out of copyright. Around 200 books were scanned and converted to single-file pdfs. The list of books is online here. Topics range from household management and industrial arts to cookbooks and dietetics. They are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s name. If you have a few minutes to browse, I highly recommend it! There are some great surprises. Each item has two links: The first is to the pdf file, which you can read online or save to your computer at home; the second is to the catalog record for the item.

The Michigan State University Libraries is home to a large collection of cookbooks. Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project has more than 10,000 books in the collection and the digital collection has pages from more than 75. You can browse here and read more about the project here.

The Internet Archive has digitized books from several source, conveniently consolidated in one place! From there text page here, try searching for “cooking, american” or culinary keywords. You’ll find all sorts of books.

While there aren’t digital copies of all your favorite culinary history publications, and I’m certainly not advocating giving up your local library, special collection, or archives, sometimes you need a good historic recipe. And sometimes you need it 9pm when we aren’t always here. It never hurts to have a few good resources in your digital recipe box. There are some great online menu projects, too, but that’s a post for another day. 🙂

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