Vintage Vittles: A Veritable Wonderland of Local Cookbooks

Written by on January 18, 2014 in Vintage Vittles - No comments
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Welcome to 2014, lovelies! It seems impossible it’s 2014 already (full disclosure: I wrote 2013 on a two different checks this week). As we skyrocket into the future, I want to make sure that we don’t forget the past. For that, we have wonderful people like Historic Indianapolis’ creator Tiffany Benedict-Berkson to thank. Thank you, Tiffany, for your stewardship of this website.

I stumbled upon something most wonderful this week — something, frankly, I can’t believe I didn’t know about until now. I was digging for my next recipe when I found IUPUI’s University Library’s “Service Through Sponge Cake” Collection. The collection, launched in 2010, is a completely digitized gathering of historic community cookbooks. Those of you who read my last column remember my deep love of church community cookbooks.  From the library: 

“The digital collection of cookbooks is a collaborative effort between the University Library and the Indianapolis Public Library and will focus on Indiana cookbooks dating from the turn-of-the-century, with a special emphasis on fundraising cookbooks published by churches, synagogues and other community organizations. The University Library has created the community cookbook collection using unique materials from the Indianapolis Public Library’s collection of historic Indiana cookbooks. The online collection includes digital images of each cookbook in its entirety, plus in-depth descriptions of each item.” 

The collection, which was launched during Spirit and Place’s 2010 programming, is chockfull of all kinds of interesting little finds. I’ve selected a few of my favorites below. Now it’s off to the grocery store!

A few of my favorite discoveries:

Study These Food Groups, from Win the War Cookbook (1918)

Sister Adaway’s Spicy Chicken and Rice, from Celebrating Our Roots (1978, Irvington First Baptist Church)

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Tea Time Tassies, from Broad Ripple Village’s Cookbook (1974)

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Cuban Fried Meat Balls, from The Columbia Club Men’s Cookbook (date unknown)

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How to Plan and Serve Buffet Dinners Successfully, from 200 Years of Black Cookery (1976, Indianapolis Black Bicentennial Committee)

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I encourage you to explore the collection this weekend. May the beginning of 2014 be merry and bright for you! 

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About the Author

Katherine Coplen is a writer and editor working in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the Music Editor for NUVO Newsweekly, where she writes about music 1) made in Indianapolis, 2) released on Indianapolis labels, and 3) touring through Indianapolis. Outside of NUVO, Katherine has been published frequently in The Billfold, HerCampus, The Herald Times, The Ryder, The Southside Times, and Livebuzz. She really, really loves food.

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