South Caroliniana Cookbook Collection

South Caroliniana Library

The South Carolina Historical Cookbooks collection consists of publications from 1832 to 1921.  Many of these “receipt” books provide insight into 19th-century and early 20th-century South Carolina foodways.  Geographically, the collection covers many parts of the state, including Kingstree (Kingstree Cook Book 1921), Spartanburg (Spartanburg Cook Book 1917), Sumter (Best War Recipes 1917), and, of course, Charleston.  A range of food recipes, as well as other topics and interests, also exists in the collection.  Along with recipes such as Pickled Oysters, Rice Cake, Ginger Cake, Republican Cake, Washington Cake, earlier cookbooks also offer home-spun medical and economic advice.

The collection’s earliest book, The Carolina Receipt Book (1832), includes treatments for Thrush, Cholera Infantum, and Sting of Wasp; as well as suggestions for best practices with slaves, euphemistically referred to as “servants”, mending and counting linens, best uses for discarded clothing, and how to wrap knives and forks.  Later Charleston cookbooks in the collection reflect an early twentieth-century southern city restructuring into a tourist destination for wealthy Americans traveling to the South.  The recipes and images such as the image used for this webpage (Charleston Recipes 1910) and in Confections Delicacies Sweets from the Old Slave Mart (1900) signify turn-of-the-century white Charlestonians acculturating and stereotyping African American traditions and foodways for marketing and social purposes.

Visitors attending the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition during 1901-1902, could purchase a Charleston cookbook, “Southern Cook Book: Tested Receipts”, which was compiled by the Interior Decoration Committee of  the Women’s Department. This volume forms part of the Wylma Wates South Carolina Cookbook Collection, which includes 357 titles.

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