Food, Wine & Culinary History

Food advertisement.
From Cornell Library's food advertising collections.

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections offers outstanding research materials on the history of food, wine, gastronomy, and restaurants. Prominent among Cornell's food history collections are: an assemblage of more than 3,000 rare cookery books from the 15th century to the present; The Eastern Wine and Grape Archive, dedicated to preserving the history of the wine industry East of the Mississippi; and a collection of more than 10,000 international restaurant menus from the 1850s to the present.

Other materials relevant to the study of food history include: early hand-written recipe books; 18th century French pamphlets on food supply and distribution published during the Revolutionary period; and sales catalogs promoting food, kitchen equipment, and cooking utensils. Substantial archival collections on agriculture, nutrition, food science, and home economics provide additional resources for the study of food and food-ways.

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections also features significant materials on the history of wine and alcoholic beverages. In addition to materials in the Eastern Wine and Grape Archive, RMC offers several hundred rare books and manuscripts on the moral, economic and physical consequences of alcohol consumption dating from the 17th century to the present; rare books on wine making methods dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries; the papers and publications of American temperance societies and reformers; and materials documenting cocktail culture from the prohibition period onwards.

Other Cornell Resources on Food and Wine:

  • “Song of the Vine: A History of Wine” celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Eastern Wine and Grape Archive (EWGA) with an exhibition devoted to the story of wine making.
  • The online version of the exhibition "Not by Bread Alone: America's Culinary Heritage" (Cornell University Library: Ithaca, NY, 2002) features highlights from Cornell's rare collections on food and wine.
  • The Nestlé Library of Cornell's School of Hotel Administration holds a large collection of recently published books on food and wine.
  • Cornell's Frank A. Lee Library, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, New York, features an extensive book collection on the history of grape growing and wine production.
  • Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library has extensive book collections on agriculture, food science, and nutrition.
  • Cornell's HEARTH collection: a full-text electronic collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines published between 1850 and 1950. Developed by Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library.
  • The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections' Award Winning Exhibition on the history of home economics is available online: "From Domesticity to Modernity: What Was Home Economics?"