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History of Food & Drink Collection Blog!

Special Collections is pleased to announce a new blog highlighting the Culinary History Collection. Each week, "What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!" will feature images and historical (hopefully entertaining, too) information about an item in the collection. Bonus posts throughout the week may include quotes, new acquisitions, links, and notes about culinary-related events. We encourage you to ask a question, post a comment, or just visit us to browse and learn a little more about our History of Food & Drink Collection.

History of Food & Drink Collection

logo for Culiary thymes newsletter

The Virginia Culinary Thymes newsletter promotes the Culinary History Collection at Virginia Tech and the growing interest in culinary history and food culture.

Out of the initial donation in fall 1999 that resulted in the establishment of the Peacock-Harper Culinary Collection, came the first of many donations to University Libraries and its Special Collections. The History of Food & Drink Collection brings to the public over three centuries of historical information about the domestic sciences, including customs, eating behaviors, food choices and habits, social and economic history, and scientific and technological progress.

"Receipt books" (the old name for recipe books), photographs, curriculum materials, as well as cookbooks, nutrition literature, and social commentary have been donated by many generous individuals. To also see online pictures from this collection, browse or search the VT ImageBase.

To retrieve historical culinary titles from the library's online catalog, Addison, enter the keyword search phrase "culinary collection."

A list of manuscript collections at Special Collections relating to culinary history is available online. These collections can also be found through Addison.

Donations and Donors

In 2006 Ann Hertzler, who was instrumental in bringing the Peacock-Harper Collection to the library, initiated a $100,000 endowed fund to establish and support the "Ann Hertzler Children's Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Archive." This is the first historical children's cookbook collection that also emphasizes nutrition literature. To retrieve historical culinary titles from the Hertzler collection, search Addison using the keyword Hertzler and/or "children's cookbook" and find other library materials on this topic using the subject "cookery--juvenile literature".

VT's Online Rare Books

See digitized books (full-text) in this growing archive of primary and secondary sources of culinary history. They will be word-searchable and also available through Addison.

One-of-a-Kind Digitized Manuscript Recipe Books
  • Book for Receipts (1731) Acc. 2005-126 (PDF 5.4MB, 39 pages)
  • Cooking Recipes (~1940s?) Acc. 2005-126 (PDF 5.4MB, 43 pages)
    My Dear Girlie. I am giving you this little gift, hoping that when this one great event comes in your life, you may be better prepared than I am. You know what they say is the way to a man's heart and I do not want you to lose "the way," for there is nothing like it. Thanking you for doing me this little favor on my wedding day I am lovingly yours. Helena
  • Nancy Figgat Recipe Book (inscribed Oct. 29, 1860) (PDF 5.4MB, 144 pages)
    Ms2000-092, Southwest Virginia Counties Collection
  • Receipts and home remedies (~ 1869) (PDF 3.7MB, 88 pages)
    Ms2000-092, Southwest Virginia Counties Collection
Other Resources

The Bibliography of Virginia-Related Cookbooks, compiled by Cynthia D. Bertelsen in spring 2006, has over 1300 entries. It is available in [PDF 226K] and HTML. In 2009 she compiled Resources for Studying the History of Jamestown and Food in Virginia. A LibGuide featuring a list of culinary history resources at Virginia Tech (theses & dissertations, books, databases, and digital exhibits) and at other institutions (both physical and digital collections) is available online at: http://guides.lib.vt.edu/specialcollections/foodhistory.

Developing the History of Food & Drink Collection

The Culinary Collection continues to grow through gifts as well as purchases enabled by generous donors. We follow on these culinary collection development and related policies, such as

If you have materials that may be appropriate for the library's Culinary History Collection, donations may be made by contacting Special Collections at 540-231-6308, or write to them at Newman Library, Virginia Tech, P.O. Box 90001, Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001.

Jean Robbins chaired the initial Culinary History Collection Advisory Committee. Now known as the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends (PHCF), they sponsor several meetings for the public each year and continue to find resources to develop, preserve, improve access to the History of Food & Drink Collection.

If you have materials that may be appropriate for the library's History of Food and Drink Collection or you would like to financially support the collection, please contact Special Collections at 540-231-6308 or via email. You may also write to: Special Collections, Virginia Tech, P.O. Box 90001, Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001.

For more information on the Peacock-Harper Culinary Friends group and how to join, see their website.

Aaron Purcell, Director, Special Collections
Kira A. Dietz, Acquisitions and Processing Archivist, Special Collections

Send questions or comments to:
University Libraries
Virginia Tech, P.O. Box 90001,
Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001

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URL: http://spec .lib.vt.edu/Culinary/index.html
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