Technology and Modernization
The collection has a strength in works about “modern” ways of preparing food, including sleek appliances, industrial packaging and distribution, and foodstuffs developed in laboratories. Ideas of nature, purity, modernity, and progress, and how those ideas affected domestic labor and food, feature prominently in these works.
Domesticity and Gender
The collection’s temporal scope allows the study of continuity and change of gender roles over time. These works describe the ideologies and imagined practices of domestic labor and how new technologies affected this labor, as well as histories of family relations and affect through processes like suburbanization and the rise of the nuclear family.
This theme contains information on nutrients that advertisers and authors promoted, the products that contained those nutrients, and the doctors who gave cookbooks and culinary ephemera legitimacy through endorsements. Ideologies of nutrition intersect with the people who spread medical knowledge and cared for families and communities.
Authorship: Cooking Schools and Home Economics
Women often provided endorsements for recipes and products. From the late nineteenth century cooking school to the prominence of the home economist, women (fictional and real) like Fannie Farmer and Betty Crocker constructed identities on providing readers with simple, nutritious, and tasty recipes.
Race and Ethnicity
Food has often been central to constructing the self and the other. The collection provides sources about the marketing of ethnic and ethnicized foods and cuisines and the spread of ethnic cookbooks over time. In addition, some cookbooks and ephemera contain racialized depictions used to market recipes or products.
Nationalism, Commodities, and Economics
These texts reveal histories of commodities. Greater participation in global and colonial networks of trade led to the consumption of new products. This collection is also a source for the prices of foods and culinary texts. Researchers may even find valuable information about the changes of commodities during times of war and rationing.