Food History Resources

This is a very preliminary list of mostly  primary sources related to food history that can be found online. Much of this list is borrowed from a list compiled by the excellent librarians and archivists at the University of Guelph’s Archival and Special Collections and it, therefore, very much owes its existence to them. If you have any suggestions for sources I missed, please let me know via email or in the comments. The Internet is also constantly changing so if you find any dead links let me know and I’ll fix them as quickly as possible.

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Archives Canada
Bon appétit: a celebration of Canadian Cookbooks
Digitized 19th c. cookbooks

Cornell Univerity Libraries – Special Collections and Nestlé Library
Not by Bread Alone (online exhibition)

Duke University Libraries –Special Collections
Documenting the Politics of Food (online exhibit)

Internet Archive
Historical Cookbooks Collection

Iowa State University
3,000 cookbooks primarily published in Iowa from the 19th-20th c. and 100 historical American cookbooks from the 18th-19th c..

Kansas State University – Rare Books
Cookery Collection
What’s Cooking? (online exhibit)

McGill University Libraries – Special Collections
Cookbook Collections
1,700 Canadian, American and British cookbooks and related materials from 18th – 20th c Strong collection of community cookbooks from Quebec.

Michigan State University Libraries – Archives
Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project
76 influential and important American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century

New York Public Library
Culinary Collections
International in scope with holdings of 16,000 cookbooks and 25,000 menus.

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Sitting Julia (online exhibit for Julia Child 100th anniversary)
Julia Child’s Papers

Rutgers University Library
Sinclair Jerseyana Cookbooks
New Jersey cookbooks from the 19th and 20th c. (mostly post- WWII)

Tulane University Library
Culinary Collection
Over 2,000 cookbooks and works on the culinary arts from the mid 19th century to the present

University of Guelph Library – Archival & Special Collections
Cookbook Collection
Over 13,000 cookbooks and works on the culinary arts from the 17th – 20th century. Strong collection of community cookbooks and Canadian cookbooks. Holdings prior to WWI are international in scope and contain important historical cookbooks. Collection also includes some manuscript cookbooks.

University of Iowa Libraries – Special Collections
The Szathmary Culinary Archives

University of Pennsylvania
Esther B. Aresty Collection of Rare Books in the Culinary Arts
International collection dating from the 15th – 20th c.; 576 cookbooks and 13 manuscripts. Household Words (online exhibit)

Virginia Tech Libraries – Special Collections
Culinary History Collection


  1. Martin

    Dear Ian,

    My name is Martin Ciglenecki and I am first year MA student at McGill University. I am currently enrolled in the History of Medicine program and my research interests are in the history of nutrition and the professionalization of dietetics in Canada.

    I’d like to begin by congratulating you on all of your professional success and would like to thank you for compiling such a wonderful website. I was introduced to your work through Professor Elsbeth Heaman from the faculty of History at McGill and actually came across your name in a piece published by the CBC about the politics of Canada’s nutrition guide. I think you’re doing some ground breaking work and wish you all the best as you move forward.

    As I begin to narrow my focus in research, I was wondering whether you had any friendly suggestions as to availability of sources or conceptual direction. Much like you, I am interested in nutrition history however, I want to approach it from a slightly different angle. I wish to look at nutrition and more specifically, nutrition science and dietetics, under the lens of scientific authority, medicalization and public health. Originally, I wanted to look at the Macdonald College in Montreal and see how nutrition moved from the domain of Household Science and Home Economics, to its own degree specialization. Upon further consideration of available sources, and Quebec privacy laws, I decided that I would like to head in the direction of studying the Canadian Dietetics Association.

    From the preliminary searches I have already conducted, McGill’s library does not have much information on the assoc. by way of primary source material. I did find that the University of Manitoba has archival information of the assoc. from 1953 until 1987. Additionally, I have requested a copy of “Canadian Dieticians : Making a Difference, Rejoice in the Past, Reflect for the Future” and hope that it may point me in the right direction, in terms of sources etc. I would love to get your take on the project and look forward to hearing from you. I appreciate your time and consideration, and look forward to hearing back from you soon. Take care.

    Kind Regards,
    Martin Ciglenecki

  2. Bernadette

    Interesting topic Martin, I did my Dietetics degree at Macdonald. I’m sure there are some retired Dietitians around who could give you perspective on that move, probably perspectives that you wont find published anywhere!!

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