Early American Cookbooks is a carefully curated collection of 1450 cookbooks published in the United States between 1800 and 1920. All of the titles in the collection are in the public domain and are available in full-text on the HathiTrust Digital Library. Browse the titles, read them online, and search through the contents of each book. Search across all 1450 titles to find a particular ingredient, recipe name, or anything else and go directly to the results in the full text.
The history of cookbooks in the United States can tell us not only about food preparation and consumption, but also about the history of American culture. Reading the recipes people used every day shows us how they lived their lives. Most cookbooks were written by and for women, so they are especially important for exploring women’s history. Cookbooks focus on women’s skills in the kitchen, but they also reveal how they saw themselves, their families and their communities. A large collection of cookbooks spanning a wide historical period can illustrate changing attitudes toward diet and nutrition, new ingredients and styles of cooking, homemaking, and the commercialization of food production. Please see the Resources page to learn more about cookbook history.
Most early cookbooks in printed form are accessible only in special collections libraries or private collections. Digitization of library collections has made high-resolution, searchable scans available to the public. Early American Cookbooks is not simply a collection of digital cookbooks which can be viewed one at a time. Keyword searching across all 1450 titles allows exploration of the content of the full collection. In addition, this site offers analysis of the collection using digital humanities tools. Text analysis and data visualization show trends and patterns in the collection which may add to our understanding of early cookbooks and the history of American food. Please see the About page for more information.