Saturday, December 12, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Church Cookbooks

I understand if you’re wondering what Church Record Sunday has to do with Church Cookbooks, but let me explain.

Part of my wanting to write about this comes from having helped host a recipe chat on GenealogyWise this week. I loved hearing the family stories that went with the recipes. Sharing these recipes was the blending of social history and genealogy at its best. I also love the Geneabloggers Cookbook,, that Thomas MacEntee compiled with the recipes and stories from our fellow geneabloggers.

The Holidays remind me of cooking and longing for the women in my family who had their own kitchen specialties. I love women’s history and for me women’s history and women’s stories are linked to the household activities that they took such care in doing. Now, I think those who know me would testify to the fact that I do not enjoy the domestic arts. But when I think of the women in my family tree who I knew, I think of them connected to activities like cooking and quilting.

Women’s history is sometimes located in places we wouldn’t expect. A women’s “genealogy” source I talk about in presentations is the state quilt histories that were done in the last few decades that documented quiltmakers. These books are fabulous because they contain women’s biographies and often pictures as well as their art.

Church Cookbooks are another memento of the work women do. They contain women’s names, stories and their recipes. These cookbooks give us a glimpse into what their lives were like.

The unfortunate thing about Church Cookbooks is they are the step-child of the book world. They are self-published so they do not leave a lasting impression in any standardized indexes or catalogs. There’s no telling who has published one and how many they published. They can be difficult to track down. However, they can be found in places like eBay and used bookstores. But as a source they can be near possible to locate.

Not all sources are perfect and this is certainly the case with the humble Church Cookbook. But it’s a great reminder that we too may have these vintage books with the names of women who are the ancestors of someone else. And these books may be one of the only sources where a woman left her mark.

1 comment:

geneabloggers said...

Great post Gena - I'd like to point out that Ebay is a great resource for these church and Ladies Aid Society/Junior League cookbooks. You never know what information they might contain in terms of genealogy.