Time Traveling with Cookbooks

Time Traveling with Cookbooks

Food & Drink

Time Traveling with Cookbooks


You can really get a taste of America’s cultural history by flipping through the dog-eared pages of cookbooks published many decades ago, and now you have an opportunity to do that.

The Michigan State University Museum is currently spotlighting the evolution of America’s dining habits through a collection of cookbooks that illuminate our cultural heritage. The collection, “Feeding America: the Historic American Cookbook Project,” offers a treasure trove of information, insights, and of course, recipes that provide a glimpse into America’s attitude toward food and agriculture over the past 200+ years.

The cookbooks date back as far as 1798, and contain descriptions and measurements that many of us won’t even recognize.

The museum collection illustrates the United States’ long history of frugality, simplicity and appetite for healthy, delicious food. Perusing the volumes, you get a real feel for the diverse influences that gave shape to American cuisine, from post-Civil War era Southern style recipes to New England dishes dating back to the late eighteenth century.

You’ll discover recipes for everything from artichokes, asparagus and broccoli, to eggplant, turnips, and tomatoes, and everything in between.

MSU’s Feeding America project includes an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library’s collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions. This site also features a glossary of cookery terms and multidimensional images of antique cooking implements from the collections of the MSU Museum.

The Feeding America online collection highlights an important part of America’s cultural heritage for teachers, students, researchers investigating American social history, professional chefs, and lifelong learners of all ages…and, really, anyone wanting to explore the attitudes Americans have brought to the dinner table for the last two centuries.

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