Heritage in a Cookbook
by Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian
When the Genealogy Department (Now Special Collections and Local History) was established at the Williamson County Library in 1993, the head of the department envisioned among its holdings a cookbook collection that would preserve women’s names for posterity, which are so hard for genealogy seekers to find in the old records. Ahead of her time, genealogy and local history librarians over the country are now promoting cookbook collections on their web sites, not just for containing women’s names but for representing the heritage of communities, ethnic groups, and individual families. For example, the Minnesota Historical Society Library in St. Paul Minnesota has an excellent web page identifying cookbooks by the type of organizations publishing them. The categories given are Business, Church, Community, Ethnic, Family, and Fundraising/Charitable. The Genealogical and Local History Library of the Hayner Public Library District, Alton, Illinois has a year long display of some of their cookbooks (April 2014-April 2015) pictured and discussed on the web. The latest craze posted on various genealogy web sites is “How To” create family a cookbook, seeking recipes and family stories from older members of one’s family (http://genealogy.about.com; www.genealogyspot.com; www.familytreemagazine.com (Family Tree Magazine Oct 27, 2011). And our Special Collections Departments has many cookbooks falling into the different categories representing the social history of Williamson County and Tennessee.
- (1) Business:
- We’re Cooking, the City of Franklin Employees’ Cookbook, 1998 (including men)
- The Art of Cooking in Franklin by Franklin Business & Professional Women’s Club 1971.
- (2) Church:
- Several 1970’-1990’s, representing Brentwood, Grassland, Triune, Peytonsville, Franklin
- (3) Community:
- Stick a Fork In It by Leipers Fork, 2010;
- South Harpeth Cookbook, no date.
- (4) Ethnic:
- The Heart of the Taste (African American) 2004
- (5) Family;
- Henrietta Bates Family and Friends Cookbook 2007;
- Cucina Mia Present/ Mahowdoya?, 2000,recipies of the DiVito family of Franklin (Italian) ;
- Reid Family Recipes, Allsboro, Alabama, 2009, but with Franklin ties.
- (6) Fundraising:
- A Medley of Grand Ole Recipes by the Brentwood High School Band 1992;
- Several by local elementary schools giving the name of the parents, child and grade the child is in;
- 25th Anniversary Republican Women of Williamson County
The Special Collections Department is currently compiling a data base of the individuals named in our cookbook collection, many of whom, from the earlier books, are now deceased.