Cover of a cookbook compiled by Marie Wanee Schuster“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
As I recreate the stories of my ancestors I often wonder how they approached the topic of food. Did they have favorite family recipes? Did they eat simply or did they create complicated concoctions? And for those who were pioneers, I sometimes wonder how they found any food at all.
Many are lucky to have recipes passed down through the generations. These small cards and books can tell us a lot about our ancestors, how they lived, and what ingredients they had at their disposal. They can even shed light on their economic status.
Indianapolis is lucky to have a collection of historic recipe books at our fingertips. The Service Through Sponge Cake collection, a collaboration between IUPUI’s University Library and Indianapolis Public Library, offers access to a large collection of cookbooks. The best part about the collection is that it is fully searchable. That means that you can type in your ancestor’s name and discover if they have submitted a recipe to be included in any of the books. How amazing would it be to find and recreate a recipe that was once-loved by a member of your family!
So go, search, and see if you can discover a small glimpse of your family’s history through food!