Beth White lives in Houston and worked for thirty-seven years in the Texas Medical Center Library. She discovered that the most fascinating part of her job was building historical collections. Her day job was collecting bits and pieces of Houston’s medical history for the archive, while the fun after hours was collecting cookbooks to tell the stories of Texas cooks and the communities in which they worked. Growing up in Fort Worth, she remembered Sunday barbecue at Walter Jetton’s and special lunches in the Zodiac Room in Neiman Marcus. She started collecting by gathering a few Fort Worth and Helen Corbitt titles, along with a large number of American cookbooks. Soon Houston and Dallas cookbooks were added. Then she began trying to gather something from each of the 254 Texas counties
Sometime in the late 1980s as the bookshelves were overflowing, Beth realized that she might have the beginnings of a nice collection but it had to be controlled. Since many cookbooks were produced for the 1986 Sesquicentennial, that became her target to try to limit the collection. Then, in 1995, “eBay” began. She, along with many other collectors and librarians, realized its potential for developing significant collections. The ease of access through the internet meant perusing auctions for hundreds of books each day and meant a collection could be built within a decade rather than over a lifetime. When Beth retired in 2010, one of her goals was to disperse the collection. By December of that year, Baylor’s Texas Collection had been chosen to receive the titles.