There is a wealth of information in historical societies, from large old state collections, such as Maryland’s, started in 1844, to a one room local county. The oldest, founded in 1791, is the Massachusetts Historical Society. Below, is a list of manuscript cookbooks in print.
The Pennsylvania Historical Society has been collecting items since 1824, (conveniently located next to the Library Company of Philadelphia) and possesses the original Custis cookery book owned by Martha Washington, which was transcribed into Martha Washington Book of Cookery.
Handwritten manuscripts, letters, store records, newspapers, city directories, pictures, genealogy and more sources of information are found at large and small historical societies. Many of the larger historical societies have started putting their catalogs online, so you can do some of your prep work ahead of time. The Historical Society of Delaware Library has evening hours. Although the days and hours of the smaller ones may be listed, call ahead to make sure a volunteer will be there and it will be open. Whether you travel across country or just two hours away, be sure to ask if they have published any of their works, to save you time in typing/writing.
Manuscript cookbooks - in print
MA Mrs. Gardiner's Receipts from 1763 [Anne Gibbons Gardiner d.1771] Hallowell, ME: White & Horne, 1938
MA Mrs. Gardiner's Family Receipts from 1763, Boston. [Anne Gibbons Gardiner] edited by Gail Weesner. Rowan Tree Press,1989
NJ Pleasures of Colonial Cooking [Isabella Morris Ashfield 1720] prepared by the Miller-Cory House Museum and the New Jersey Historical Society. Newark, NJ: The Society, 1982
NJ Colonial Burlington Cookery [Polly Burling 1770] Sue Huesken & Mercy Ingraham. Riverside NJ: Good Impressions, Inc. 2008. original in Burlington County New Jersey Historical Society
NY Selected Receipts of a Van Rensselaer Family 1785-1835. Albany, NY: Historic Cherry Hill, 1976
NY On the Score of Hospitality: Selected Receipts of a Van Rensselaer Family, Albany, New York, 1785-1835. edited by Jane Carpenter Kellar, Ellen Miller and Paul Stambach. Albany NY: Historic Cherry Hill, 1986.
PA A Quaker Lady's Cookbook [Parry family of New Hope 1787-1900] PA: New Hope Historical Society, 2000
SC A Colonial Plantation Cookbook [Harriott Pinckney Horry 1770] Richard Hooker. Columbia: U of SC Press, 1984. original in South Carolina Historical Society
VA Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery [Custis family - mid to late 1600s] Karen Hess. NY: Columbia University Press, c1981. original in Historical Society of Pennsylvania
VA Colonial Virginia’s Cooking Dynasty [Jane Randolph 1743 & Anon c1700] Katharine Harbury. Columbia: U of SC Press, 2004. original in Va Historical Society
VA Robert E. Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book [Mary Custis Lee 1807-1873] Anne Carter Zimmer. Chapel Hill: U of NC Press, 1997. original in Va Historical Society
Penn Family Recipes [Gulielma Penn d1694] Evelyn Benson. York: George Shumway, 1966. original in Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Acworth. Margaretta Acworth's Georgian Cookery Book. [1727-1794] London: Pavilion Books Limited, 1987. papers in the Public Record Office
Avery. A Plain Plantain [Susanna Avery fl.1688] Ditchling, Sussex: S. Dominic's Press, 1922
Blencowe. The Receipt Book of Mrs. Ann Blencowe 1694. London: Guy Chapman, 1925
Castlehill. Lady Castlehill's receipt book: ...original recipes from a collection made in 1712 by Martha Lockhart. Glasgow: Molendinar Press, 1976
Dinner at Lacock in 1729 [Wiltshire Folklife Society]
Lloyd. The Jane Austen Cookbook [Martha Lloyd 1765-1843] Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1995
Price, Rebecca. The Compleat Cook, or the Secrets of a Seventeenth-Century Housewife, ed Madeleine Masson. London: Routledge, 1974
The Lucayos cook book... 1660 to 1690... Morrisburg, Ont.: Old Authors Farm, 1959
Egg Pies, Moss Cakes, and Pigeons Like Puffins: Eighteenth-Century British Cookery from Manuscript Sources by Vincent DiMarco, 2007
Ladie Borlase's Receiptes Booke. dates from 1665 to 1822 [England], University of Iowa Press. 1998
©2009 Patricia Bixler Reber