Baylor's Texas Collection Features Cookbooks As 'Historical Documents'

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"Dash of Recipes, Pinch of History" will be featured at The Texas Collection through May 31, 2009. The main display case highlights the variety of cookbooks found in the collection, including cultural, religious and organizational cookbooks.
Feb. 20, 2009

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

The Texas Collection at Baylor University's Carroll Library will feature a special lecture on "Texas Women's Kitchens, Texas Women's Words: Cookbooks as Historical Documents" at 3 p.m. Monday, March 2, in conjunction with a special exhibit on the archive's collection of Texas cookbooks.

The exhibition - "Dash of Recipes, Pinch of History" - will be featured at The Texas Collection through May 31, 2009. The main display case highlights the variety of cookbooks found in the collection, including cultural, religious and organizational cookbooks. A second display case features late 19th and early 20th century company advertisements for various kitchen-related items.

Two additional displays are located in the Reading Room. One exhibit contains photographs of Texas cooks preparing food in a variety of methods and settings. The other display features enlarged, framed images of unique cookbook covers and select inside pages.

The March 2 lecture will be presented by Dr. Rebecca Sharpless, assistant professor of history at Texas Christian University, in The Texas Collection Reading Room. With The Texas Collection housing a growing collection of nearly 1,000 Texas cookbooks, Sharpless said the archive joins some of the most prestigious libraries in the world.

"The Schlesinger Library at Harvard, the New York Public Library and even the Library of Congress have extensive cookbook collections and recognize their value as historical documents," Sharpless said. "There are so many things you can learn about women's lives from reading a cookbook."

While other institutions focus on cookbooks from all over the nation, The Texas Collection focuses on cookbooks exclusively from Texas.

"We have an incredible diversity of cookbooks from a wide variety of denominations, civic groups, public schools, universities, women's groups and cultural group," said library associate Amie Oliver. "Some of these go back to the 19th century, making them actual history and not just cooking."

One such historic cookbook was published in Waco in 1888. The St. Paul's Episcopal Church cookbook was one of the first cookbooks ever published in the state of Texas.

"There are several from St. Paul's from between 1888 until 1949," Sharpless said. "You can really see how things changed over that period of time in the lives of women."

The lecture and exhibit are free and open to the public. The Texas Collection is located in the Carroll Library Building, Room 101.

For more information, please contact Kathy Hinton at (254) 710-1269.

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