Food and Drink in History

From feast to famine, explore over five centuries of primary source material documenting the story of food and drink.

The story of food and drink is a unique lens through which to view social and cultural history. The materials in this collection illustrate the deep links between food and identity, politics, power, gender, race and socio-economic status, as well as charting key issues such as agriculture, nutrition and food production.

Explore a wide range of primary source material including printed and manuscript cookbooks, advertising ephemera, government reports, films and illustrated content – revealing the evolution of food and drink within everyday life and the public sphere. The unique material in this collection has been sourced from across the globe to reflect a wide range of food cultures and traditions, creating an unparalleled research resource.


Module I

  • Early, influential and rare cookbooks from the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan
  • Cookbook collections from the University of California San Diego and Michigan State University, with a focus on Mexican, Latin American, Pacific Rim, Chinese, early Californian, African and Asian cuisines
  • A collection of manuscript cookbooks providing a unique insight into early household recipes and remedies
  • Material from the Chaston Chapman Brewing collection and the Seagram Company Archive explains brewing, winemaking, and the legal issues surrounding alcohol
  • Government papers from the Ministry of Food at The National Archives
  • Papers from the Audrey Richards collection, a pioneering anthropologist, including diaries and correspondence

Module II

  • The Julia Child Papers from the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
  • Material from the Southern California Wine and Wine Industry Collection at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Special Collections and Archives
  • African American cookbooks, offering a window into Creole cookery, soul food, and plantation recipes
  • Films from The British Film Institute (BFI) exploring food in wartime, food production and nutrition
  • Government files from The National Archives, UK covering unrest and food crises caused by the Irish Potato Famine and corn shortages
  • Documents relating to the Field Foundation, which supported organisations promoting civil rights, civil liberties and child welfare during the mid-twentieth century
  • Rare and important cookbooks written by notable authors such as Hannah Glasse, Hannah Woolley and Alexis Soyer

Modules include

Module Summary Date
Module I

Highlights in this module include the cookbook collections from the University of California San Diego and Michigan State University, with a focus on Mexican, Latin American, Pacific Rim, Chinese, early Californian, African and Asian cuisine. Case studies of certain ingredients, meals, food and drink brands, as well as regions, will help to build microhistories and provide in-depth insight and comparative context for the researcher.

Module II

Continuing themes explored in Module I, the content in this second module offers a platform from which to study the historical links between food and identity, politics and power, gender, race and socio-economic status. Sourced from archives including the University of Michigan and the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds, key topics covered include agriculture, sustainability, nutrition, food production, the Californian wine industry, the Irish Potato Famine, wartime rationing, African American cookbooks, and many more.


Key data

Period covered


Source archives

  • British Library
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Special Collections and Archives
  • Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Guildhall Library, London
  • Hagley Museum & Library
  • History of Advertising Trust
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Michigan State University
  • Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
  • Special Collections, University of Leeds
  • State Library of New South Wales
  • The British Film Institute (BFI)
  • The National Archives, UK
  • The New York Academy of Medicine Library
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Michigan
  • Winterthur Library
  • Food technologies
  • Food regulation and adulteration
  • Alcohol production and consumption
  • Storage, packaging and advertising
  • Global and ethnic cuisines
  • Restaurant culture and the professional chef
  • Food rituals, feasting and religion
  • Food and war
  • Gastronomy
  • Food and gender
  • Health, nutrition and diet
  • Printed and manuscript cookbooks from across the globe
  • Government papers
  • Company reports and pamphlets
  • Periodicals
  • Advertisements
  • Marketing reports and research papers
  • Ephemera, including menus, booklets, posters, adverts and leaflets
  • Food-related artefacts including cookie cutters
  • Film
  • Oral histories
  • Food packaging
  • Ken Albala, University of the Pacific
  • Martin Bruegel, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
  • Beth Forrest, Culinary Institute of America
  • Nancy Gagliardi, New York University
  • Ai Hisano, Kyoto University
  • Roger Horowitz, Hagley Museum and Library
  • Beat Kümin, University of Warwick
  • Janice Bluestein Longone, University of Michigan
  • James McCann, Boston University
  • Anne Murcott, SOAS University of London
  • Fabio Parasecoli, New York University
  • Valentina Peveri, The American University of Rome
  • Jeffrey Pilcher, University of Toronto
  • Adele Wessell, Southern Cross University
  • William Woys Weaver, Food Historian
  • Anthropology
  • Communities, Peoples and Nations
  • East Asian Studies
  • Food
  • Gender
  • North American Studies
  • Technology
  • Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology to enable full-text searching of the manuscript cookbook collection
  • Split-screen viewer allowing page-by-page comparison of multiple editions of cookbooks
  • Contextual essays
  • Video interviews
  • Food Through Time case studies
  • Visual gallery
  • A study of the rare Apicius Cookbooks, including a new English translation of the ninth century Latin manuscript


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