After cataloging a batch of community cookbooks several weeks ago, I immediately started to come up with ideas on how to feature them on our blog. Instead of just discussing the recipes on the page, or uncovering the histories of the organizations responsible for compiling the works themselves, however, I wanted to approach cookbooks in our collection differently than what’s been done before on the blog. This time, I wanted to use the books the way they were meant to be used. I decided to make the food instead of just reading recipes off the page, to show results instead of discussing recipes as I came across them, and most importantly, include my fellow librarians in my plan. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that I didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm too hard at the mention of a dinner party. The fact that we got to try out recipes from books in our collection was the special bonus once we were finally able to formalize a date for the event.
"Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen" by Franz Eugen Köhler via Wikimedia Commons | See The Useful Lemon below
Up until the early twentieth century, it was common for American women to keep a personal, hand-written cookbook. It might have been a new leather-bound book she received as a wedding present, or it might have been a worn book passed down from a relative already containing all the recipes that individual had gathered. The Phillips Library contains a small collection of these manuscript cookbooks dating from about 1809 to 1918. Read more
We have now been open at our new temporary location for a little over one month, and the Reading Room has had a number of visitors from around the country and around the world. As a new member of the reference staff I am excited to have the opportunity to learn about the Phillips Library collections both through our researchers and the other staff members. After much discussion with the reference staff it was decided that an exhibit would be a nice addition to our new space.