Nature and Scope

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

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 bulk of the material ranges from the sixteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Module 2 includes six rare Apicius cookbooks, the earliest of which dates from the ninth century.

Source Archives

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

Module 2

Material has been sourced from 13 participating institutions:

University of Michigan

Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive:
  • Cooking school cookbook collection
  • Periodicals
  • Ephemera: including pamphlets, advertising, recipe booklets and menus

Michigan State University

  • African American cookbooks, and other international cookbooks from Asia, the Middle East and beyond

New York Academy of Medicine

Margaret Barclay Wilson Cookery Collection:
  • Pamphlets and ephemera from the Health and Nutrition Pamphlet Collection, including selections from the Maude Cole Pamphlet Collection
  • French, Italian, German and English cookbooks from the late 15th century to the 20th century
  • The Apicius cookbooks
  • Menus from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Hagley Museum & Library

  • Additional material from the Trade Catalogue collection

Winterthur Library

  • Additional material from the Grossman Ephemera collection of printed ephemera

Schlesinger Library

Julia Child Papers:
  • Correspondence, notebooks and pamphlets relating to Julia's cooking school: Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, and her television show: The French Chef

The British Film Institute

  • Government videos roughly comtemporary to the world wars, on nutrition, rationing and health information

The National Archives

  • PC 1, Corn Riots (1790s)
  • PC 1, Smithfield Meat Market (1850s)
  • HO 45, The Irish Potato Famine (1840s) 

California Polytechnic University, Pomona

  • Ephemera relating to wineries from the Don Galleano Collection, including Caterpillar Tractor photographs
  • Ephemera from the David Streeter Wine Ephemera Collection and Gail G. Unzelman Collection of Historic Winery
  • Audio files from the Southern California Oral History Collection
  • Wine Institute pamphlets and Californian wine labels from the Thomas Pinney Collection

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

  • Cookery Collection: manuscript and printed cookbooks dating between 1517 and 1899 in English and other languages

Bristol City Archives

  • Fry's Collection: management records, financial accounts and illustrative records of the UK-based chocolate manufacturing company

Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

  • Field Foundation Collection: reports and investigations into hunger and malnutrition 

Guildhall Library, London

  • Library of the Institute of Masters of Wine Collection: 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century printed books on viticulture, the wine trade and the social history of drinking, in a variety of European languages

Secondary features

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.