Guest Post: Finding Community Cookbook Collections

Note from Missy: Below is a guest post by my friend Gena Philibert-Ortega on using community cookbooks to further your genealogical research. How fun it would be to discover a new-to-you recipe once cooked by an ancestor or relative. Enjoy!

By Gena Philibert-Ortega

(c) 2012 Gary Clark, http://www.PhotoTree.com. From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

During this week of guest posting about food and family history, I’ve mentioned the importance of community cookbooks. In my opinion, community cookbooks are an important source that is overlooked in genealogical research. Researching these cookbooks can yield names, addresses, photos, ethnic origins and family history. In addition to the information about an individual family member you also glean clues about the organization that published the cookbook, their history, local business advertisements and other gems. In one church cookbook where I found a list of those buried in the church cemetery. This type of information can help you recreate your female ancestor’s community.

Community cookbooks like other genealogical documents do have their down side, they can be difficult to find.  Many repositories have not considered them worthy of archiving so to find a collection for your ancestor’s locality can be difficult.

To begin your search, as with any genealogical search, start with the homes of relatives. In some cases they may have a copy of a cookbook that they or another family member contributed to. From there consider checking available bibliographies, archival/library collections, digitized book sites and online auction websites. If you are in the area where your ancestor lived, you can expand your search to local library collections, used bookstores, antique and thrift stores.

Two bibliographies that may assist you are:

Cook, Margaret. America’s Charitable Cooks: A Bibliography of Fund-Raising Cook Books Published in the United States (1861-1915). Kent, Ohio, 1971.

Driver, Elizabeth. Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949. Toronto [Ont.: University of Toronto Press, 2008. I

Collections of community cookbooks can be found in libraries.  I have links to these collections on my blog Food.Family.Epherma.  The following is a list of just a few of these collections:

Los Angeles Public Library

William L Clements Library, University of Michigan

University of Illinois Library

Radcliff Institute, Harvard University, Schlesinger Library

While a library or archive in your ancestor’s locality might hold the promise of a collection of community cookbooks, another place to search is an Internet auction site like eBay.  Community cookbooks are well represented on eBay.  These cookbooks run the gamut of church, school, and organizational books spanning the 19th and 20th century.

When searching on eBay, make sure to try various keywords so that you search can be as comprehensive as possible.  Some search terms to try include “community cookbook” “church cookbooks” or “charity cookbooks” “fundraising cookbooks.” You can also specify a type of cookbook in your search like “Grange Cookbook” or “Methodist Cookbook.” Consider creating an alert for an ancestor’s locality, church, membership organization  or a cookbook search to be notified by eBay when new items come up for sale.

One book that explores community cookbooks is the book, Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories edited by Anne L. Bower.  A preview of this book is available from Google Books.

(c) 2012 Gary Clark, http://www.PhotoTree.com

To read more about community cookbooks, please consult my new book From the Family Kitchen. I also spotlight recipes from community cookbooks weekly on my blog Food.Family.Ephemera

Album Rescue Project: Album 2, Photos 21-24

Any American Pickers (or similar) fans out there? Can you make out or recognize the name on the little toy wagon below?

Photo 21

Anyone recognize this vista?

Photo 22

There’s a hint on the back:

Reverse of Photo 22 “York Haven June 1928″

Whoa, so I just Googled York Haven and found a Wikipedia entry about the area. Only 709 residents in the 2010 census? If it’s always been that small and there’s a connection to this album still living there… Well, the task doesn’t seem so monumental when the number is that small. However, if the town was much bigger in the earlier 20th century and the population then dwindled? Well, the family could be anywhere…

Another scene on the wagon:

Photo 23

Anyone been to Gettysburg lately? Recognize these rocks?

Photo 24

‘Cause they’re apparently in Gettysburg:

Reverse of Photo 24 “3 yrs old in Gettysburg”

I’m beginning to wonder about how this album and its cousin ended up in an Easton antique store. So, if the photo above was taken circa 1928, the babe pictured would be in their late 80s. Perhaps they have passed on and they never had children to whom these photos would mean something. It makes me sad. I do hope I can find a family member who cares enough to keep them. If not, I’m happy enough to keep them myself.

