Tag Archives: cooking

Summer of the Archives

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Looking to try something new? How about dying your own fabric, whipping up some arthritis treatments, or white washing your own stucco? The State Archives of North Carolina Private Collections includes the Polk Recipe Book from 1858. The Polk Recipe Book is from the Lucy Williams Polk Papers private collection. Lucy Williams Polk was wife to Williams Polk, whose brother was James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States. The recipe book belonged to Mary K. Williams, Lucy’s mother.

Polk Recipe Book, 1858, PC_75_10_Polk_Recipe_Book

Polk Recipe Book, 1858, PC_75_10_Polk_Recipe_Book

The recipe book includes handwritten recipes ranging from fabric dyes, herbal remedies, jellies, cakes, breads, and apparently even a ginger beer recipe (although I haven’t found that one yet!). The book also includes newspaper cutouts on topics ranging from “Training Steers” to “Bed-Bugs”. It’s everyone’s do-it-yourself home-keeping manual (or at least the 1850s version)!

The item is part of the NCDC artificial online collection, Food and Cooking, which began as part of the 2013 North Carolina Archives week celebration. Other items in the collection include cookbooks, court transcripts for moonshine cases, and trademark applications; all relating to North Carolina food culture and history. So go check out the recipe for not only green pickles, but also yellow pickles, from the Polk Recipe Book.

But keep in mind, this is from the 1800s, they might not have most things at the grocery store. Although the German Ginger Cake might be worth trying to modernize the recipe. If you want to read more about transforming historical recipes into modern ones, check out an article about it here.

P.S. the Ginger Beer recipe is on page 10!

Food and Cooking Collection

[This post comes from intern Brittany Boynton and is part of our 2013 North Carolina Archives Week celebration.]

Food and Cooking Collection


Hi. My name is Brittany Boynton. I attend North Carolina Central University where I am working on my master’s degree in library science. I am currently working as an intern for the State Archives of North Carolina as part of my coursework. My internship consists of building the Food and Cooking Collection to support the 2013 North Carolina Archives Week theme of “Home Grown! A Celebration of N.C. Food Culture and History.” As part of my internship, I locate items on the topic of food and cooking in the collections at the State Archives. I also scan the items to create digital images and create the metadata for each of the items.
The Beginning

Trademark Application: New Prague Flouring Mill Company

Trademark Application: New Prague Flouring Mill Company, part of the Food and Cooking Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections. Click on the image to see the original.

The Food and Cooking Collection for the State Archives of North Carolina was just an idea a little over two months ago. The beginning of the collection started a lot like most hidden object games. I asked questions about the types of items that were to make up the collection. I started with the private collections at the suggestion of Francesca Perez and Ashley Yandle in order to find handwritten recipe books and vintage cookbooks. I went through a good portion of the collections that had been indexed as having recipes or cookbooks within the collection. The interesting thing about the private collections is that the collections also contain letters, poems, and journals. A lot of the letters and journals contained the details of the writers’ lives, and on occasion a recipe would be amongst the day-to-day musings and correspondence. A few collections even contained full recipe books, which were called “receipt books.” Two books were published books, which definitely showed their age, but did not have any of the fun marginalia that is usually found in old books. After finding a few items of interest, I began scanning the materials. Thanks to a very fast book scanner, I was able to scan full books in a matter of hours rather than days. After scanning the recipe books that I found, I created the metadata. Creating the metadata was interesting.

The Middle

After creating the metadata for the recipe books, it was time to go back to the Search Room to find more items to add to the collection. This time it was suggested that I look through trademark applications. Going through trademark applications that have been filed in North Carolina has been a lot of fun; so far, I have looked through all of the applications from 1910 to 1928. A lot of the applications were for non-food related items, which I expected. The majority of the applications for food-related products was from flour mills and carbonated beverage companies. I was surprised by the amount of companies that were developing carbonated beverages during this time. I scanned and created metadata for some interesting trademarks as well. I am continuing to learn about creating metadata, which is more fun than I thought it would be.