Cover Art for
Cookery for Beginners
by Marion Harland
(Boston, 1884)

Cookbooks and Culinary Studies

Food, drink, and eating – the preparation, presentation, and sharing of meals – are at the heart of human culture. The Chapin Library supports the study of this important aspect of civilization with holdings from the 15th to the 20th centuries. These include more than 500 American cookbooks from the collection of Eleanor T. Fordyce (mother of Robert P. Fordyce, Williams Class of 1956), important rare titles of French gastronomy acquired with the support of Bruce Healy, Class of 1968, and his wife Alice, works on the virtues of honey in the Duane W. and Leeta L. Bailey library of books on bees and beekeeping, and other volumes and broadsides concerned with food in nature. Many of the cookbooks in the Chapin Library in fact are more than collections of recipes: they also contain advice for treating illness and preserving health, directions for table and social etiquette, hints for domestic maintenance, and information about farming and husbandry. As such, they are sources for research in social history, medicine, and agriculture as well as guides to cookery.

An essay by Robert Volz on the Chapin Library’s culinary holdings and an article by Professor Darra Goldstein on the Library’s acquisition of Physiologie du goût, ou, Méditations de gastronomie transcendante by Brillat-Savarin are also available on this site.

Selected Reference Sources in the Chapin Library

Gastronomic Bibliography by Katherine Golden Bitting. San Francisco: [s.n.], 1939.

Bibliography of American Cookery Books, 1742–1860 by Eleanor Lowenstein. 3rd ed. Worcester [Mass.]: American Antiquarian Society; New York: Corner Book Shop, 1972.

A Short-Title Catalogue of Household and Cookery Books Published in the English Tongue, 1701–1800 by Virginia Maclean. London: Prospect Books; [Charlottesville, Va.]: Distributed by the University Press of Virginia, 1981.

Culinary Americana: Cookbooks Published in the Cities and Towns of the United States of America during the Years from 1860 through 1960 by Eleanor and Bob Brown. Staten Island, N.Y.: Maurizio Martino, [199-?].

English Cookery Books to the Year 1850 by Arnold Whitaker Oxford. Staten Island, N.Y.: Maurizio Martino, [1997].

American Books on Food and Drink: A Bibliographical Catalog of the Cookbook Collection Housed in the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana by William R. Cagle and Lisa Killion Stafford. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 1998.

Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825–1949 by Elizabeth Driver. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Printed Cookbooks in Europe, 1470–1700: A Bibliography of Early Modern Culinary Literature by Henry Notaker. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press; Houten, Netherlands: Hes & De Graf Publishers, 2010.


This collection is available for use in the Archives/Chapin reading room in Sawyer Library, Room 441.

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This page was last updated on 16 September 2014