Thursday, November 18, 2010

Community Cookbook Contributors Aren't Always in the Same Community

Typically, when we see a community cookbook, the contributors are those who are somehow a part of the local community.  They all attend the same church, their kids go to the same elementary school or they share a favorite charitable cause.

However, one's community may be more broad than that.  In genealogy there is the concept of cluster research. Cluster research looks beyond the individual and looks at those who had contact with the individual ancestor, like local business people, neighbors, and midwives.  Our ancestor's did not live in a vacuum and because of this those cluster members may have documented your ancestors and their dealings with them.

The same is true for community cookbooks. Although the majority of the contributors have a local common bond, they may include others who share in that bond but are not part of the local group.  A good example is that recently a genealogy society asked me to contribute a recipe to their community cookbook.  While I have never been to that society, they asked because of our common bond as genealogists.  This group is at least 2 hours from where I live and my guess is no one would think to look in this cookbook for my name.

Not all community cookbooks include recipes from those who live elsewhere and in many cases, it may only include a few from the mother or sister of one of the contributors. But  there are other cookbooks that include many recipes from those living elsewhere. Such is the case for a list I was looking at for a Baptist Cook Book, Mount Vernon, Missouri (1895). The list of those contributing recipes was reprinted in the Ozar'Kin Vol. XIX, No. 4 (Winter 1997), available through the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). 

The list of contributors is quite large but below are contributors not living in the state of Missouri.

Miss Hannah Burson- Salineville, Ohio
Miss Lucy A Boucher- Seattle, Kentucky
Miss Fannie Burson- Alliance, Ohio
Mrs. Ruth G. Clark- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. L. J. Cunningham- Oakland City, Indiana
Mrs. V. J. Covell- Box 152, Rock Island, Illinois
Mrs. J. W. Daniels- Van Buren, Arkansas
Mrs. James Gillingham- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. Mattie L. Hardy- Waterville, Kansas
Miss Emilie W. Henrich- Humboldt, Kansas
Mrs. Rose Hetherington- Salinesville, Ohio
Jennie L. Hall, Nobleboro- Maine
Miss Lizzie Long, Atwater- New York
Mrs. Pantha Marbut, Lockport- Illinois
Mrs. R. E. Mason, Rockford- Kansas
Fanny Oliver- Alicel, Oregon
Mrs. Anna E. Richardson- Palatine, West Virginia
Mrs. W. P. Roberts- Loveland, Colorado
Mrs. May Roe- Alicel, Oregon
E. M. R.- Nobelboro, Maine
Mrs. Jennie Starr- Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Emma Sewell- Coleman, Texas
Mrs. M. Vomberg- Charlotte, Michigan
Mrs. Naomi Young- 816 19th St, San Francisco, California
Mrs. Lizzie Young - Atwater, New York

While it currently may be near impossible to figure out if your ancestress is in a community cookbook for a different location, it is important to be mindful of her associations.  Those associations can yield clues to her life.