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.
From Knox Gelatine: Desserts, Salads, Candies and Frozen Dishes, c.1936
New Theatre (the Lyric) and Store Building for the Blacksburg Realty Company
Monday-Friday 8am-5pm & By Appointment
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:
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.
We have about 100 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 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." This site is a statewide portal and may also point you to resources around 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.
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.