Nature and Scope

From feast to famine, explore five centuries of primary source material documenting the story of food and drink.

Culinary menu. Image © The University of Michigan Library


This resource aims to represent a range of key food and drink history stories from the evolution of food within everyday life to haute cuisine, charting key issues around agriculture and food production, and looking into advertising histories of key food and drink brands. The materials in this collection illustrate the deep links between food and identity, politics, power, gender, race, and socio-economic status.

Talking food and drink in history: watch interviews and cooking demonstrations in our video interview feature to learn more. 


Explore a wide range of primary source material, including printed and manuscript cookbooks, advertising ephemera, government reports, films, and illustrated content revealing the evolution of food and drink within everyday life and the public sphere. The unique material in this collection has been sourced from across the globe to reflect a wide range of food cultures and traditions, creating an unparalleled resource for research.

Key Themes

Documents are tagged with one or more themes to help users browse to the most useful content. These themes were identified based on the content of the collection. Click below to find out more about thematic groupings and to discover the documents that are categorised under each:

Front cover of Quick Frozen Foods, 1962. Content compilation © 2019, by the Hagley Museum & Library. All rights reserved.



Material has been sourced from institutions across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia with a focus on gaining as global a view on food history as possible. The earliest documents are from the sixteenth century and the latest from the early twenty-first century.

Source Archives

For Module 1, material has been sourced from 11 participating institutions:

University of Michigan

Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive:
  • Cookbook collection: including charity cookbooks, early and rare cookbooks, titles regarding alcohol and prohibition, domestic technology, advice to housekeepers, men's cookbooks, children's cookbooks, and manuscript cookbooks
  • Ephemera: including pamphlets, advertising, recipe booklets and menus

Michigan State University

Food and drink picture card. Content compilation © 2019, by The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc. All rights reserved
  • Cookbook collection: Cookbooks published in Africa, and Great Ladies cookbooks

University of California San Diego

  • Cookbook collection: Mexican, Chinese, American and South American cookbooks

Hagley Museum & Library

  • Food Periodicals: 'Quick Frozen Foods' and 'The Spice Mill'
  • Litchfield Collections on the History of Fatty Materials and the History of Salt
  • E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. "Cellophane" Division records, containing price lists, retail advice and information on developments in packaging technology
  • Records of the Seagram Company, Ltd., including internal business documents alongside published and museum materials

Winterthur Library

  • Grossman Ephemera collection of printed ephemera: trade cards, postcards, novelty cards, labels and paper dolls

State Library of New South Wales

  • Cookbook collection

The British Library

  • Magazines and periodicals, including 'Food & Cookery: The Official Organ of the Universal Cookery and Food Association', 'Fanfare', and 'Commentary: The Magazine of the Women's Gas Council'
  • British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers: Roger Thomas Papers
  • 20th Century Marketing Reports

The National Archives

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries:
  • MAF 60: WWI Food Governance and Rationing
  • MAF 156/356: WWII National Food Survey
  • MAF 83: WWII World Food Documents
  • MAF 74l WWII: Initial Food Governance
  • MAF 286: WWII: Minister's Office Papers

History of Advertising Trust

  • JWT/Rowntree: JWT/Rowntree Guard Books; David Lamb collection; JWT/Rowntree Client Account Files
  • The Heinz Marketing Archive
  • HP Foods

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

  • Chaston Chapman Brewing collection

London School of Economics

  • Audrey Richards collection

A variety of secondary features provide further tools for teaching and research:


Language and Terminology

All editorial decisions relating to this project have been made with great care, consideration and with the utmost sensitivity.

Every care and attention has been paid to preserve the historic authenticity of these documents. Any terminology that may be deemed discriminatory or offensive by present-day principles may have been preserved for the historic accuracy and relevance to that particular document.