Food & Drink History Resources @Virginia Tech (and Beyond): Early American Cooking/Cookery (1796-1850)

Special Collections in the University Libraries can help with your food & drink history research, including books, manuscript collections, ephemera & digital items. This LibGuide also includes resources you can find at other institutions.

A Short Introduction

Early American cookery can mean different things. The focus in our collection is on cookbooks published in early America and books that were published elsewhere (often England), but were available in America and had an influence on cookbooks and cooking in this country. Our earliest "published in America" cookbook is from 1798, though we have reprints of some early items. This section primarily contains some cookbooks and manuals from 1796 to 1850 by influential writers of the time, as well as some suggested readings about cooking and food in early America. 

Special Collections

Early American Cookbooks

  • American Cookery, or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Puff-Pastes, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake, Amelia Simmons TX703 .S5 1996 Spec Large
    • This was the first cookbook to be published in America. While it was still heavily influenced by British cooking traditions, it was the first to begin to identify something of an American culinary culture. Our reprint is from 1996, but it recreates the 1796 edition.
  • The American Frugal Housewife: Dedicated to Those Who are Not Ashamed of Economy by Lydia Maria Child TX147 .C53 1844​ Spec Small
  • The Experienced American Housekeeper: or, Domestic Cookery, Formed on Principles of Economy for the Use of Private Families by Eliza Rundell TX715 .R93 1835 Spec Small
  • The Female Economist, or, A Plain System of Cookery: For the Use of Families: Containing Nearly Eight Hundred Valuable Receipts by Mrs. Smith TX717 .S64 Spec Small
  • Five Thousand Receipts in All the Useful and Domestic Arts, Constituting a Complete and Universal Practical Library, and Operative Cyclopaedia by Colin Mackenzie TX153 .M15 1827 Spec Large
  •  The Frugal Housekeeper's Kitchen Companion, or, Guide to Economical Eliza Wheeler TX714 .W48 1850b Spec Small
  • The Frugal Housewife: Dedicated to Those Who are Not Ashamed of Economy by Lydia Maria Child TX147.C536 F94 1830a Spec Small
  • The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Susannah Carter TX705 .C33 1802
    • Originally published in London
  • The House Book: or, a Manual of Domestic Economy for Town and Country by Miss Leslie TX153 .L4 1841 Spec Small
  • The Housekeeper's Book : ... with a Complete Collection of Receipts for Economical Domestic Cookery. The Whole Carefully Prepared for the Use of American Housekeepers, by a lady TX715 .H832 1837 Spec Small
  • The Improved Housewife, or Book of Receipts: with Engravings for Marketing and Carving by a married lady (Mrs. A. L . Webster) TX715 .W383 1847 Spec Small
  • Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt-Book: Designed as a Supplement to Her Treatise on Domestic Economy by Catharine Beecher TX715.B414 M67 1846 Spec Large
  • Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book; and Young Housekeeper's Assistant by Elizazbeth Putnam TX715 .P962 1849 Spec Small
  • The National Cook Book by Hannah Peterson TX715 .P4795 1850 Spec Small
  • New Art of Cookery, According to the Present Practice Richard Briggs TX703 .B7 1798b Spec Small
    • Originally published in London, this is a 2nd American edition.
  • Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats by a lady of Philadelphia (Eliza Leslie) TX765 .L63 1829 Spec Small
  • The Universal Receipt Book: Being a Compendious Repository of Practical Information in Cookery, Preserving, Pickling, Distilling, and All the Branches of Domestic Economy. To Which is Added, Some Advice to Farmers by Priscilla Homespun TX153 .H765 Spec Small
  • The Virginia Housewife; or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph TX715 .R215 1820 Spec Large
    • The Virginia House-Wife is considered to the the first American regional cookbook (in this case, Southern cookery, and more specifically, Virginia). The first edition was published in Arlington in 1824, and it would go through numerous additional printings leading up to the Civil War. In addition, it was reprinted several times in the 20th century. Special Collections has 7 different printings between 1824 and 2013.

Secondary Sources on Early American Cooking & Food

  • Cooking in the Young Republic, 1780-1850 by Patricia B. Miller TX645 .M573 1992 Spec Large
  • The Edible South: the Power of Food and the Making of an American Region by Marcie Cohen Ferris GT2853.U5 F47 2014 Spec Large
  • Food in Colonial and Federal America by Sandra L. Oliver TX714 .O466 2005 Spec Large
  • Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine Updated for Today's Hearth & Cookstove by Nancy Carter Crump TX715 .C9553 2008 Spec Large
  • A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food by Elizabeth S.D. Engelhardt GT2853.U5 E64 2011 Spec Large