Not by Bread Alone: America's Culinary Heritage

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Food and eating habits are a compelling tool for examining culture. Culinary histories illuminate national and ethnic identities and evolving gender roles, thereby shedding light on shifting social boundaries, changing patterns of family life, and national aspirations and values. The food habits of European colonists and Western homesteaders, for example, testified to the difficult and often primitive conditions of rural and frontier life. By contrast, at the end of the 19th century, America’s expanding economy and growing upper class fueled desires for elegance and self-indulgence with respect to food. By the early 1900s, labor-saving kitchen devices created more leisure time, allowing for a greater enjoyment of food as entertainment. In the mid-20th century, revolutions in agriculture and food technology transformed eating into big business, separating most Americans from food production entirely.

The exhibition presents items selected from Cornell Library’s growing collection of rare books and manuscripts devoted to food history–works that uncover some of our forgotten domestic practices, as well as the cooking and eating experiences of earlier generations.

Katherine Reagan

continue to Early Cookbooks

early cookbooks
american taste
the elegant table
temperance and prohibition
food nutrition and science
corpulency, leanes, and dietary reform
kitchen technology
food processing and manufacture


Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library

Copyright 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524

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