Cocktail History in America: About the History of Food & Drink materials

The guide includes information about materials in the History of Food & Drink Collection relating to cocktail history in America and related food, social, domestic, and economic history. It also has tools and resources for completing historical research.

The History of Food & Drink Collecting Area

This section includes general information about the larger History of Food and Drink collecting area. Keep in mind that there may be resources beyond those listed in the guide specific to your research. We encourage you to explore different aspects of the History of Food and Drink collecting area as part of your research. If you need help, have questions, or would like more details, please contact Special Collections (our general information is on the box on the bottom left or you can contact our in-house food history fanatic, archivist Kira Dietz). 

About Special Collections

New Theatre (the Lyric) and Store Building for the Blacksburg Realty Company
New Theatre (the Lyric) and Store Building for the Blacksburg Realty Company

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Monday-Friday 8am-5pm & By Appointment

Contact us:
Email: specref@vt.edu
Telephone: 540-231-6308

Twitter: @VT_SCUA
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About the History of Food & Drink Materials at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech University Libraries is home to a History of Food & Drink collecting area of more than 4,600 books and publications, as well as more than 75 manuscript collections. The majority of this collection is housed in Special Collections. The History of Food & Drink materials consist of several named subsets and a variety of other collecting areas. Specific subsets include:

  • The Peacock-Harper Culinary Collection began with a donation of more than 500 books given to Special Collections in 2000. This group of materials contains two private cookbook collections and you can read more about its history online
  • The Ann Hertzler Children's Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection includes more than 500 cookbooks for children, books about feeding and raising children and families, and storybooks which feature food in some way. You can read more about its history on a related resource guide
  • The History of the American Cocktail Collection houses more than 100 books and manuscript collections that document the role of cocktails and entertaining in American history, as well as the social history and culture that have evolved along side. You can find suggestions and help for researching cocktail history on the resource guide.
  • The Food Technology & Production Collection consists books and manuscripts relating to the "life cycle" of food. This subset includes materials documenting aspects of the history, as it relates to food, of farming and agriculture, marketing and advertising, transportation, technology in the home and kitchen, and changes of products over time. A resource guide about this collection is forthcoming. 

More broadly speaking, in addition to sharing 350 years of recipes and cookbooks, the History of Food & Drink collecting area also helps document early American cookery, southern cookery, social history, household management, home remedies, domestic economy/economy history, dietetics/nutrition, customs and eating habits, food processing/preservation, and eating/cooking in wartime. You can read more about the History of Food & Drink materials on our website. 

Manuscript Collections @Virginia Tech

We have more than 75 manuscript collections in our History of Food & Drink collecting area. Manuscript collections are made up of a variety of primary and secondary source materials, including handwritten recipe books, faculty papers, pamphlets and ephemera, and corporate advertisements. You can browse the list of collections online

You can also search our finding aids directly by visiting the Virginia Heritage website: http://vaheritage.org/. You'll want to limit the repository to "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University." To bring up a list of all our culinary-related collections, search "history of food and drink." Or, you can search on specific terms like "recipe" or "cocktail." 

We are beginning to digitize food-related manuscripts or items from manuscript collections and will continue to do so in the future. Digitized manuscripts are available online.

Books & Publications @Virginia Tech

In Print

The History of Food & Drink collecting area has more than 4,600 publications. Books, relevant theses and dissertations, pamphlets, extension publications, and other printed materials can be searched through the library catalog, Addison, or through the discovery system, Summon.  

About 2/3 of the book collection is located in Special Collections and can be accessed through the Special Collections Reading Room, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm or by appointment (please contact us to arrange appointments). The remaining 1/3 of the book collection is housed in Newman Library or in the library storage facility and is available to be checked out. 

Online

Over 200 books from the History of Food & Drink materials, primarily 19th century cookbooks, household management guides, and nutrition guides, are available in digital form (pdf). The university's institutional repository, VTechWorks, also includes more than 3,000 Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) publications in digital form. 

A Brief Visual Tour of the Collection

This slideshow is from a 2012 presentation to library staff about the History of Food & Drink materials. It contains images from a wide range of publications and manuscripts. Although it is not comprehensive, it is a nice cross-section of the kinds of materials we have available for you.