Album Rescue Project: Album 2, Photos 17-20

The next several images feature the progeny (that’s my belief anyway) of our star:

Photo 16

I must say that the above little guy or gal does not look very enthused about the swing.

Photo 17

Okay, I think this is the same baby and given the shoes, I think it’s a girl.

Photo 18

Photo 19

Photo 20

Finally! Our star makes another appearance. If you click on the above photo and enlarge it, you’ll note the child is holding a basket. I wonder if it’s Easter?

Album Rescue Project: Album 2, Photos 13-15

This next post is dedicated to Footnote Maven. I’m so excited to reveal two facts about our star:

Photo 13

She’s wearing glasses! And? I think she’s a mom! That might explain why these photos are lacking captions and codes — she probably didn’t have time to fiddle with that anymore.

Photo 14

I love these photos.

Photo 15

Album Rescue Project: Album 2, Photos 7-12

Here is the next photo from Album 2, featuring our star:

Photo 7

Next, I think we have our star’s friend, who is pictured throughout Album 1, except older. Or perhaps it’s that friend’s mom? I’m guessing that’s mom or grandma on the left:

Photo 8

I don’t recognize the woman in the next photo, but I love the porch and curved sidewalk out front:

Photo 9

Next is a close-up of an object that is better revealed in the subsequent image:

Photo 10

A phonograph!

Photo 11

Not sure what the photographer was trying to capture in the next photo, but I like the rooflines:

Photo 12

Still no notes, codes or captions on these photos, but I think the reason behind this will be revealed in my next post.

Album Rescue Project: Album Two, Photos 1-6

Finally delving into Album Two of the Album Rescue Project. The disappointing thing so far is that the first several pages are devoid of photos — someone removed them at some point. Footnote Maven warned me that antiques dealers often do this because they think they can make more money selling the photos individually than in the albums. I’m not sure if that was the case here, but it makes me wonder who and what were in those photos.

Here is the first photo in Album Two:

Album 2, Photo 1

This photo was glued onto the page, and so I scanned it by flipping my Flip-Pal scanner over onto it. I wasn’t happy with the scan though — there seems to be a lot of reflection off the paper. I’d had some luck removing glued images from pages in Album One and so I took a chance, but disaster happened. The photo was too stuck to the page in one area (the lady’s hat) and it tore. I’m despondent — it’s the first time that’s happened to me. In retrospect, I should have cut the photo, backing and all, out of the page instead. Lesson learned.

The next photo was attached to the page using photo corners and so came up a lot easier.

Album 2, Photo 2

Here we have our star from Album One, so my original hunch that these two albums belonged to the same person or family was correct.

Album 2, Photo 3

This photo was too big for the bed of my Flip-Pal scanner, so I scanned it in two sections and stitched it together using software. Isn’t it a great image? I love the expressions on their faces.

Album 2, Photo 4

Here we have our star and her friend that made many appearances in Album One. Not sure if the gentlemen pictured have appeared before though.

Album 2, Photo 5

Here’s our star again with a couple of gentlemen, one of whom also was in Photo 4. Hmmm… a new beau? It’s definitely not the same guy whom I assumed to be her boyfriend in Album One.

Album 2, Photo 6

And here’s the same gentleman with a helpful date written on the photo. Unfortunately, that’s the only notation written on any of the photos so far.

For those who followed along with Album One, I’ve been making a list of all the codes in Album One (no codes so far in Album Two). Hoping to see some patterns emerge when I study the list more closely.

Album Rescue Project: The End of Album One

Some very cute babies are featured in the final photos of Album 1:

Photo 150

Photo 151

Photo 152

Photo 153

Photo 154

But the album’s star makes a final appearance before we close out the album:

Photo 155

Photo 156

Photo 157

Another mystery location is the final photo in the album:

Photo 158

Next steps:

I still need to try and figure out the codes used in the album. Whether or not this will help me figure out who the album’s owner was is unknown, but it’s something that’s been driving me crazy.

I need to check the 1940 census for the folks that have been identified so far in the album. This could help lead to their descendants.

I need to start scanning the photos in Album Two! This project is far from over!