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Infant, Child, & Family Nutrition Resources: History of Food & Drink Materials

The guide includes information about in the History of Food & Drink materials relating to the feeding, care, and nutrition of infants, children, and families. It also has tools and resources for completing historical research in these areas.

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 and University Archives (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 and University Archives

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

Monday-Friday 9am-5pm & By Appointment

Contact us:
Telephone: 540-231-6308

Information for Visitors

Find us online!
Our website
Our digital collections
Our blog
Our LibGuide (Information about us and our collections)

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 7,000 books and publications, as well as more than 100 manuscript collections. In November 2020, we also took over management of The Food Timeline and the private book collection of the site's late creator, Lynne Olver. The majority of the food and drink collecting area is housed in Special Collections and University Archives. The history of food & drink materials covers a variety of subjects and topics. Specific subsets of this collecting area include:

  • The Peacock-Harper Culinary Collection began with a donation of more than 500 books given to Special Collections in 1999. 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 200 books and a dozen 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 about 125 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 through ArchivesSpace.

You can also search our finding aids directly by visiting the Archival Resources of the Virginias (ARVAS) website: 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" (alternatively, you can view this list of collections as a live search) Or, you can search on specific terms like "recipe" or "cocktail." This site is two-state portal and may also point you to resources around Virginia and West Virginia. 

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 7,000 publications. Books, relevant theses and dissertations, pamphlets, extension publications, and other printed materials can be searched through the library catalog or through the discovery system.  

About 2/3 of the book collection is located in Special Collections and University Archives and can be accessed through our 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. 


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.