Skip to main content

Community Cookbook Collection: Home

This guide provides information about the community cookbooks housed in the JWU Harborside Campus Library. You will also find resources for more information about community cookbook collection nationwide and scholarly research about community cookbooks.

This libguide was originally created by Jenny Castel, graduate student in the MLIS program at URI GSLIS, summer semester, 2017. The libguide meets the requirements of the PFE.

Featured Community Cookbooks

"Fiesta Fare" Mexican, Spanish, and Southwestern Recipes (Albuquerque, NM)

A 1956 community cookbook compiled by the Gourmets of San Felipe De Neri to commemorate "Albuquerque's 250th Anniversary." 

Of Cabbages and Kings (Cambridge, MA)

Of Cabbages and Kings, compiled by the Society of Harvard Dames (1956), offers international recipes and is purposely not meant to raise money but to "bring good and interesting eating to all who explore our tome..."

Block Island Cookbook (Block Island, RI)

This first edition of the much loved Block Island Cookbook (1962) offers an insider's view of culture, culinary tradition, and everyday life of a local community in the mid twentieth century (along with fascinating recipes for catching and cooking a mud turtle, cooking a fresh lobster the "Block Island way" and ten pages of recipes for canning and pickling).

"Win the War" Cook Book (St. Louis, MO)

One of the earliest community cookbooks in the collection (others are housed at the JWU Culinary Museum), published in 1918, the "Win the War" Cookbook, compiled by Reah Jeannette Lynch and the St. Louis County Unit, Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, provides recipes and tips for families during war time. 

Cape Cod Kitchen Secrets (Yarmouth, MA)

The 1946 Cape Cod Kitchen Secrets, compiled by the Yarmouth Branch of the Cape Cod Hospital Association was intended to raise money for the hospital as well as to "be a help to those who are new to the kitchen- brides, business girls, and the many women who are learning to get along without a cook." 

About Community Cookbooks

Community cookbooks are compiled by a group or organization in order to raise money and sometimes to share collective and collected knowledge within a group or to a wider audience. The recipes are collected from the members of the organization (such as a PTA, church group, Junior League, etc.), may or may not include the name of the person or family that submitted the recipe, and there is often a preface or forward in which a prominent member writes about the community, the event or the need to raise funds.

The books are usually locally published and printed, and more often than not, bound with plastic rings or in paperback. Some cookbooks are handwritten, while others are published by professional publishing houses and include boilerplate covers with pages such as “substitutions,” kitchen or home making tips or shortcuts, and the like. 

Historically, community cookbooks have been created by women and there is some scholarly research about community cookbooks as meaningful historical, cultural, and even literary documents. See Resources for more information.

Community Cookbooks at JWU Harborside Library

Though not an established “special collection” in its own right, there are many community cookbooks in the JWU library holdings dating from the early 20th century to the present day. This libguide features a small selection of these community cookbooks (a bibliography of community cookbook holdings published between 1918 and 1979 and thus, not exhaustive), resources for finding more information, and links to established digital and print community cookbook collections.

  • Peruse the bibliography which provides a list of the community cookbooks housed at JWU Harborside Library published before 1980.
  • You can also go to WorldCat Search for the library’s holdings (as well as holdings available through HELIN).