Skip to main content

Historic Cookbook Collections: Welcome

“Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.” -- Carlo Petrini



Interdisciplinary in nature, the history of food is a subject well suited to research using the Library’s extensive collections of cookery books, scholarly works, and bibliographies on food history. Researchers also often consult additional sources and primary materials including wartime food manuals, serials of all types, travelers’ memoirs, letters and diaries, advertising, exposition guides, and manufacturers’ pamphlets. This guide, a revision of Library of Congress Science Tracer Bullet 04-1, focuses on works on food history.

The intent is to assist researchers in identifying resources and trends in food history studies, through a broad sampling of writings and bibliographies. Rather than being a comprehensive listing, the titles listed here are intended to give an idea of the breadth of information available, with the focus being on works published in English, during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, and mainly in the United States, though other time periods and areas have occasionally been included. Not intended to be a comprehensive bibliography, this guide is designed--as the name of the series implies--to put the reader “on target.”

Julia Child on First Cookbooks (via the Library of Congress)

About the Collections Listed in this Guide

We have explored libraries, archives, museums, and government pages to bring you some excellent resources that pertain to historic cookbook and culinary collections. We have organized this guide by type of collection.

First, we compiled some of the best fully digitized historic cookbooks. These cookbooks are fully accessible through the Internet.

Next, we compiled a list of digitized culinary collections. Many of these collections include cookbooks as well as materials such as agricultural and home economic texts that relate to the culinary arts.

Last, we compiled a list of undigitized cookbook collections. These collections are rich in cookbook and culinary materials, but have yet to be digitized. Many of these institutions, however, provide digital listings of all the items in their collection.

The Making of America

Not a culinary site, but a large number of 19th century American journals can be accessed, many of which have articles of interest to culinary historians, such as an 1894 review of Charles Ranhofer’s The Epicurean. Searchable database. Open access to these works

A food history story and recipe every weekday of the year!

Loading ...

Director of Library Services

Anthony Viola's picture
Anthony Viola
(617) 730-7255