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Community Cookbooks: An Online Collection

Cookbooks by Place

Howard R. Hollem, photographer. Brooklyn, New York. The ladies aid community kitchen at the Church of the Good Shepherd. 1944. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

These books are sorted into the very simplest of regional divisions: Midwestern States, Northeastern States, Southern States and Western States. They often reflect regional differences in what people cooked and ate—cranberries, for example, in New England, prairie chickens in the Midwest, and barbecue in the South. At the same time—as railroads brought people west, tied towns together, and moved goods—cooking (and recipes) evolved. Oysters from Maryland were shipped in refrigerated cars to the mountain states and beef was shipped to cities on the East Coast from Chicago, while bananas, pineapple and coconuts became widely available in most places.

Travel, and the numerous fairs and expositions of the time, also played an influential part in adding new foods to the culinary repertoire of the authors of these cookbooks. After it was introduced to the crowds at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, recipes for chili con carne began to appear in community cookbooks from small towns and big cities all over the country. Recipes for sauerbraten came to Chicago from Germany, New England clam chowder showed up in Portland, Oregon, and hot tamales followed the tamale trail into Alabama, complicating regional distinctions in cooking.

The citations in this guide include links to fuller bibliographic information in theLibrary of Congress online catalog as well as links to full-text digital content.