Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Cookbook and Food Collection

Peter Berg, November 28, 2017

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs

The Cookbook and Food Collection supports the information, instruction, and research needs of the MSU faculty, staff, students, as well as visitors. The collection serves numerous University departments, colleges, and programs whose students and faculty pursue interests in food, cookery, nutrition, hospitality, history, agriculture, advertising, and literacy.

B. History of the Collection

The Cookbook and Food Collection holds over 35,000 cookbooks and food related items spanning seven centuries from throughout the world. The earliest printed cookbook is a 1541 Apicius. The beginnings of the collection focused on of the collection early British cookery and American cookery thanks to two outstanding donations over 50 years ago from Mary Ross Reynolds and Beatrice Grant, both former Home Economic professors at MSU. In the past quarter century collecting had focused on acquiring cookbooks to bolster these strengths, but within the past decade collecting interests have expanded thanks to the Beatrice Grant Cookery Endowment and a desire to highlight diverse and/or under represented cuisines from the United States and the world. Special attention is given to African American cookery, Jewish cookery, African cookery, and regions in the Americas influenced and involved in the African slave trade. Asian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and American ethnic and regional collecting was enhanced with the donation of the William and Yvonne Lockwood Collection of National, Regional, and Ethnic Foodways  featuring over 6,000 cookbooks from all of the world. In addition, many community/charitable cookbooks representative of the vast ethnic influences on American cuisine have been acquired from throughout the country with special emphasis on the Great Lakes region. The Alan and Shirley Sliker Culinary Ephemera Collection is a vast collection of food and cooking ephemera from over the past 150 years. 

The collection also has strength in the history of nutrition and diet. Efforts should be made to build on this strength with acquisition of antiquarian books in the field, as well as acceptance of donated materials.