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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Cookbooks & Home Economics

American Colony (Jerusalem). Vintage activities at Richon-le-Zion, Aug. 1939. Grape picker, close up study European immigrant girl. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Cookbooks have always contained more than recipes, and many volumes, especially from the nineteenth century, supply advice on topics such as medicines and nursing, laundry methods, house maintenance, and etiquette. The vast majority of such works were meant to inform women, and until the 1960s most cookbooks were written by women. Like travel accounts and literature, the volumes served as another public forum for women's words and thoughts.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The subject heading “Cooking, American” (see below) produces more than five thousand entries in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, and many other related works can be found under terms such as:

[African American women preparing food for canning in metal cans]. Btwn. 1925-1930. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Recipes and domestic advice appeared regularly in publications, particularly in women's magazines. The Library holds complete runs of many women's journals focused on the kitchen and home.

These and other “domestic” focused publications supply information on almost any topic imaginable—prices, nutrition, health concerns, technological advances, women and work, women and war, women's place, male-female relationships, children, in-laws, modesty, cleanliness, religion, sports and recreation, sex, cosmetics, and fashion. “Food and Morals,” “The Effort to Obtain Pure Water,” “Wartime Kitchen Gadgets,” articles on suffrage, and women's rights appear between recipes and fashion stories. Certain issues such as weight, body shape, and “how to please your man” recur again and again over the years.

Subject Headings

Selected Print Resources on Cookbooks

The following titles represent resources which may prove useful in your search for information about cookbooks. Each title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Selected Print Resources on Home Economics

The following titles represent resources which may prove useful in your search for home economics. Each title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

The following is a selected list of external digital collections which provides access to digitized cookbooks and other materials on home economics.

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