Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome to Food.Family.Ephemera

Some readers may know me as a genealogist. As a genealogist, I am very interested in the records that our female ancestors left behind. Family history researchers often get frustrated by the lack of records for women and the difficulty in researching women. This concern led me to thinking, what records exist that are unique to women? What resources are not necessarily considered genealogy sources but may hold clues to women's lives?

One such record is the diaries/journals of women which hold rich information about the author's life and the lives of the women she knew and wrote about. Midwife's journals provide us a glimpse of the midwife and her work as well as the families she served.

Another source that is like a name's list of women is signature/friendship quilts. These quilts document a place in time and typically an event. Signature quilts are another interest of mine and I will be writing about those in the future. One recent melding of genealogy and quilting is a new blog that a few of us dreamed up Genea-Quilters, where you can post photos and stories of your ancestor's quilts. (Join us on Facebook too).

Finally, what this blog is all about. One of the sources that are part of women's lives are cookbooks. There are different types of cookbooks, some written by food companies, manufacturers, some written by chefs, and a host of others. But it's the community or charity cookbooks that provide information about what women cook and share with their families. Community cookbooks began to be published during the time of the American Civil War. They provide recipes from a group of women and at the very least include their names and affiliation. Sometimes they include much more information that tells us something about their lives.

This blog will explore community cookbooks, what they tell us about women's lives and where you can find them. My research into the topic is going to include presentations to various societies and articles as well as a database of these cookbooks searchable by the individual woman's name (more on this to come). This is an ongoing project that will show the valuable resource that community cookbooks are to genealogists and historians.

So welcome to this blog. I hope it brings to life the great sources left behind by our female ancestors.