History of Food & Drink
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. Collecting in the area of the history of food and drink brings to the public over three centuries of historical information about the domestic sciences, including recipes, customs, eating behaviors, food choices and habits, social, domestic, and economic history, children's nutrition and literature, cocktail history, and food technology and production.You can read more of our collection development policy online.
Since 2000, Special Collections has received donations of or purchased "receipt books" (the old name for recipe books), photographs, curriculum materials, as well as cookbooks, nutrition literature, and social/domestic/economic commentary To see digitized pictures associated with the collection, browse or search the VT ImageBase.Searching Book and Manuscript Materials
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.
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." To find other library materials on this topic using the subject "cookery--juvenile literature".VT's Online Rare Books Digitized Manuscript Recipe Books
- Book for Receipts (1731) Ms2008-024 (PDF 5.4MB, 39 pages)
- Cooking Recipes (~1940s?) Ms2008-023 (PDF 5.4MB, 43 pages)
- Nancy Figgat Recipe Book (inscribed Oct. 29, 1860) Ms2000-092, Southwest Virginia Counties Collection (PDF 5.4MB, 144 pages)
- Receipts and home remedies (~ 1869) Ms2000-092, Southwest Virginia Counties Collection (PDF 3.7MB, 88 pages)
Developing the History of Food & Drink
- 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.
- The staff at Special Collections has created several guides for locating resources at Virginia Tech and elsewhere that relate directly to aspects of food and foodways. These include:
- Resources relating to culinary history, food, and foodways 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.
- Resources relating to infant, child, and family nutrition at Virginia Tech and at other institutions is available online at: http://guides.lib.vt.edu/specialcollections/childrensnutrition.
- Resources relating to cocktail history in America and abroad at Virginia Tech and at other institutions is available online at: http://guides.lib.vt.edu/specialcollections/cocktailhistory.
The culinary collection continues to grow through gifts as well as purchases enabled by generous donors. We follow on this culinary collection development policy. You can also see a list of past donations and donors online.
If you have materials that may be appropriate for the library's 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, University Libraries (0434)
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
About the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends Advisory Committee
Jean Robbins chaired the initial Culinary History Collection Advisory Committee. Now known as the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends Advisory Committee, they sponsor several meetings for the public each year and continue to find resources to develop, preserve, improve access to the collection.
For more information on the Peacock-Harper Culinary Friends Advisory Committee, see their Facebook page.
Aaron Purcell, Director, Special Collections
Kira A. Dietz, Acquisitions and Processing Archivist, Special Collections