Friday, September 24, 2010

Where Can I Find Community Cookbooks?

As with any new resource that you want to research for clues to your family history, the most important question is where to find that resource. Currently, community cookbooks are a little different than the majority of genealogical resources we typically use. They are not indexed in a database. They are not available on a subscription site. And because they are largely self-published, they are not part of  all library collections. So what's a researcher to do?

Well, that's when it's necessary to not mull over where they aren't but where they are. So start with considering the possibility that they are a home source. Does any family member have a community cookbook that might have recipes from family members? We often don't ask to see books that family members own, so it's not a source that those providing you with information would think of.  So ask.

Check out library catalogs.  There are some collections of community cookbooks housed in various libraries throughout the United States. A good example is the Los Angeles Public Library which has a large collection of cookbooks, including community cookbooks, going back to California's  first community cookbooks. There are a few places to find cookbooks online. I will be puttting together a list of these libraries and websites and adding it to the right hand side of the blog for reference.  Look for that being posted sometime next week.

I firmly believe that genealogy is everywhere. Use ebay to search for community cookbooks that are for sale. You can also save your searches so that ebay continues searching for those keywords and alerts you when they are found. I searched on ebay and found hits for searches on "charity cookbooks" "community cookbooks" "church cookbook", searching by the name of a religion and the word cookbook and searching on a city and the word cookbook.

I know it's much easier to go for the information that is easily found on a genealogy subscription site.  And there is no doubt that that is a great start to your research. But as you fill in the details to your female ancestor's life, consider taking extra time to hunt down community cookbooks that recreate a time and a place that your ancestor was part of.